Last Sunday was sunny and HOT. We had our big green tent canopy set up, and had positioned chairs in the shade, in anticipation of our outdoor church service. The service began, and the chairs filled up. More chairs were fetched as more people showed up, and eventually there was no more room in the rectangle of shade for any more chairs. I found myself sitting in the sun, and decided to be okay with getting a little burnt.
Then suddenly…I was shaded! A dear Dale friend stood over me, holding up an umbrella. I demurred, as he seemed intent on standing there, holding the umbrella for the duration of the service! So instead he handed it to me, and returned to his chair. I was overcome with gratitude, as I was covered in shade.
One of the things that I love most about The Dale, and that I have missed most during much of COVID, is the way that we take care of each other. This mutuality is core to our philosophy, and has been tricky to live out during this pandemic.
Usually we invite people to help cook our community meals, set tables, do dishes, play music, share wisdom during our discussion-based Bible studies, exchange the peace with a hug or a handshake etc. Nearly all these options have been either eliminated or altered during the last 16 months, and that’s been hard. Don’t get me wrong- as a community we have found ways to both give and receive. But it’s just not as straightforward as it used to be.
Now that many of our folks have been double vaxxed and restrictions are loosening, it feels like we’re starting to see more opportunities for mutual care. Like an umbrella on a sunny day 🙂
If you’ve been following the journey of the Dale for any length of time, you’ll know that we’re ALL about partnerships. We are so grateful for the many meaningful relationships we have with individuals and organizations in Parkdale and beyond (including with you, dear reader!)
One of the partnerships that we’ve seen deepen over the last number of years is with the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Center (PQWCHC). During non-COVID times we host a breakfast and art drop-in at the health center, and we have collaborated with them for more than a few memorials for mutual friends in the community.
A little while ago a nurse practitioner from PQWCHC asked Erinn if The Dale would consider hosting a vaccine clinic at one of our drop-ins, with the hopes of reaching folks who might otherwise struggle to access a shot. We, of course, said YES PLEASE!
Yesterday a team of doctors, nurses and community workers assembled in the sanctuary of Epiphany and St. Mark’s Anglican, the church outside of which we have been serving our meals-to-go during COVID. As people arrived for lunch, they were invited to access the vaccine clinic for a first dose, or a second dose if they were eligible (based on timing and vaccine match.)
Many folks had many questions, and it was amazing to be able to direct each person to a knowledgeable health care provider to help answer those queries. Some people chose to decline, which was totally fine, and many others chose to proceed with the vaccine, having had their questions addressed with respect and dignity. A number of people teared up with gratitude/relief/amazement that this opportunity was made available, in a safe setting with a community-minded health care team at the helm.
Thank you to this amazing team from PQWCHC. Parkdale is a better, and safer, place for having you here!