Sometimes you are lucky enough to meet someone who changes the lives of others on a daily basis. Anne Marie Batten of Toronto is one of those people.
When the chance to nominate her for the Scotiabank Game Changers was presented I had no trouble writing three essays on her work with the homeless. On October 8 she was honoured as a Regional Scotiabank Game Changer.
Earlier this year I met Anne Marie and got to walk beside her as she tended to those living on the streets. She got down on the sidewalks sitting beside men and women who dealt not only with extreme poverty but mental health issues that others looked away from. Instead of looking away she smiled, hugged and nursed the invisible ones that live in Canada's richest city. A smile and a pair of socks comforted many, others needed more and she gave whatever she could.
A quick friendship grew between Anne Marie and myself. She showed me a side of Toronto that needed a voice. For a tiny woman Anne Marie has a loud voice when it comes to those who are silenced by the red tape and barriers that raise up when poverty comes into play.
In August I saw a press release for the Scotiabank Game Changers. The competition recognizes those who have demonstrated leadership as they make a difference in their communities. To nominate someone three essays must be written about why the person should be considered as a Game Changer. I've met a lot of people in Toronto who are worthy of such an honour but Anne Marie's daily selfless acts put her at the top of that list. I quickly wrote the essays and submitted them. I let Anne Marie know about the program after I knew she would be contacted so she didn't think it was a joke. Late August and September we took to Twitter and Facebook promoting the contest knowing that if Anne Marie won any of the prizes Street Health would be given a donation. That donation would benefit the increasing numbers of homeless that live in Toronto.
In late September Anne Marie was contacted and told she had won one of the Regional Game Changers spots for Toronto. On Thanksgiving during the Argos game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Anne Marie was given a $1,000 cheque for Street Health. She invited her husband Derek McIntyre, daughter Emma Batten and myself to go to the game with her to experience the day.
The following is the fun a Scotiabank Regional Game Changer gets to experience game day!