Mary and the Motel from Hell

Mary and the Motel from Hell

Don’t be shy. You can check out my Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud.

‘Laugh Long and Prosper’ is shelf help with a smile, stressbusters with a smirk, and information with a wink wink. You get the point.

Yes, there is a lot of bad stuff going on in our world and lately it seems like even more than usual. But these are the times that I like to lean on a quote by the incredible sage, Mr. Rogers. He said, ‘’When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’’’

Over the next few blog entries, I would like to tell you about some of the helpers who work for City Street Outreach.

City Street Outreach  is a local outreach program that is a 100 percent volunteer-run, donation- based and all-inclusive registered charity providing food, clothing and assistance to those in need and/ or living in poverty across the greater Toronto area.

I’m proud to say that in a very small way, I am part of this organization. I’m hardly a saint. In fact, I volunteer for very selfish reasons. It has been good for me emotionally, physically and mentally.

In my last blog, I told you about Alex and Grace, the co-founders of City Street Outreach.  

In this entry, I would like to tell you about one of the first volunteers whom I met on the front lines. Her name is Mary. I want to tell you a tale about Mary and the Motel from Hell.

I met Mary on one of the first nights that I volunteered for City Street Outreach a few years ago.

Mary is physically one of the strongest women that I have ever known.

She could pick up 3 cases of water and 2 cases of pet food without blinking an eye.

Meanwhile I was crumbling under one can of cat food.

Mary is incredibly strong in another way. She never asks for help for herself. She always asks for help for others and no matter what you give Mary (big or small), she is always very appreciative.  You would never guess the kind of adversity that Mary faces every day because she always greets you with a smile, a laugh and/or a thank you. In spite of her circumstances, Mary is one of the most grateful and positive people that I have ever met.

I remember the first time I took City Street Outreach supplies to the place where Mary lived.

Mary and her family were living in a motel room off of Kingston Road in Scarborough. The place should have been condemned years ago. The owner clearly did not care about her tenants. It was only after a newspaper article shamed the owner and local politicians that the place was finally condemned. Thank goodness Mary and the other tenants were relocated to more humane residences.

Mary, her husband, daughter and mother all lived in one of the cramped motel rooms for years! It was an oven in the summer and an ice box in the winter. A hole the size of a basketball was in the bathroom floor and had never been fixed, despite numerous requests.

On top of this, the entire building was crawling with vermin.

Mary once said that a rat crawled out of another tenant’s toilet and ran out of the guy’s room.

The tenant, a big guy who didn’t scare easily, was understandably freaked out.

Sadly, these were everyday occurrences at that motel.

Vulnerable people like Mary and her family trying to eke out some semblance of a normal life while being surrounded by violence, sexual abuse and drug use that ran rampant throughout the building.

Despite this, Mary made the motel a home for her family. 

Her husband, Bobby was amazing with the animals in the complex- from domestic to not-so-domestic. From dogs and cats to abandoned baby raccoons and squirrels, he did his best to help with what little resources he had.

Bobby also tried to make their motel room a home. One Christmas, he strung a small string of Christmas lights outside their motel window, only to hear from the motel owner that it needed to be taken down immediately because it was a fire hazard. One little string of lights.

It’s a small miracle that the entire complex didn’t go up in flames over the years due to the owner’s incredible negligence.

Amidst the chaos, Mary was the beacon of hope for her own family and for many of the other families and individuals in that motel complex. 

She became the main contact person there for City Street Outreach. Whenever City Street Outreach delivered food or dry goods, Mary would make it her mission to fairly distribute whatever there was to whomever needed it.

Once a week, I would also swing by with goods from City Street Outreach.

Honestly, before volunteering for City Street Outreach, I passed by that motel so many times over the years.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I probably would have been afraid if my car broke down in front of it.

Now I was driving into the back of the pitch-black complex (because of course, why would outdoor light bulbs be replaced?) and there would be Mary smiling, patiently waiting for me.

I am so grateful to my friends and family with whom I shared stories about Mary and the Motel from Hell. They regularly loaded me up with food and donations to give to Mary and the other tenants. I hope those donations made life temporarily a little easier for the recipients.   

One Christmas Eve, my dear friend Val and her husband, Greg, took Christmas dinner over to Mary and her family. I have no doubt that whatever Mary received, she shared and tried to stretch it with those around her.

As I mentioned earlier, Mary and the other tenants were finally able to be relocated to better living residences after the motel owner was fined and the place was condemned.

