Tag Archives: outreach

The spice of life


If variety is the spice of life, yesterday was a flavourful day!

We met in the morning to do some admin work at our new “office”, the kitchen of a baptist church in Chinatown that has graciously offered us space, access to wifi, and a coffee maker 🙂 We talked through some logistics, answered emails, and wrote letters to members of our support team.

Next on the docket was a recording session for “The Noisy Jesus Band”, a group of musicians from The Dale who help lead worship on Sundays. A generous friend of one of the community musicians has supplied some equipment that makes recording possible, and so The NJB got down to work!

After a quick lunch-on-the-go, Meagan, Erinn and I then journeyed to the apartment of a community member who struggles with hoarding. This friend had been talking about having us come to help clean for quite a while now, and this week took the vulnerable plunge to have us over. It was saddening to see the conditions in which our friend lives, but a privilege to be invited in. Our friend played upbeat music and told us stories while we began the process of cleaning up.

After saying goodbye to our friend, I popped by the community garden to do some weeding in The Dale’s plot. The dill, kale and parsley that we planted as seeds are sprouting up nicely, and our basil, tomato, rosemary, oregano and mint plants are doing well too. I connected with another gardener who was curious about who we are and what we do. I gave him our info, and he said he’ll considering joining us for a drop-in or church service with his daughter sometime soon.

On my way through one of the many Parkdale parkettes, I ran into Marlene, a dear community member who was going to feed the birds. She stopped for a little chat and a hug. Marlene makes my heart smile.

My final stop was the apartment of a community member who is currently in the ICU at St. Jo’s. This friend is the proud and loving owner of six cats and a dog, and a few of us at The Dale are taking turns caring for these critters. Yesterday was my turn. I’m sad for these little dudes, as they miss their mom, and grateful that we were able to gain access to her place in order to help care for them.

So yeah. That was our day. Just another day at The Dale.

I am grateful for the generosity of our many supporters, and the person who donated that recording equipment. I am grateful for the way our friends let us into the vulnerable spaces of their lives, and that we receive such care from the community at the same time. And I’m grateful for new growth sprouting from the good earth, and new connections that remind me of the that saying my dad instilled in me: “there’s no such thing as strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet!”

Toronto, the small town


I love outreach. Erinn wrote a great post about outreach yesterday ( http://erinnoxford.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/reason-1001/ ), and last night I had another experience that I’d like to share.

I am part of a number of communities in Toronto outside The Dale, and these communities often overlap in a delightfully symbiotic way. One of these communities is Sanctuary, another church that is particularly welcoming to those on the margins. As I wrote in my “A bit of background” post, Sanctuary is where I got my start in street level ministry in Toronto, and it continues to be a very important community to me in a number of ways.

A large part of Sanctuary’s ministry, like The Dale’s, is outreach. Last night I joined a friend on late-night outreach downtown. It was super (SUPER!) cold, so we stopped in at all the 24-hour McDonalds stores along Yonge Street to warm up, and to check in with folks who were also taking refuge from the cold.

During one of these stops we chatted with a man whom I had met the night before, during outreach in Parkdale! I had to do a double-take, because it seemed a bit unlikely… But sure enough it was him!

On Wednesday night I had invited him to come for lunch on Monday with The Dale, and last night he told me that he planned to be there! He is someone who loves to cook, and told me that he planned to bring some food along to share with us. And he wanted to make sure that my Sanctuary outreach partner got to taste his curry too! He wasn’t satisfied until I committed to taking some of his food home, and delivering it to my friend on the other side of town. It was one of those moments when Toronto really felt like a small town, and the communities that I call home revealed themselves to be connected in a beautiful web.

Like I said, I love outreach!