Greg Horn, (This article first appeared on Kahnawake News on Apr 21, 2022).
Playground Poker and Original Tobacco Traders made a life-changing donation to a local single mother recently. Last Wednesday, Christy Lahache, a mother of ten, received a donation of a Dodge Caravan from Playground and OTT.
“I’m so filled with joy and I feel loved,” Lahache told Iorì:wase. “I actually feel that I am so out of words with how much I appreciate this.”
This donation actually has its roots from this past Christmas when Playground delivered holiday food baskets to a number of Kahnawa’kehró:non in need. It was there that Michael Thomas met Lahache and found out more of her situation and needs.
“This all came from me talking with Mike about my situation at Christmas,” Lahache explained. “I was just a month fresh out of an accident and I didn’t have much help.”
Lahache explained that when she first met Thomas she explained to him about her issues and the difficulties she and her children were facing – including having special needs and other medical issues.
Following the holidays Thomas and Mackenzie Kirby discussed ways to provide some lasting help. Then a few weeks ago Thomas reached out to Lahache and asked her to write a letter to explain her needs so they could do something to help her and her family.
After receiving the letter, Playground and OTT met, and decided that they would look for a van that would help Lahache and her family. After some shopping around, they went to Solution Ford in Chateauguay and explained what they were doing to the salesman. Thomas explained that dealership then offered to knock $2,000 off the price of the Dodge Caravan and include one year of oil changes.
Thomas explained that through the Kanien’kehá:ka Funding Association, Playground and OTT, have done similar types of donations in the past, but were never very public about these donations.
“We’ve been doing it for a long time,” Thomas said. “But not being vocal about the things we do. We believe its time now to let people know. We have to get out there and spread the message that we can do these things.”
Thomas said that during times of struggles the community comes together like no other, and he feels that we should also be helping each other when we’re not in crisis mode as well.
“People need to know that we can do these things, not only in conflict, but in everyday life,” Thomas said.
Thomas also said that helping out fellow community members is also a part of our collective responsibility, according to our traditional teachings.
“I think this can became a sort of social glue that can bring our people together,” Thomas said. “We want to spread that message.”
Thomas said that they are working on resurrecting the KFA, which he explained was in the works prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that was put on hold at that time. He also said that once the KFA is relaunched, it will be opened up to the community to participate in.
“We’re going to do great things and we’d like everybody to experience the feeling of helping someone and having that impact,” Thomas said.
Joe Frank Thomas also said that it is important to help people in need.
“Hearing about this lady’s situation, how can you not help?” Joe Frank said. “You’re changing her life now.”
He said that this donation will help her in a lasting way. He said that he hopes that this has a snowball effect and gets more people wanting to get involved and helping community members.
“It’s a cool thing to be a part of,” he said.
Kirby said that they each come from community businesses that are successful and are able to do things like this.
“We’re all very much like-minded, it’s great to do good things and successful things on the business side, but it’s equally, if not more important, to make sure we share those success with the community any which way we can,” Kirby said. “When situations like this come to our table, I would say it’s a pretty decision for all of us to jump on board and help in any way we can. We understand that there are a lot of needs that this community has, and it will only continue to grow, whether it be from the pandemic or just to see what the future brings, but I think it’s important for us to convey that we’re looking for other people to jump in that same boat as us.”