Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger
No encounter is by chance
It was the first day of Montreal's spring thaw. Safely distanced reunions were taking place among friends. The winter hibernation was over.
Marina Barr was out for a walk. As she loped through a park path, a middle-aged woman waved her down.
"I love what you're doing," said the woman. "I saw on Instagram."
"Hi!" Marina responded brightly.
The woman smiled warmly. "You were in Chabad Lifeline's Instagram video, right?"
"Yes." In January, Marina and several friends had filmed themselves calling for the destigmatization of addiction in a series of short videos.
The woman beamed. "I love the fact that you guys are young and ambitious, and are working to break the stigma of addiction," she said. "I love that you're doing it through Chabad Lifeline."
The woman then shared her story.
"When I was in high school, I fell in with the wrong crowd and got addicted to pills. Back then, no one ever spoke about such problems. It was such a stigma. I went through hell dealing with it on my own. Eventually, I got help and made it through to the other side.
"But boy do I wish there were people like you around back then. Knowing that there would be support would have helped me gather the strength to share my problem, get rid of the shame, and deal with it in a healthy way. I would have recovered much earlier. I wouldn't have lost years of my life.
"You inspire me. I figure that if a 21-year-old has the power to make such a difference and speak up, then I definitely do too. I have a story to tell and I will start sharing it to help others. Nobody should be fighting addiction alone."
The two spoke for several minutes, and exchanged numbers. When Marina resumed her walk, her mind was racing.
"Our actions have a deep impact on those around us, and in a society that is very self centered, it's really important to take a step back and realize that everyone is going through something, and we have the power to actually make a difference," Marina said. "Chabad Lifeline has been doing excellent work making people feel connected, appreciated, and have meaning, which is a really hard thing to do in today's society."
Over the last few weeks, Marina and her friends have prepared a short video for Chabad Lifeline as part of a larger campaign to create awareness and destigmatize addiction.
Click here to watch the video. Please share the video, because spreading awareness today can help someone tomorrow.
Please note that some identifying details have been changed to protect the anonymity of the person Marina met in the park.