Monthly Archives: March 2020

Community Despite COVID

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First of all, I want to say thank you for taking time to read this little update on life at The Dale during this pandemic. In the midst of such uncertain times, it means so much to have such a great team of supporters. We do not take you for granted!

As I’m sure you can imagine, the “social distancing” measures that we are all being encouraged to take are especially hard on folks for whom social isolation is the norm. It’s also very difficult or impossible to self-isolate if you don’t have a home in which to do so. If you live in a bachelor apartment or a room in a rooming house, staying inside all day is pretty brutal, and you likely do not have the means or the space to stockpile food. Many of our folks at The Dale are experiencing the compounded hardship of poverty, loneliness, and now the closure of many of the locations where food and social interaction are usually available. 

Given all of these realities, we as The Dale staff team are determined to remain as present as we possibly (and safely) can during this pandemic. One of the great gifts of being a church without our own walls is that we, as a community, are very accustomed to the need to be creative in the ways that we meet. While things are changing daily, we have managed thus far to modify our usual programming. Here is our current weekly schedule:

Sunday– We meet outside 201 Cowan Ave, our usual Sunday worship space. Keeping a safe distance apart, we sing some songs, pray, and pass the peace by looking one another in the eye, rather than shaking hands or hugging. It’s pretty sweet.

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Monday–  We meet outside 201 Cowan Ave, and lunches to-go. Our food delivery from Second Harvest has been able to continue, our friends at Capital Espresso have graciously provided FRESH buns (pictured below), and our friend Natasha has mobilized a troop of bakers to provide yummy things for dessert. Our partners at Greenest City and Epiphany and St. Mark’s Anglican have allowed us the use of an industrial kitchen in which to safely prepare these meals, and tent under which to serve meals.

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Thursday– We meet outside the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Center, our usual Thursday breakfast and art spot, to hang out (at a safe distance) and hand out bagged brunches.

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I’ve already mentioned a number of amazing partnerships for which we are grateful, but I’d like to mention a few more:

When I severely under-estimated the amount of supplies that I needed to move from one location to another, the Executive Director of the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust saw me struggling along Queen Street and helped me out.

Our beloved friends and colleagues at Sanctuary have generously shared fresh food that has been donated to them, which will go a long way when we prepare the next few meals for our Dale community.

A dear friend asked what was needed at The Dale (see below for the answer to that question!), and then personally dropped off a bale of paper towel and many ziploc bags at my house, along with some beautiful flowers. ❤20200324_130707

So, in the midst of all that is scary and grim in the world these days, The Dale is still chugging along, and is experiencing the beautiful strength of community.

Thank you again for your support of me and The Dale. We couldn’t do this without all of you!

If you are wondering how to provide additional support to The Dale these days, here is a list of things we could use:

-brown paper bags for to-go meals

-new food containers and ziploc bags

-grocery gift cards

-Tim Hortons and McDonalds gift cards

-pre-packaged snacks, e.g. granola bars

-new socks

-bottled water

-hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes

-a lot of good thoughts and prayer

-money

A donation right now enables us to purchase any needed items ourselves. To give online click here.

Grace and peace to each of you in these wild times,

Joanna

Beloved Chris

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Ten days ago, before COVID 19 was the first thing on everyone’s mind, the world lost a truly beautiful soul. So, in the midst of all the pandemic news, I’d like to take a pause and share my appreciation for the life of Chris Vanhartskamp.

It’s hard to adequately describe Chris’ impact. He was such an integral part of the Sanctuary community that it’s hard to imagine 25 Charles St. East without him. I’m sure that pretty much everyone who calls Sanctuary home will have a story to share about Chris’ friendship, generosity, silliness, or faith.

Chris just had a way about him; a way of making people feel like they were really important. As an Indigenous person who was removed from his family of origin early in his life, he would have had every reason to distrust and dismiss white Christians like me. But instead he welcomed us into his circle.

I remember the first time Chris called me “Sis”, back when I was an intern at Sanctuary in 2011. I was completely beside myself; overwhelmed at the honour that he had bestowed on me, despite the fact that I was still new in the community. One of the amazing things about Chris was if he said you were “in”, you were in. But it didn’t take years of being tested and proving yourself for Chris to extend a hand of welcome. He could see when someone wanted to be his friend, and he opened his heart willingly. What a gift, and what a teaching.

Chris also struggled mightily. His heart was full of love, and full of pain. Another thing that I appreciate about Chris is that he shared his struggles openly with his church family. I remember Chris praying this prayer at Sanctuary a couple of years ago: “I love you, Jesus. And I’m just really pissed off with you… I know you love me, Jesus. I’m just having a hard time receiving it.” His vulnerability and faith in the midst of his anger and pain was remarkable.

Chris, I miss you. Thank you for opening up your heart and life to me, and SO many others. Thank you for all that you taught us. Rest well, my friend.

 

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