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Homeless Mental health

Lilly’s selfless gift stands out


Elaine Tanner and John: “After hearing what she had done, I knew we had to do something in return.”

January, 2015 – Giving to others occurs at the Lookout Society on a daily basis. But sometimes one act of giving stands out among the rest.

That’s certainly true with Lilly, a transitional housing tenant at the Yukon Housing Centre, who gave her Christmas gift to a friend and fellow tenant.

Lilly is a confidant and friend to many staying at the Yukon, a person you go to with your problems. In one of those discussions, Lilly’s heartstrings were tugged by her friend’s pain: she couldn’t afford to go home and spend Christmas with her children.

So when Lilly was asked what her Christmas wish was by Homeless Partners, a non-profit that encourages donors to grant Christmas wishes for formally homeless individuals, she didn’t hesitate.

“She needed the gift more than I did. It was so important for my friend to get home,” said Lilly.

The gift was a return bus ticket to Burns Lake, in the B.C. Interior. Lilly even threw in a $100 London Drugs gift certificate the donor purchased. That way her friend could buy Christmas gifts for her children.

Thankfully the story and the giving didn’t end there.

 “Giving away her gift like she did… that’s very special. Lilly is an amazing woman.”

Elaine Tanner, a former Canadian Olympian, heard about the Christmas wish-granting program and wanted to donate a gift to someone. Unfortunately, Homeless Partners didn’t require any more donors – all the wishes were already granted.

Fortunately Elaine contacted Lookout Society’s executive director Shayne Williams and asked if there were any tenants who needed a Christmas wish granted.

Lilly, who’s act of giving had melted the hearts of Yukon staff, tenants and shelter guests, was the obvious choice. Linda Fox, Yukon’s manager, knew Lilly really wanted a laptop computer to replace one stolen while she was temporarily homeless.

So Elaine, who earned the name Mighty Mouse after winning three medals in the swimming pool at the 1968 Summer Olympics, started things off with a large cash donation towards the laptop. Lookout Society staff and management kicked in the rest – everyone inspired to give after Lilly’s selfless act.

Elaine saw the need for Lilly’s gift to come full circle.

“After hearing what she had done, I knew we had to do something in return,” said Elaine.

“Giving away her gift like she did… that’s very special. Lilly is an amazing woman.”