I regularly see Mary on the City Street Outreach circuit. She continues to volunteer and take care of her own family as well as so many others. She is a local hero.

Sadly, she still puts me to shame when it comes to unloading furniture or a truckload of pet food but Mary works tirelessly to make things just a little easier for those who struggle day to day to make ends meet.

Finally, I should add that a lot of the volunteers like Mary at City Street Outreach are or have been recipients of the food and dry goods that the organization distributes. A lot of these people are only too happy to help others as soon as they gain some traction. 

As the saying goes, ‘They don’t need a hand out, they need a hand up.’

Mary is a super star.

She chooses to lead with love, compassion, gratitude and humor.

I think she would make Mr. Rogers proud.

If you would like to catch up on any of my other Laugh Long and Prosper episodes, voted one of the best podcasts of 2021 in Canada by CTV, check me out.

Until next time folks, Laugh Long and Prosper!

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

Feel free to take a listen!

Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud

Wayne Gretsky – Hockey and Humour

stand-up-in-10-steps-by-judy-croon-canadas-keynote-humorist

Barnie The Red Shadow

Barnie The Red Shadow

Don’t be shy. You can check out my Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud.

Recently, I lost my beloved dog, Barnie. He was nearly 15 years old. I can barely talk about it – much less write about it. I know that Barnie won the doggie lottery. He was spoiled. I only wish that every dog on this planet could have the life that Barnie had. He deserved it. Every dog does.
However, knowing this doesn’t make the grief any easier.

Barnie was my constant companion. So much so that I nicknamed him The Red Shadow.

When my dad suddenly passed last year around the same time, I looked into Barnie’s cataract covered eyes and begged him to give me an extra year. It’s as if he knew his mission and he heroically fulfilled it – and then some. To be clear, Barnie never suffered. Thanks to Dr Marcus and the wonderful staff at Greenwood Animal Hospital, he was given amazing treatment right until the very end when the difficult decision to let him go was made.

When a person passes, there is so much to do besides grieve. There is a funeral to plan, friends and family to contact, financial and legal matters to settle, a eulogy to write, flowers and catering to order, etc. You almost go through each task robotically but in a weird way, it slowly helps you get used to the idea that your loved one is gone.

However, when a pet passes, there is almost nothing to do. Fifteen years of pure joy and happiness and then poof– it’s over. There is nothing to do but sit in the grief. My good friend, comedian Martha Chaves said a profound thing to me a long time ago, “Judy, pets are pain on layaway.” Isn’t that the truth?

It is so painful BUT I will gladly sign up for it all over again. Not now but one day.

I said to another comedic friend that it was like losing a family member. She said that she felt bad when her father passed because occasionally, she was mean to him. But then she quickly added, “But wait a second, he was mean to me.”

That’s the thing about dogs. They’re not mean (unless a human has let them down and betrayed their trust). There is no hidden agenda. They love unconditionally. They are four-legged angels.

Barnie was my angel.

For a three-month period in 2019 before my mom passed, Barnie came with me every time I visited her in palliative care. On countless occasions, I was told that he was a sight for sore eyes- not only for other patients and visitors but also for the staff. On the rare occasion that he wasn’t with me, no one tried to hide their disappointment. Clearly, I was second fiddle and that was okay.

When my mom passed, for the next three years, Barnie came with me when I visited my dad for lunch every week. I always pretended I didn’t see the pipeline of french fries that my dad was feeding Barnie underneath the kitchen table. I knew it gave them both so much joy to think that they were getting away with something.

Barnie was always with me. Whenever, I did pick-ups and deliveries for a local outreach program called City Street Outreach, Barnie rode in the back seat. He enthusiastically licked every kid and adult who stuck their hand in the back window wanting to greet him. 

As I said, Barnie was an angel but that didn’t mean that he was perfect. He never learned to walk without pulling, he once ate a friend’s home-made chip dip thus earning him the nickname Barnie Dip, he begged for food, he had bad breath and perhaps his worse crime of all, he loved to lick people whenever he met them. Some people were indifferent to this odd habit, some people hated it but some people thought it was a lucky sign. Whoever he licked usually won at a friendly game of poker that night.

Barnie was smart in his own way but he didn’t really do tricks. In fact, he only had one party trick-ringing a bell tied to the back door when he wanted to be let out into the yard. I read about the trick in Puppies for Dummies and thought it would never work. Barnie learned it in one day!

