Paying it Forward

claire-MAINBy Claire Ourum
Published: May 25, 2013


There is something special about being a member of a community, a community where you are not just another person, but part of a group of people.

I am proud to say I was born and raised in a small community, one in which you grow up knowing the name of everyone your age, or where you are bound to run into someone you know at the grocery store, no matter the time of day.

Yet even though I come from the small community of Squamish, and even though it is a community where neighbours look out for one another and where we smile to passers-by on the street, we are all guilty of becoming enveloped in the bubble of our own lives from time to time.

I have been lucky enough to be an employee at a local coffee shop on and off over the past four years, a coffee shop that harbors a sense of community, caring and friendship, and where the ‘regulars’ notice my semi-regular departures and returns.

Last week my normal morning shift became one that I will never forget. One of our ‘regulars’ handed me a significant amount of money and gave me instructions to use it to pay for the coffee of the customers after him until it ran up.

This act of uncommon generosity made me question the customer for an explanation; simply put he asked me if I had ever seen ‘Pay it Forward’.

Coincidentally I happen to love this movie not only because its premise relies on both of the good of humanity but also the positive impact of the individual; the main concept being if one person (one kid) does something nice for someone and that person in turn passes on a good deed to someone else, and so on and so forth, it could potentially touch the lives of hundreds.

This man not only made the morning of many sleepy individuals in need of caffeine, but also reminded me that everyone has the potential to, and can make a difference.

We can all bring a light to someone else’s day, yet sometimes we get so wrapped up in our lives we forget. We forget how a smile could light up someone’s day or how uplifting recognition for a job well done can be, even the simple task of letting someone with fewer groceries go ahead of you in line can make a strangers day, and of course one can always buy coffee for a stranger.

Sometimes we need a little kick-start, and sometimes we need to be reminded of all the kindness, humility, love and good in the world.

This man started a chain of pay it forward, and I hope you, the locals of this community I am proud to call home, will be inspired by this heartwarming story of your average local citizen performing such a simple yet uncommon act, and will in turn be stirred to start your own chain of pay it forward.





  1. Jim Harvey says:

    Nicely put Claire.