Monthly Archives: May 2020

the offering hat

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One of the things that I miss the most about “regular” life at the Dale (ie. pre-COVID), is the part of our Sunday service just before we pass around the offering hat. Erinn (or whichever of us is leading the service that day) always makes sure to explain that we all have good gifts to give, and that these gifts look very different from each other.

You might have a financial gift to put in the hat, a note of encouragement, or something else tangible (sometimes we get a pack of pencil crayons, a coupon, or a cigarette). Or maybe your gift is something else, like doing dishes at drop-in, or praying for the community, or giving good hugs (remember hugs??!!). If your gift is something like that, you are welcomed to hold the hat and offer your intention to God in prayer.

These days, of course, things look different. We aren’t able to meet for our Sunday services, and we don’t get to pass around our offering hat. Folks who would normally volunteer in the kitchen, play music during drop-ins or church, give hugs, etc, are unable to do so. However, the community continues to find ways to offer their gifts, in lots of different ways.

A couple of weeks ago someone came up to Erinn and said, “I don’t have money, but I want you to have this…”, handing her a $40 Tim Horton’s gift card that this friend had been given for their 74th birthday.

Today Pete went to drop off a bagged lunch to a beloved community member, and was given a bag containing homemade banana bread for the staff team to share.

Also today, one community member donated a bag of books, and another donated a few pieces of art.

So, although we can’t pass around our offering hat, the giftedness and generosity of this Dale community continues to shine.

 

In praise of shelter and housing workers

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If you’ve had your ear to the ground lately, surrounding issues of homelessness and housing in Toronto amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, you will likely have come across some strong opinions about the City’s response to these overlapping crises.

I’ve added my voice to the mix on social media, encouraging others to contact the mayor and city councillors to advocate for swift and appropriate action, especially when it seemed that encampments were going to be cleared before people living in them had received housing. I am also in support of the injunction being levied against the City, demanding that shelter standards be modified to adhere to necessary physical distancing guidelines, among other things.

I believe that when residents voice their concerns about social issues, it can make a difference. If enough public pressure is placed on people with decision-making power, things happen. So thank you to everyone who has been insisting that people who are homeless need to be safely housed, especially now.

The one thing that I lament about this type of advocacy (again, in which I firmly believe), is when shelter and housing workers get caught in the crossfire. I know and love many people who work tirelessly at city-funded shelters, as city-funded housing workers, and as city staff in the shelter and housing departments. These folks are amazing. They are doing the very best they can, with the resources that have been made available to them.

So let me be clear: when I refer to “the City” needing to do this or needing to do that, I am referring to the decision-makers who determine where resources will be allocated. I am not referring to the incredibly hard working folks at shelters, Streets to Homes, and the other agencies that are seeking to provide shelter to my friends. This is an important distinction, and one that I will be making more explicit in my future calls to advocacy.

So, thank you shelter and housing workers. I see you, and I appreciate the work that you are doing. We’re all in this together.