When one looks at government funding for social safety net programs, it is often looked at in the dollar and cents of it all instead of its overall sense.
For those who attended the Celebration of Learning event at the Taber Legion earlier this month, they saw first hand the difference the Work Foundations and Families Learning Together programs have meant to its students who ranged from all over southern Alberta including the Taber and Vauxhall areas. The difference that we, in North America who have English as our first language, often take for granted.
Primarily the people enrolled in the program are Mennonites for the most part. The first Mennonites in Canada arrived in the late 18th century, settling initially in Southern Ontario.
Today, almost 200,000 Mennonites call Canada home, with Mennonites coming from Mexico in the last 50 years.
With Families Learning Together, the women in the Mennonite household do indeed learn together with their children, who get to enjoy educational daycare in getting a jump start earlier in their life in the transition to North American culture.
Reading a newspaper, a medicine bottle, or street signs are things we take for granted as second-nature, but prove as huge hurdles for people being introduced to a new country and a new language.
Giving people a hand up, not a hand out and as Work Foundations and Families Learning Together showed earlier this month, it has done just that.
While you can see the dollars and cents of a program like Work Foundations can give in helping men get more marketable skills in becoming a greater contributor in the economy, a program like Families Learning Together you really see the mental benefits.
The majority of the Mennonite women who gave their testimonials on how Families Learning Together has benefited their lives noted it helped with their depression.
Few of us can understand the paralyzing fear a lot of these women must have in venturing out of their house, not being able to read the labels at the grocery store or comprehend what the laughing families are saying at the park as they play together, or seeing how tough it is for their children to make new friends as they try and build a better life from the one they left behind.
That isolation can lead to depression in which Families Learning Together has helped break those shekels that have kept some families down.
Dig deeper into the programs and you see instructors and support staff that do not see their pupils as a job, but as extended family with all the hugs that went around with tears shed.
If social safety nets are supposed to have a social conscious about them, the programs TDCALA offer certainly fit the bill of not only giving people a hand up, but very nurturing hands while doing so.
So while it may have been a Celebration of Learning everyone saw earlier this month, it was also a celebration of the human condition.
For that the Taber Times applauds and tips its hat to the good work TDCALA gives to the communities it affects.