 From that day on, he rang the bell whenever he needed to be let out. Ding ding ding. I could hear it from anywhere in the house. Ding, ding,ding. One particular night, from upstairs, I could hear the bell frantically ringing. Ding ding ding. Ding ding ding. “Okay, okay, I’m coming.”, I said as I ran downstairs. There was Barnie standing on the back mat frantically ringing the bell.  Beside him was Murphy – my sister’s dog who I was babysitting. Murphy was trying to throw up on the back mat. Barnie was ringing the bell to let me know that we had to let Murphy out! 

Barnie was my best friend (no offense to any humans) but he was also my political ally. Even as a young pup, he had democratic leanings. In 2008, when CNN forecasted that Barrack Obama was going to be the next president of the US, we both jumped up and down in the living room.

Barnie taught me so many lessons in life, including patience. Throughout the years, he wore sunglasses, raincoats, Halloween costumes and Santa hats without a single complaint.

He was such a good boy.

I will miss him dearly.

I still don’t have the heart to put his raincoats, bowls or bed or toys away yet. It seems too final. It’s like I can’t get used to the idea of him not being in the house. In fact, just the other night, I thought I heard Ding, ding, ding coming from downstairs. Maybe, just maybe The Red Shadow is still with me somehow.

RIP my four-legged angel. Until we meet again. 

 (PS Thank you Reggie Robb for this beautiful painting of Barnie) 

Until next time folks, Laugh Long and Prosper!

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

Feel free to take a listen!

If you would like to catch up on any of my other Laugh Long and Prosper episodes, voted one of the best podcasts of 2021 in Canada by CTV, check me out.

Laugh Long and Prosper podcast on Spotify or Soundcloud

Wayne Gretsky – Hockey and Humour

stand-up-in-10-steps-by-judy-croon-canadas-keynote-humorist

Today’s blog is sponsored by: TROOL Social knows that to be visible online you have to be fully committed, congruent in who you are and what you do.
YOU MUST ADOPT THE RIGHT MINDSET- Steer your ship to the SS Optimization & TROOL Social To get you Sailing On Course
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2021BringItOn

2021BringItOn

I don’t know what was scarier in 2020…Donald Trump or Covid.

Certainly, both of them have had me cowering in my house for a few months at the beginning of the year.

But then I felt inspired by Joe Biden: the little engine that could.

Slowly but surely, his campaign started to gain traction throughout the year and lo and behold, he and Kamala Harris won the US Election.

I felt inspired by Joe Biden for many reasons. His old-school talk about having ‘steel in your spine’ made me want to strike a Rosie the Riveter pose and start saving kittens out of trees.

I was also inspired by ‘The Joe Biden Jog’. You know the jog -the five or six little steps that Joe does just as he’s about to take the podium. I now do the ‘Joe Biden Jog’ myself whenever I’m on one of my slow daily walks and I think someone might be looking.

As 2020 progressed, I started to get mad at 2020. To hell with you, 2020.

As Covid raged on, I metamorphized from coward to full- blown ‘Snakes on a Plane’ Samuel Jackson. “That mother ##%$^^&ing 2020 is not going to get the best of me.”

I joined millions of humans around the world as we adapted to the ‘new normal’ by masking up, Zooming, home schooling, isolating, sanitizing and maintaining a responsible six-foot distance from others. That’s right, Winston Churchill would have been proud of us!  Okay, maybe we weren’t fighting in the streets with sticks and brooms but, when it comes to watching TV, no other generation can hold a candle to us. Fourteen hours of binge-watching The Crown? Child’s play. Not even a blink or a bathroom break. Hulu- come at me.

I don’t know about you, but I can watch the most obscure, fragmented channel for days. Have you seen ‘Estonia’s Next Baking Star’ on the Umlaut Network?  For a monthly subscription of only $6.99, I can assure you that it’s a bargain at twice the price.

Of course, Christmas 2020 was different because of Covid. It was smaller and quieter.  I notice that most of my Christmas gifts were chocolates, pajamas and books. Otherwise known as ‘Covid Gear’ or the 92-year-old Grandmother Starter Kit. Either way, I don’t mind! Bring on the comfort and cosiness.

I stayed with my dad this Christmas. We had a great time catching up. One minor observation- could the TV be any louder?

I’m sure even the neighbours know that the mystery on Oak Island is that there isn’t any treasure.

