Frances discovers that a silver medalist is a homeboy
Two strangers walk her home along icy winter streets
By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective
Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

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01 March 2014 — I had to go to the library. It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I also had to be home to attend a 7 p.m. meeting in the lobby of my apartment building.

The meeting was to inform us tenants that the landlord had put in for an above the guideline rent increase. The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations (FMTA) was to give us information about the City of Toronto's Tenant Defence Fund grant. This grant allows tenant groups to access funds to hire a paralegal to go to court for them to challenge the increase. The  FMTA is funded through the City of Toronto's Tenant Defence Fund.

I had to be there. I had to help tenants in our building get organized to get this rent increase lowered as much as possible.

I got dressed, and against my better judgement, went out into the threatening weather. It was supposed to rain but there was only a light snowfall. Okay, I said to myself, it looks safe enough, only light snow.

I got to the library okay.

Looking around in the library I noticed a newspaper clipping propped up on a table.

The headline caught my attention: Parkdale native Moscovitch helps Canada to Olympic silver medal.

The paper was the Parkdale Villager.  
"Hot off helping Canada to a silver medal in the inaugural team figure skating event at the Sochi Olympics. Parkdale native Dylan Moscovitch and his pairs partner Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catherines were shooting for another medal in the individual pairs event."
The pair won silver.
"For Moscovitch, now sporting a team Olympic silver medal along with the rest of the Canadian figure skating team, it was the culmination of a journey that began with his parents teaching him how to skate at Parkdale's McCormick Arena. He grew up on Cowan Avenue well into his teenage years."

Good for Parkdale, I thought. Many of us didn't realize we had an Olympic champion.

Still excited about this local champion, I got my library book and prepared to leave the library. As I did so I noticed the snow had started to settle on the slush that was still on the sidewalk from the last snow storm.

I cautiously ventured out. Wow, was it slippery! A few steps at a time I said to myself. That didn't help. I started slipping with each step. How am I going to get home? Can't go for a coffee and wait this out, I have a meeting to go to.

A young black man walked by me with his head covered and down against the falling snow. I yelled, "Hello! Can you help me?" He replied sure. He extended his arm and I firmly hung on to it as we proceeded up the street. I asked how far are you going and he said to Jameson, but I can take you as far you need to go. I said that is great I can make it from there, I live on the next street west of Jameson.

As we were walking his girlfriend phoned him on his cell and said what are you doing? He said I am helping an old lady. She laughed and said really? I could hear the conversation so I replied yes, he is a very considerate young man.

On our way to Jameson Ave I mentioned how much I like Parkdale that I had lived here a long time. He said he liked it also and has lived here all his life. I  mentioned we had a local hero and told him about Moscovitch. He hadn't heard about him and we both walked right past Cowan Ave where Moscovitch had grown up and vicariously shared Moscovitch's joy at his victory.

When we got to Jameson Ave, I said I'll be okay, I'll walk on the road to my street. Just then he saw a tall black gentleman heading down the same road and yelled, "Hey brother can you help this lady?" Sure, was the answer.

Now I had a new saviour. We had a good conversation as we walked arm in arm. I said where do you live and he replied in the house back there but don't worry I'll take you to your front door.

This neighbour walked me right to my front door even though it was a block past his house.

I said, "It is  people like you and that young man who make me love my Parkdale."

Then I said I have to write about you both in my column, My Parkdale.

As he left me secure of mind and body at my very front door he said it was a pleasure meeting you and that he was going to google my column as soon as he got home.

My Parkdale