2014 Faces of FaithWorks

DECEMBER 23, 2014

Flemingdon Park Ministry

Nickole – Flemingdon Park Ministry
“My life has been full of tremendous changes over the last year.” Nickole had always worked, always paid her own way. When she became unemployed, she volunteered to work at Flemingdon Park Ministry. “My work here is helping my self-confidence. I like the fact that the people who come here are from many diverse backgrounds. I have lived in Flemingdon Park since 2009 but now I am beginning to feel like I am a member of this community. Everyone here treats me like a member of the family. They are great people.”Her involvement in the STAR (Skills Training, Access and Resources) Program gives her great hope for the future. “They are helping me with employment, housing, and life skills such as income and budgeting. They encourage me to my goals and follow through on achieving them.”Nickole’s Christmas wish is to find a full-time job “so I can get back to being independent as I have always been.”


DECEMBER 23, 2014

All Saints Church – Community Centre Toronto

Michael – All Saints Church – Community CentreMichael is retired but he has lots of energy to spare. He enjoys baking at the All Saints Church – Community Centre progam, Take This Bread. “It’s work that needs to be done. It’s good for our community. We’re all neighbours, we’re all friends. In here, we treat one another with respect.”Michael doesn’t drink liquor and he doesn’t do drugs and is proud of his independence. But when a little kitten turned up at his apartment, his heart melted. “At first I didn’t want her but now, as soon as I get home, she’s the first thing I look for. Her name is Tiger because she was a real tiger until she calmed down. It took about a month. Now she is my best friend.”Michael has three things on his Christmas list: “Be healthy, stay out of trouble, and try to keep everybody else happy.”


DECEMBER 18, 2014

LOFT Community Services

Patricia – LOFT Community Services
It is so healthy to be blooming and growing at this late stage of life. I am home. I am safe. This is my home.Patricia‘s Story: “At age 17 I had my first psychotic break. I went 10 years being schizophrenic and having psychotic breaks and was only diagnosed at 27. At age 39, they were looking for an institution to put me away for life because I was very disturbed and very sick and there was no way of reaching me. I was involved with a program at the Canadian Mental Health Association in Aurora, and one day people came from LOFT to tell us about their new housing program. I just asked and asked and asked, and I must have driven them crazy! I said ‘I’ve found my place!’ I just knew it was the right place for me. I was the third person to register. It was a gardener’s home and it was an awesome place. It was like a dream come true. It was my first experience of community because I was very isolated growing up. So instead of sitting there passively every day and looking into space and talking to my voices, and arguing with my voices, I had somebody there to go to and say, ‘I just heard this, is it real?’ It was such a different world. I had a purpose to get up every morning, and they looked after my meds and I was taking my meds daily and I was getting happier. After four and a half years, I was the first ‘graduate’ of LOFT in York Region. I was able to move back into the community, and I lived in a housing co-op for 18 years. Then I came back to my first home – LOFT. I have lived here in Bradford house for 10 months now. This is where I need to be now. I needed the support to remain independent and also at my age I needed the geriatric program. So I came home and it is ‘home’; it’s where I will be until I am no longer able.


DECEMBER 16, 2014

All Saints Church – Community Centre Toronto

Anne Marie – All Saints Church Community Centre

“All Saints is one of the best churches that I go to.” Anne Marie is an incurable optimist – she sees the good in everything and in everybody. I met her at the Friday drop-in for street-involved women at All Saints Church – Community Centre at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne Streets in Toronto. “A lot of people I know from the streets come here and there are new people too. Because I know their stories, they are good company. I’m basically a cheerful, happy person. Barb and Jules (who run the drop-in) and the breakfast ladies (the volunteers) all know me and like me. I’m popular and I’ll talk to everyone. I’ve even been on Breakfast TV a couple of times.” It’s easy to see why Anne Marie is so popular. I was a stranger in the room and as soon as she saw me she came right over to talk to me. I’ve got to say that hers was a much warmer greeting than I’ve gotten in some parishes that I’ve visited over the years. So I asked Anne Marie, what is it that makes this church so special to you? “It’s a place like home,” she told me. “If you need something, all you have to do is ask and they will give it to you if they have it. If they can’t that’s okay, too. I’m never worried because I always have enough.” I asked Anne Marie to tell me what gives her hope. She replied, “I like that word, hope. Hope is bringing people together. That’s my hope.” Anne Marie knows just what she wants for Christmas.  “…For the Leafs to win.  Go Leafs!!!”


