This column was guest written by Aimee Jensen, a social work student from UBC Okanagan, who spent her summer working at United Way, thanks to a Canada Summer Jobs Grant from Service Canada.
Ten years ago, Kelowna resident Jackie Douglas was living a life with addiction. At the time Douglas’ story had been featured in several Vancouver newspapers, something she hoped would be a cautionary tale to others. Now, Douglas and friend Jessi are sharing a different story about believing in yourself with their recently published children’s book Hope. While the story takes place in a magical land where a nameless girl embarks on a journey to discover her real name, the story’s lessons of believing in yourself and as Jessie puts it, “having hope while on the journey of life,” are relevant for everyone, including the pair.
The idea for the book first came to Douglas 10 years ago while living in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Although it took only one night to write the first original version of the story, Douglas was at first hesitant to share the story outside of her close group of friends. It wasn’t until several years later after receiving much encouragement from her friends that Douglas decided to work towards getting Hope published. But first, she needed to find someone to bring her vision to life and met that someone in Jessie, an artist also on the path to recovery.
“Illustrating this book was a great gift during my recovery. It was one of the first times I had been able to stick through with something from beginning to end without giving up,” said Jessie. Douglas agreed and even went as far to say that the book saved her life. The assistance of Karis Support Society has also been a gift for the pair, both helping them through their publishing and recovery journeys. Jackie and Jessie were even chosen this spring as recipients of Karis Society’s first ever achievement awards in recognition of the hard work Jackie and Jessie devoted to making their book a reality.
With such success, there’s no sign of slowing down for this pair. Jackie plans to continue her passion for writing by applying to Okanagan College’s Creative Writing Program as well as begin writing her autobiography. For now, Jessie plans to shift her focus from illustrating books to designing greeting cards and a calendar. Of particular interest to Jessie is to create greeting cards of encouragement for people recovering from addictions, something that does not currently exist.
Hope will soon be available for purchase at Mosaic Books.
To learn more about the Karis Support Society, visit www.karis-society.org.
To find out how you can be part of change, visit www.unitedwaycso.com