Sam arrived in Canada during a blinding snowstorm just before Christmas, 2013. He was greeted by members of his parish sponsorship team who quickly arranged for Sam to trade in his lightweight hoodie and running shoes – the clothes he had on his back when he left his homeland of Eritrea as a refugee – for a warm parka, mitts and boots. His sponsorship was facilitated with the help of AURA – the Anglican United Refugee Alliance. AURA staff were enormously helpful to the parish welcoming committee in submitting their application to become refugee sponsors, planning for Sam’s arrival, and addressing concerns that came up after his arrival in Canada. Continue reading “Sam – AURA”
The Lakefield After-School Program (ASP) is a partnership between St. John the Baptist, Lakefield, and Lakefield Youth Unlimited. ASP offers a safe, fun, and caring environment for youth in grades 2-8 with a focus on the educational and character development of the youth who participate. The weekly after-school program includes food time, fun time, tutoring time, and God time.
I recently asked several youth why they enjoy their time at ASP. A 6-year-old boy said, “I like playing games and the people here are nice to me.” An 8-year-old girl told me that “ASP is a lot of fun. I wish it was every day!” Another girl, aged 9, replied, “It helps me to believe in God. It teaches us about the Bible. They also help me with my homework.”
“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.”
Chris’s story is an example of what’s possible when we all take a Leap of Faith Together (LOFT). “I was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1989.” Having grown up in Parry Sound, Ontario, Chris experienced culture shock when he moved to Toronto to begin his university studies. “I didn’t do well during my first year and after going home for summer break, I was not accepted back into residence at UofT. I moved into a rooming house where there was no support. It wasn’t long before my health deteriorated until I was hospitalized for four months. My condition stabilized on medication and I enrolled in the Redirection through Education Program (Seneca College). The support and encouragement I received there empowered me to advocate on my own behalf to the Housing Board. When I was accepted into the supportive housing program and was shown my first apartment it was a bit overwhelming, but my family helped me to clean it up and make it my own. Twenty years later, I live in a one-bedroom apartment that is clean and comfortable.” Continue reading “Chris Whittaker – LOFT Community Services”
Eight 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.”