All joking aside, I will take the good lessons from 2020 and keep moving forward.

Family, friends, charity, gratitude and ‘Murder She Wrote’ are just some of the touchstones that have helped me to, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’- as Winston Churchill would say.

Hang in there folks, it’s going to get better. We just have to be patient.

Laugh Long and Prosper.

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

By the way, in case you missed the most recent episodes of my podcast ‘Laugh Long and Prosper’ -you can check them out here.

 

Laugh Long and Prosper: Psychic Friday – Friday January 1, 2021- Predictions for the year 2021 with Psychic Nikki

 

Laugh Long and Prosper -Monday Dec 21 2020 Just Another Mindful Monday with Meditation Coach Cara Coulson Part Two

 

Laugh Long and Prosper – Monday Dec 7 2020 – Just Another Mindful Monday with Meditation Coach Cara Coulson Part One

 

 

 

Judy's Shelf Help Pick: #BeTheChange

#BeTheChange

‘The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.’

 

~Oscar Wilde
#InternationalVolunteerDay (Dec 5th)

 

Thanks to EVERYONE who has donated their time and/or food/clothing/money to City Street Outreach or any worthwhile charity. #BeTheChange

 

I would like to use this newsletter to give a shout out to a couple of amazing local groups.

 

Again, if you live in the GTA and you have food, clothing or small housing items that you would like to donate, please let me know.
We will organize a pick-up. Right now, we’ve got two large groups (80 families in total) that we are trying to help on a weekly basis. Thanks to amazing sponsors like Cobs Bakery, Brick Street Bakery, Costco and Little Caesar’s Pizza that have stepped up to bat every week.  Here is a little more info.

 

HELPING OTHERS: TORONTO HOMELESS

 Help the Toronto Homeless
How you can help Toronto’s homeless every Monday and Thursday and Saturday night. Can you volunteer? Do you have clothes, sheets, towels, etc  that can can be picked up? Would you like to make a donation. Contact Alex 416 -834-7736, call me or visit the website: City Street Outreach – Monday, Thursday and Saturday Street & Community Outreach
 
Please listen here how you can help the homeless in Toronto.

 

DOGSTARZ.CA

 

Dogstarz.ca

 

‘I believe the greatest privilege in this world is to use your freedom of speech for those who have no voice.’ – Ricky Gervais
There are some fantastic animal groups in Ontario who are always looking for help.

Check out
Speak of Dogs Rescue
Speaking of Dogs

 

Shades of Hope
Shades of Hope Wildlife

(North of Cobourg, Ontario. Open Thursdays and Sundays)

Why socializing and laughter is good for your brain

Hi Friends,

 

One of the ingredients from my keynote, ‘Relieving Stress with Humour’ is healthy mental activity. Reading is a great way to exercise our brain. May I present a true classic for this month’s 1 minute shelf help – ‘Younger Next Year’ by Crowley and Lodge.
 

I have featured this book before but this time I wanted to address why socializing (and therefore, laughter) is so healthy for our brain.
 

Watch the Video

 


KEYNOTES

It was wonderful sharing my keynotes and comedy and lowering overall stress levels for  many meaningful groups recently including the Canadian Payroll Association Toronto conference.

 

 


COMEDY

Stand Up To Stress with my new Second City stand up comedy students!

 

 


TORONTO HOMELESS

How you can help Toronto’s homeless every Monday night. Can you volunteer? Do you have clothes that can can be picked up? Would you like to make a donation. Contact Alex 416 -834-7736.
Please listen here how you can help the homeless in Toronto.


DOGSTARZ.CA

 

 

‘I believe the greatest privilege in this world is to use your freedom of speech for those who have no voice.’ – Ricky Gervais

 

There are two fantastic animal groups in Ontario who are always looking for drivers.

 

Check out

 

January Resolution How would you like to work out only 3 minutes a week?

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.’  ~ Oprah Winfrey

 

Hi Friends,

 

How are those resolutions going? How would you like to only have to work out 3 minutes a week? Too much? Maybe just start with one. Do something you can maintain. Haha. Wishing you all the very best for 2016. 

 

 

 


Wishing Everyone a Happy New Year!

 


DOGSTARZ.CA

‘I believe the greatest privilege in this world is to use your freedom of speech for those who have no voice.’ – Ricky Gervais

 

There are two fantastic animal groups in Ontario who are always looking for drivers.
Check out