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Edmonton woman overwhelmed by kindness of Salmon Arm store manager

Staff member of local business said her family training was to help others
Samantha Wallace, pictured here in Edmonton where she lives, is extremely grateful for Marilyn Williams, the store manager at the Salmon Arm Co-op Gas Bar, who went out of her way to help Wallace’s elderly parents in Salmon Arm. (Photo contributed)

The daughter of two Salmon Arm residents and a Salmon Arm store manager both describe themselves as having tears in their eyes when they speak of their recent interactions.

Samantha Wallace contacted the Observer to express her overwhelming appreciation for the actions of Marilyn Williams, store manager at the Salmon Arm Co-op Gas Bar, on Nov. 17.

Wallace explained she lives in Edmonton, her brother and family live on Vancouver Island and her elderly parents live in Salmon Arm.

With all the flooding in B.C. followed by photos circulating of empty grocery store shelves, she knew she couldn’t have her parents, in their eighties, standing in line for groceries.

She contacted the co-op gas bar in Salmon Arm as she knows it carries pre-made foods that her mom has purchased before.

Wallace ended up talking to Williams, the co-op store manager. Wallace said they had fun deciding which groceries to choose. She told Williams to put the tab on her credit card. Williams told her no, she didn’t have to pay.

“She said absolutely not, I’m paying it forward,” recounts Wallace. She asked Williams if she was sure.

Williams told her she was paying it forward because her parents were living in Ontario before they passed away, so she knows what it’s like to be at a distance.

Wallace asked if there would be someone at the store who could deliver the groceries. Williams didn’t hesitate. She said she would do it.

Wallace’s mom texted her later. Her mom told her Williams had tears in her eyes when she was there.

“Literally I’ve had tears in my eyes that somebody would do that,” Wallace said, her voice catching with emotion.

“I think that’s an absolutely wonderful thing. I really can’t believe she did it.”

Wallace said she thinks that as bad as the flooding was, sometimes it brings out the best in people.

“With all this going on, and everybody is doing what they can do to help.”

Wallace said she’s heard her mom talk about Williams’ behaviour at the co-op before. Although her mom didn’t know her name, she said the woman working there would help her carry things out to the car.

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When the Observer contacted Williams regarding her kind deeds, she was hesitant to be in the newspaper. She doesn’t do such things for recognition. But, given that Wallace wanted to publicize her kindness, she agreed.

She was quick to point out that it was the “kitchen gals” who prepared the food so she can’t take all the credit – everything is a cooperative effort.

Williams said Wallace’s mom had her in tears, because both her own parents are gone now.

“It was one of those heartfelt moments, ‘I have to do this for you.’ Her daughter is so far away from her elderly parents; there was no hesitation in my mind,” Williams said.

She said she’d done the same thing – ordering things to be delivered – when her parents were alive.

“I wasn’t there physically and I wanted them to know, ‘Hey, I love you, I care about you, I’m here,’” she said of her parents.

Wallace’s mom has a breathing issue, so Williams left her phone number with her and urged her to call if she needed help.

Williams said she told Wallace’s mom, “You are a mama, you were there for your daughter, now she’s there for you.”

She said she would be stopping by the elderly couple’s place with a snow shovel to make sure they are OK.

“It’s so nice to be able to help with your whole heart,” Williams said. “Some people do it for the recognition but, for me, I’d rather be poor and give someone your last meal.”

She said she thinks it was her training.

Williams was born when her mother was 44 years and she was raised poor by her Italian parents.

At her father’s funeral, her mother said, in Italian, ‘You know, Mario, we were very poor but we lived a rich life.’

“That’s what she said. I will never forget it, it was so true.”

Williams said her parents would dance in the kitchen, her family was never without food and her parents were never stressed about anything. They didn’t drive – her father would pedal his bike to the paper mill where he worked. He had his garden in the back yard.

“They were so happy.”

Williams said nowadays “we’re so lucky to have what we have, healthy kids and grandchildren…”

She pointed out that accumulating things doesn’t bring happiness.

“We need to step back, giving our freedom of time to people…”

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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