Remembering Lynn Thomson
Written by Admin
Winnipeg Women Magazine mourns the passing of 2009 Winnipeg's Most Beautiful Women winner Lynn Thomson this past week.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2009 issue.
The list of adversities Lynn Thomson has had to face in her life is longer and more complex than most people could imagine.
For 24 years she struggled with serious drug and alcohol addictions and a multitude of devastating health problems—a path that likely would have either eventually landed her in jail or in a coffin.
Miraculously, nearly 12 years ago, she found the courage to start the difficult road to sobriety. Lynn has been clean ever since, and today leads the only crystal meth recovery program in Winnipeg at Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY), a West Broadway street-youth resource centre.
“This job—these kids—are what keep me going. If I didn’t have it, maybe my health would be 10 times worse. When you wake up and you realize my dogs, my husband, my life—all wouldn’t have been possible without recovery, without a second chance at life and I have to give that away,” she says.
“It was given freely to me and I have to present my life experiences—good, bad and indifferent—to people because it just might help them. You never know who it is going to help.”
Whether it’s providing a kind ear one-on-one, leading a sharing circle, or taking a group of youths to a movie, Lynn reaches out day after day. She is loved and adored by dozens, if not hundreds, of Winnipeg’s most vulnerable young people.
“The best thing that’s happened since this group started is that we have close to 30 people up on my big board that have a year or more off meth or cocaine. That’s just huge. It is just all about love and support,” she says.
One of six children, Lynn grew up in the west side of Winnipeg. Her family was poor, and she never quite felt like they fit in. At 12, Lynn’s life took a turn for the worse when her parents split up and she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
It’s a condition that has resulted in health challenges shadowing her for the rest of her life. She has had triple bypass surgery, a below-the-knee leg amputation and is slowly losing her eyesight.
“(When I was young), I always felt stupid and different. I had what I believe is a learning disability in school. I got teased a lot. I turned to drugs because I thought something was wrong with me,” she says.
For years, Lynn would run away. Usually it was the cops who would bring her home. She spent time in group homes, but ran from those, too. At 36, she hit rock bottom when she found herself with a loaded gun in her hands, contemplating suicide. She called her brother-in-law and urged him to take her to the hospital.
That day changed her life forever. She relapsed once after, but soon found comfort and healing in her sessions with other addicts in recovery. There, she met her husband who died of health problems three years ago, but was instrumental in changing her life.
Despite all her hardships, the 49-year-old youth support worker has an outlook on life that is optimistic and inspiring and she plans to spend the remainder of her life giving back.
Today, in between her dialysis three times a week, Lynn provides support and guidance to any youth that walks through RAY’s doors. They find serenity in her story, in her encouragement and in her unconditional love.
“I believe a hug can go a long away. It goes a long, long way,” she says. “If you make a difference in one person’s life then you’re doing a good job, because that person can have ripple effects and you have no idea where it’s going to go.”
—by Selena Hinds
How do you capture the essence of beauty in words? More than 50 nominators attempted to do just that in this year’s Winnipeg’s Most Beautiful Women contest, where we asked our readers to show us the women in their lives who best reflected the true meaning of the word “beauty”. Two hundred words are not nearly enough to express the achievements of these women, but many nominators were able, in a single sentence, to illustrate their beauty.
“Beauty conducts life with honesty, dignity and compassion, often sharing willing hands and kind spirit with those in need.”
“I love (my daughter) dearly and secretly wish at times I could be more like her.”
“My grandmother makes me look forward to getting older.”
“Her love for people and caring for them outshines her gorgeous smile.”
We congratulate all of this year’s nominees:
Dr. Elin Bergman
Louise M. Blanchard
Carolyne Margaret Braid
Patricia M. Fay
Cindy Marie Small
Our distinguished panel of judges had no easy task in choosing the five winners. A big thank you to: Tara Lee Andreas, Ruth Asper, LuAnn Lovlin, Phyllis Reader and Billie Jo Ross for taking the time from their already busy lives to participate.
Winners photographed by Ruth Bonneville