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2017group2017 was our fifth full year of operation of our Beloved Mission. Since our very first Street outing on July 15, 2012 we have endeavoured to bring Food, Friendship and Compassion to our Street Friends in downtown Winnipeg. We have grown so much from that first meal- from one serving table then to the 12 tables we used at our Annual BBQ this year; from a handful of serving volunteers then to a huge flock of over 100 eager souls today who have experienced firsthand or had a taste of the ‘why’ of this mission and want to be an active, bigger part of it. We have worked together extremely well as a united group with a common bond and purpose. Our community support for our efforts have grown in leaps and bounds- nowhere more evident than this past year- and has been magnificent. Over this time, we have learned a lot about the lay of the land, the plight of, the resources and lack thereof for our Homeless Friends, what they are dealing with, and the tough lives they live struggling with many things. We make an initial connection with the offer of nutritious food; but I believe that the enduring and more meaningful and substantial connection is the feelings of Friendship and Compassion we enjoy together; and the knowledge that on Sundays and Thursdays, at least, we will always show up and be there for them, and that they can count on us.

 Our core operations are to provide a Thursday hot supper meal at 5 pm and a Breakfast Sunday mornings year round- with an extra Sunday in 2017, this meant 105 outings in total in 2017. For the Thursday outings there are 4 distinct serving crews of 8-10 people each. Sunday Breakfast and a Movie (the 33 indoor hot Breakfasts) utilizes 4 separate and unique serving crews as well, with the St. Saviour’s crew participating on the 3rd Sunday of each month, year round. The crews are all robust and highly motivated.

Providing direct support for these meals are our Sandwich Making and Casserole Making sessions, held usually on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. For most of these sessions, the two groups work side by side in the Parish Hall. In 2017 the Casserole makers, led by Bonnie Scott, made 160 casseroles themselves; and their efforts were supplemented by WASO workers and clients who also contributed extra casseroles periodically throughout the year (In addition to this, WASO contributed baking to us throughout the year, particularly in February and March when our baking supplies were at their lowest). Our Sandwich Making gang led by Kathy Allan and Bob Buchanan made 20,945 sandwiches in 25 sessions involving 529.5 person hours of labour. This is a substantive amount of labour- to put it another way if one person were to make all of the sandwiches we needed, working a 16 hour day, it would take that person 33 days and 2 hours to do it!! As of the end of 2017, there have been 129 Sandwich Making Sessions hosted in the Parish Hall to date!

Some highlights of the year: In February Canstar reporter Suzanne Hunter interviewed our Social Media Coordinator Rob Nykoluk about our Mission. Her piece was published in the Canstar Herald on February 10th. As a direct result of this article, our Communications Officer Bob Buchanan was invited to come to give a presentation to Mrs. Isaak’s Grade 2 and 3 class at Radisson School, showing dozens of photos and telling some of his favourite stories about our work on the street. The children were enthusiastic; and this event kicked off a major food drive which they delivered to the church themselves!

We enjoyed many other instances of enthusiasm and support of our work by our Community Youth in 2017. Blessed Sacrament Parish Catechism Children organized their ‘Socks of Love’ drive- much needed socks filled with toiletries- which we distributed in February and then again on April 12th. The Blessed Sacrament Youth Group assisted us at our sandwich making session on March 22nd, helping us make 1034 sandwiches and 12 casseroles that night. They also assembled 42 Hope Bags containing treats, toiletries and a personal message in each one from a Youth member, which we were happy to distribute. On June 20th, 26 students from Sherwood School came to a special sandwich making session on a Tuesday afternoon and made 536 sandwiches for us. In November, St. Alphonsus School’s Social Justice Club held a juice drive for us. Also in November, Tyler Leighton spoke to an assembly at Emerson Elementary about Gifts of Grace and teacher Amanda Haines organized a food drive in November that raised an equivalent of 3 grocery carts full of food! On December 6th, 16 young ladies from the 303 Guides and 303 Pathfinders helped us make 1345 sandwiches that night. To witness all of this altruistic effort from our Youth, we see hope for the future of our world with this younger generation. Hooray for our Youth!!!

Other Highlights:

-In an effort to recognize the ongoing support of some of our longest standing business partners, we delivered and presented framed Appreciation Certificates to each of them in January.

-Breakfast and a Movie hit the milestone of #250 on Sunday March 12th. There was a special cake, decorated by our own professional decorator, Kathy Allan.

-On April 8th, Rev. Edmund Laldin hosted another sold out fundraising evening of Pakistani Gourmet food. Gifts of Grace received 50% of the proceeds of the evening.

-In the spring we purchased 2 large rice cookers (one for Thursday and one for Sunday cooking) and also bought extra study casserole pans as well as 2 additional tables for our outdoor supper meals.

