Back in 2014, Linda Thiessen was a mother of two very young children, and she felt in her heart that she wanted to support and encourage other moms. However, she wasn’t sure what she could do or what it would look like.
Then she was approached by former radio host, Maria Dyck, to see if she wanted to join Radio De Brigj as a volunteer for the Mom 2 Mom program. At the time, only one volunteer, Lily Harder, was helping with this program, and it was a big commitment for just one person. Linda and another young mother, Nancy Letkeman joined as volunteers to help distribute the work.
“Having insecurities myself being a new mom, there was a list of things I wanted to inspire others about,” says Linda. She has enjoyed doing a mix of topics over the last 8 years, sometimes focusing on more challenging topics or the spiritual aspects of motherhood, and sometimes keeping it light with practical content like cleaning “hacks”.
“I wanted to help others; to empower them to have the freedom to parent in a way that is true to themselves and not compare themselves to others. My message for listeners is also to be hopeful of their children’s future. That we can empower our children to learn and grow, even through difficult times.” Linda says there have been times when she had a program topic in mind, but the Holy Spirit would say differently, and then she would follow that guidance to change her topic.
The topics have also changed as her children have grown, and also as listeners would give feedback. Some of Linda’s favourite memories from her time as a volunteer have been at two outreach events the radio has held. One event was in a local park, with listeners invited to bring their whole family. There was a mini-program, as well as raffle items and ice cream that had been donated by local businesses. The other event was held in the MCS thrift store, serving cookies and pie, providing the opportunity for the radio hosts to introduce themselves to the ladies who were shopping and to hear their feedback about the Mom 2 Mom program.
“I think it’s great that MCS offers radio programs in Plautdietsch,” says Linda. While there are many parenting resources available at our fingertips in English these days, it is harder to find them in Low German. The Mom 2 Mom program helps Low German-speaking mothers feel less alone.
Linda has been fluent in Low German her whole life, as she was born in Mexico and moved to Canada when she was 10 years old. For those who like to play the “Mennonite Game,” Linda’s grandparents were the Dokta Wall from La Silva. Everyone from Mexico knew her dad. Volunteering at De Brigj brings part of her family’s story full circle, as her family has received services through MCS. “My dad had his [Citizenship] papers, but my mom didn’t. MCS staff were so good at helping her connect and getting her Landed [status]. She still has her certificate from her citizenship ceremony that she is so proud of.”
Volunteering with the radio has been just one part of Linda’s busy life. She and her husband, Eddie Thiessen, live in Aylmer with their two children, a boy and a girl, now aged 12 and 10. One of their favourite hobbies is playing baseball and they play on a co-ed baseball team together. Linda works at Kindred Credit Union in Aylmer, and her home church is Straffordville EMC.
Linda encourages other that, “When you do volunteer work, you’re part of a bigger picture, and potentially able to help others. You get to meet others, hear their walks of life and can be inspired by them too. There is a lot of focus on mental health these days; [I want people to know that] you are healing yourself too, through helping others by volunteering.”