“Bradford is #1 for me, I really, really want to help!” says Laura Tansella, Bradford mother of two and organizer of the local group ‘Bradford Hustlers’.
Tansella moved to Bradford over 15 years ago from Woodbridge, Ontario with her husband John and her two children Alessandro, 21 and Selena, 19.
Over the years, Tansella has watched Bradford grow with all different types of communities expanding over the region.
“When I moved here, there was nothing around. Now there’s a lot more people coming up to our town and I see more people helping each other," notes Tansella.
When Tansella’s children left for college and university, she found herself wanting to give back to her community. She decided to start a walking group, the "Bradford Hustlers”; a group of women who meet up for weekly walks around town and support one another, both physically and emotionally.
“It was my first time starting a group to help people,” states Tansella. “To go outside, get fresh air, and help other families."
Tansella describes herself as someone who walks up to strangers and says hello without even knowing their name. She has inspired many women in Bradford, especially during Covid, to get out and get moving to improve mental and emotional health.
“I always tell my kids, if you can help someone, you never know what you will get back tomorrow," shares Tansella.
Tansella was born in Ecuador with eight brothers. Her family grew up on a coffee and plantain farm where her parents were always giving back to community members in need.
“My father would always give away baskets of food to others in the community," remembers Tansella. “Back home, we didn’t have a food bank [and] people couldn’t afford much. So, we would give away coffee, rice, and bags of bananas."
Tansella’s husband John supports her endeavors including her walking group Bradford Hustlers because it “keeps our community going".
“I have to make sure my family comes first of course, but he will remind me when my walk is coming up," shares Tansella.
During her walks in Bradford, Tansella met (her now good friend) Silvia Amaya, the mother of 17-year-old José Amaya who passed away in a freak accident near a construction site off Miller Park Avenue in in 2017.
“I have been friends with Silvia for 10 years [and] met her just by walking on the street,” remembers Tansella. “When her son died, she became depressed and stayed inside the house. It was very hard for her. She didn’t want to get out at all. So, one day I went to her house and encouraged her to go for a walk with me."
Tansella shares that their walk around the block turned into many more walks, and from that day forward, Amaya hasn’t missed a single walk with the Bradford Hustlers.
“Her doctors said, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!” states Tansella. “Now we work out together in my garage."
Amaya also shares “Thank you for cheering us up and being my hero! You are helping me move on and try to get out of my darkness and pain… I thank you from my heart."
Recently, Tansella’s group donated food to the Helping Hand Food Bank. She states she would like to continue to support the food bank and do much more in the community.
“I’ve always liked to give back… If I see something and I want to help someone, I will buy it to help them," describes Tansella.
Tansella adds that anyone who is struggling with anything is welcome to join her and the rest of the Bradford Hustlers on their walks. The group meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the parking lot of St. Angela Merici Public School at 7p.m.
“I want to continue to help people” expresses Tansella. “Anyone can reach out to me any time for help!”
The Bradford Hustlers now have a Facebook group where new members can join.
“If someone is struggling, we will be there as a team," adds Tansella. “It’s free to help someone!”