DECEMBER 9, 2014

All Saints Church – Community Centre Toronto

Christopher – All Saints Church – Community Centre

Christopher has been a resident of the Dan Harrison Apartments since 2011. A Canadian Citizen, he was arrested as a 16-year-old in Texas and served a sixteen-year sentence of which the first six were spent in solitary confinement. After his release, he was deported to Canada and moved to Toronto where he was shocked at the many changes in society since he was sent to prison. He enjoys working at the All Saints Church – Community Centre program, Take This Bread, because it’s a positive environment, and very task oriented.“Coming here gets me out of my shell. Sitting at home with nothing to do isn’t much different from being in prison.” Christopher finds hope in knowing that he is a reflection of the Creator. He said, “every one of us is a reflection of the Creator and so is the entire universe. If we don’t value ourselves, how can we learn to value one another?” Christopher’s Christmas wish is for an end to war, so that there are “no more children being killed.”


DECEMBER 9, 2014

Flemingdon Park Ministry

Mary – Flemingdon Park Ministry

When I asked her what she wished for Christmas, she said, “peace everywhere and good health. When you are healthy you can do anything.”Mary told me that coming to Flemingdon Park Ministry has been a major influence in her life. Back at home in Iran, she was a trained microbiologist and university professor and after moving to Canada she accepted a teaching position at George Brown College. Now that she is retired, she found herself with lots of time and little to do. “When I come here, I have less stress. I meet new friends, enjoy knitting together in the women’s program, sharing meals and exchanging information with them. We are all helping one another here. I only wish we could meet more often. Coming here gets me out of my apartment where I am alone.” Being able to help others is a source of hope for Mary. “I enjoy helping people as much as I can. I teach them knitting, sewing, jewelry making and conversation. My English is not so good, but I help them as much as I can.” I was astonished when Mary told me that she is 80 years old.


DECEMBER 4, 2014

LOFT Community Services

Kathy – LOFT Community Services“I have lived other places but Bradford House is home.”

Kathy told me since she has lived at LOFT’s Bradford House, she has become calmer and better able to handle the stress in her life. “The social workers are here to help us.  I have learned problem solving and coping skills. I’m very outgoing and I like to help people. I volunteer in the kitchen and in the administrative office. And now I have a special person in my life. As soon as I saw him, I knew I wanted him to be my boyfriend. We go for walks and have coffee together.” Kathy can’t say enough about Bradford House. “It’s a beautiful place and everybody here is my friend. Carolyn (Donaldson – Bradford House Program Director) is my best friend!” I asked Kathy to tell me what gives her hope. She replied that since she has lived at Bradford House, “I have learned how to trust. When you have the kind of challenges I have had in my life, it is very hard to trust people. But I know that I can do what I can do to help other people. And that makes me happy.” Kathy is looking forward to Christmas and she knows just what she would like to find under the tree: “I love music, especially Country and Western and Pop. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help. I’ll do anything that will help other people.”


DECEMBER 2, 2014

Couchiching Jubilee House

Ann – Couchiching Jubilee House

Ann’s Story: When I first came to Couchiching Jubilee House, I had bad self-esteem and lots of anxiety. I had difficulty trusting people. With the support of the Jubilee staff and my dedicated group of volunteers, I was able to believe in myself. It was the chance to build relationships with safe, loving people that allowed me to feel worthy. Seeing myself through the eyes of these people modelled how to see myself truthfully and clearly, beyond the distortions that I came to believe about myself through prior abusive relationships. I was shown that I was worthy by the staff and volunteers who took the time to get to know me, to help me, and to share with me how I gave back to them in little ways. Building a family and support system with these amazing people is what has given me hope, the hope that I can do something with my abilities to give back to my community.My Christmas wish is that the traditions I recently created with my children bring them special, joyful family memories that they will have for the rest of their lives.


NOVEMBER 27, 2014

All Saints Church – Community Centre Toronto

Janet – All Saints Church – Community Centre
Happy birthday, Janet. You are a blessing to us all.

