ESQUIMALT, B.C. -- Stanny bends down to grab a couple discarded coffee cups lying on the ground. The senior says she picks up every piece of litter she walks past.

“It just lies all over the place,” she says before explaining why she does it. “It makes this little town look better.”

Today Stanny is en route to a thrift store. Her hands are filled with litter and the bag of clothes she’s planning to donate. 

The multi-coloured jester hat she’s wearing on her head definitely won’t be donated. Stanny says she needs it to help spread joy.

When she’s not gathering trash, Stanny’s saying hello or smiling to passing strangers. 

“Walking down the street you make all kinds of new friends," she laughs, as the bells at the ends of her hat jingle.

Stanny first spotted the jester hat in a downtown store window, and bought it immediatly because it reflected her personality. “And now this is how I am,” she laughs. 

Did you notice she said 'now?' As opposed to ‘then’ — when she was in elementary school and so painfully shy she couldn’t approach other kids to play. 

“I would just stand 30 feet away and wish I could [be with them],” Stanny says. “So sad.” 

But the saddest moment of all was being too shy to raise her hand for the bathroom in Grade 1 and having an accident in class.

“Even in Grade 5, one boy was giving me a hard time about that,” she says. 

Stanny feels compassion for the boy now, just like she feels compassion for the man who caused her to join the Al-Anon club. In that group, she had to speak vulnerably in front of people.

“Then I realized there were people who were a lot more shy than I was,” Stanny says. “I just kind of got stronger or developed a strength I didn’t know I had.” 

Stanny ended up becoming so empowered she began leading groups and feeling relieved she could finally be herself.

“[Now] I’m not squeezed into that little shell,” she explains with a smile. “I can just appreciate people walking down the street.” 

Stanny finds a garbage can to discard all the litter she collected, before donating all the clothes she was carrying. 

“It’s just a good thing to do,” she smiles.

Then Stanny starts walking back home, her jester hat jingling with every step. 

She waves goodbye to me before saying hello to a couple other people, picking up litter and lifting up spirits along the way.