I am the lucky of Aunt of 23 nieces and nephews. After my young niece Anne and I experimented with a series of hand gestures for our Anne Fan club we came up with PEACE TOGETHER FOREVER. The peace sign, then cross those fingers over then give the thumbs up. For years my nieces and nephews and now many worldwide have used this symbol as our way of being ambassadors for peace.
In 2003 an unspeakable tragedy happened to a little girl named Holly. Her loss of life caused her family and all of Toronto to be grief stricken. I noticed families hold their little one’s tighter, become suspicious of everyone and over a very short time I realized that our communities were in flux and the mistrust was filling everyone’s heart.
Having lost my only child I knew the ache of loss. Having had a street level business since 1993 I also had the amazing opportunity to feel and see the daily pulse of the street. In my business, a hot dog stand outside the Mount Sinai Hospital and the Princess Margaret hospital, I was given the education of feeding every walk of life. The most brilliant, the hardest working, the lost and the struggling all came and filled my life with daily gifts of understanding how important communities are and how vital it is to have safe havens in all these micro-environments.
With the recent tragedy in mind it became my mission to befriend the parents who strolled their little ones to and from school, kindergarten and daycare. With time I began to know the names of all the children and we started a Happy Thursday Club.
Anyone who helped me at the Hot Dog Stand knew the importance of the Peace Together Forever symbol and received the shrieks of laughter and the pounding of the feet racing toward the stand after school on Happy Thursdays. You didn’t have to be a child to receive the free candy, but you did have to be under 15 if you did the PTF sign to receive the now $1.50 hotdog. Anyone who signed PTF could get a piece of candy and everyone left the stand with a smile and maybe a tiny bit of security a tiny bit of hope knowing that on their walk home there was someone who did know their name, who smiled and who felt blessed to have a business selling hot dogs.