Today is Janet’s birthday. We recently met at the All Saints Church – Commnity Centre Thursday Women’s Drop-in and I asked her what difference All Saints has made in her life. “It was the luckiest day of my life when I moved into All Saints. Nobody is as lucky as I am because I am safe, secure, and loved. I used to have a $400 a day crack habit that I supported by doing sex work. I had been living on the streets and hadn’t seen a doctor in over seven years. Within a month of coming here, I had housing, disability support, and had quit sex work and drug dealing. I had the chance to become involved in a 15-week program that taught me how to become a peer worker. Since then I have been hired to be a part-time peer worker, doing outreach to women who are still on the streets. I go out every Friday morning carrying a backpack filled with clean drug kits, condoms, warm socks, snacks, whatever the women need, and invite them to come to the drop-in for breakfast, to see the nurse, get their hair cut, and just to be with other women who don’t judge them.”The women’s group at All Saints has also helped Janet reconnect with her family. “They helped me set up my Facebook page and by the next day 33 of my long-lost aunts, uncles, and cousins had accepted my “friend” request. When the drop-in is closed in the summer, I go to visit them.” Janet finds hope in knowing that people have helped her and she can now reach out to help others. “After all I have been through, and all that the people here have given me, I want to give back and maybe help someone else stuck in a bad spot. Now that I don’t have to worry about things like housing and food, maybe I can help someone else move out of the pit.” Janet has one Christmas wish: “I want to keep stepping forward as an example so that the people who mean the most to me never end up where I was.”


NOVEMBER 25, 2014

All Saints Church – Community Centre Toronto

Adrian – All Saints Church Community Centre

Adrian is an outgoing retiree, originally from Sudbury. He speaks French, Italian and English, like many members of his multicultural hometown. He enjoys working at All Saints Church’s Take This Bread Bakery.According to Adrian, “it gets me out of my apartment. I’ve worked all of my life and now that I am on disability, I don’t like having nothing to do. I enjoy the baking and selling bread to our neighbours. We used to make just bread, now we make banana bread and cinnamon rolls. We’re diversifying and experimenting. I’ve been here two years in April.”Adrian is a family man: “I have two beautiful daughters and my grandkids are the glory of my life. I come from a family of 10 and we still keep in touch.” He looks forward to spending time with his large and loving family at Christmastime. When I asked him if he had a Christmas wish,

NOVEMBER 18, 2014
Flemingdon Park MinistryBelkis – Flemingdon Park Ministry“I don’t know where to begin to describe the difference that Flemingdon Park Ministry has made in my life.” Belkis moved to Canada just two years ago and decided to volunteer to gain Canadian work experience.  Since then, she has been hired as the office administrator, working closely with The Reverend MacIvan Rogers in the Food Access Project. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the people and to serve them. We teach them about healthy food and nutrition, we have a community garden, and we share and serve the food that we grow with the members of our community. I’ve made new friends and I am happy to help people build up this community.” Belkis is grateful to have her job:  “Now I can take chances to grow as a person and as a professional. But my family is what is most important to me.” Belkis has three wishes this Christmas: “To be always together with family; to have peace in the world; and to give happiness to all of the people here.”NOVEMBER 13, 2014Couchiching Jubilee HousePam - Couchiching Jubilee HouseEight years ago, pregnant with her second child, Pam realized that she could no longer live with her father and his girlfriend. She wanted to provide a healthy and stable home life for her growing family but she had no idea where to turn. That all changed when she went to spend a year at Couchiching Jubilee House. Pam received wrap-around support from Jubilee House staff and volunteers as well as social workers, pediatricians, and others who cared about Pam and wanted to see her succeed. Pam says that “my life changed because of the support I received and the educational funding that allowed me to go back to school. I graduated with a 98 average and today I work as a full-time personal support worker. I love my job and I am grateful for all of the love and support – as well as the help that my family received through the Children’s Activity Fund.” Pam’s experience has been so successful that she has been invited to join the Board of Couchiching Jubilee House. “It’s something that I might consider for the future, but right now, my family comes first.”NOVEMBER 11, 2014All Saints Church – Community Centre TorontoDaniel - All Saints Church Community CentreLike many of his fellow bakers, Daniel is grateful that the All Saints Church – Community Centre program, Take This Bread, gives him a place to go and something meaningful to do with his time. “I’ve been [in this program] three years and that means a lot. The Church encourages our participation and listens to our concerns. The Church brings stability to this neighbourhood.” He says that Take This Bread is the best thing that has happened in his community in a very long time. “The tenants get a lot out of it. We bake the bread, we sell it to them at a fair price, and they get the satisfaction of knowing that the bread was made right here by people they know. We’re all neighbours, getting along, working together to build a stronger community.”Daniel beams with pride when he talks about his son. “He comes here to help me serve meals after Church on Sunday and at the community barbecues in the summer. He completed his 160 hours of Community Service requirements here. His mother has cancer so I take him on the weekends. We enjoy our time together and his mum feels better to see that he is so happy.” Daniel believes that Take This Bread should be a model for community development. “Food makes people happy. We need more programs like this. We need to stop enabling people, give them the opportunity to give back.”

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