-With input from the whole group, our Mission Brochure was designed, printed and made its debut and was circulated within our group to fan out on June 5. We are quite happy with it, and are grateful to Rob Nykoluk in providing leadership on this.

-Our 3rd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Night was held on June 21st. It was well attended and spirited, with pizza, chips, soft drinks and other beverages. Our very own Rosie Schau and her comedy troupe, The Bling Sisters, provided entertainment. Hilarity and merriment prevailed.

-Our 5th Annual Street BBQ was held August 24, serving over 600 hot dogs, coleslaw, pasta salad, sandwiches, potato chips, baking, ice cream, & 70 litres of juice. Over 100 servings of juice were poured into reusable sport water bottles. We also handed out socks, water, toiletries and feminine hygiene products. Caricature artist Al Sideen was again onsite for his 3rd straight year rendering portraits for our delighted patrons.   DMS Industrial Constructors provided the food, and Wolseley Mechanical provided the large BBQ and the manpower to operate it.

-We mourned the passing of dear Street Friends: Cherri in January; Robert Chartrand (Short Man), 42, Nov 8; and Marvin Elias Caribou (Mojo), 37, June 21. A special Breakfast and a Movie #259 was hosted by us June 24 and dedicated in its entirety to the loving memory of Mojo. Our Mission Blog at wordpress.com gives a detailed account of that morning.

Our Social Media presence has yielded dividends on numerous fronts.

  1. 1)      It has raised the general awareness about our Mission tremendously. We show people with words and pictures what we do, and share our news. At present there are 635 followers of our Facebook posts. Over and above this, our page has been linked to several different Winnipeg community Facebook groups, and our postings get further readership by this means.
  2. 2)      A truthful and rather clever post in September by Rob Nykoluk likening our food storage cupboards to that of Old Mother Hubbard reached a staggering 2580 people; with astonishingly amazing results!! We have been able to publish our current wish list of food items whenever we have felt the need to, and many people who care have responded to the cause.
  3. 3)      We have been able to actively promote our two Food Depots: Transcona Salon & Spa, and Washeteria Laundromat who assist us so that people know where they can drop off food. The same is true of our clothing depot at TSEN.
  4. 4)      We are also able to publicize what other people have done to assist us in a Food Drive.
  5. 5)      Sometimes it snowballs! One individual or group will, of their own volition, issue a challenge to others in that group to participate as well. We have also seen this from within at our depots where patrons of that business will encourage other patrons to our cause.
  6. 6)      All of the above have contributed to the fact that our own necessary food purchases have been significantly reduced from previous years because of these increased food donations.

By year end, we reached the cusp (one outing to go) of reaching four full years of serving juice at every Thursday and Sunday outing. It is an uninterrupted streak of abundant juice for our Street Friends that we are very proud of. We are the only Mission that we know of that juice has always been present and available to our Patrons at all meals.At the end of 2017 our group came to the difficult decision to suspend our Pizza Mondays function that we have held on alternate Mondays at 5 pm exclusively inside Main Street Project. Since its inception on April 11, 2016, we have been happy to have hosted a total of 45 Pizza Mondays, but we have been without any form of sponsorship for it since October of 2016. It has been our single biggest operating expense. We entered into this decision so that Pizza Mondays will not negatively impact financially upon what we consider to be our core functions of our Thursday supper meals and Sunday Breakfast outings. Our last Pizza Monday was on December 18th.

As Communications Officer for this Mission, I often think of our service motto: “Providing Food, Friendship and Compassion to Winnipeg’s Homeless”.  I believe that this Mission succeeds with this simple mandate.  No, we are not going to solve the homelessness problems in Winnipeg.  But I think what we do MATTERS. At our best, we can try to supply our humble level of support on this simple level of emotional support food and understanding.  Cynics out there may exclaim ‘But this is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed.’  To them I would say: “Yes, but it is drops in buckets that fill buckets.”

Respectfully Submitted,

Bob Buchanan, Communications Officer

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Mojo-page0001Last Wednesday morning I read a brief blurb in the Winnipeg Free Press that a man was seriously assaulted and taken to hospital with serious head injuries.  Little did I know at the time that the victim was one of our Dear Street Friends, Mojo.  I made a mental note of the location of the incident, the 100 block of Martha and then filed it in the back of my mind.  I was in the middle of a heavy week.  The next day while I was serving on the street at our regular Thursday 5 pm supper outing, a few different people approached me that it was our Friend Mojo who had been assaulted outside the Love Lives Here trailer at 11:10 pm Monday night and that witnesses were able to direct police to the suspect who was arrested shortly afterwards.

The next morning I read that Mojo had in fact died from his injuries, and a chill fell over me.  Not again!!  There are too many deaths and people dying on our city streets and a lot of them are our Street Friends who don’t have as many life skills or as much of a support system as the rest of us.  Mojo had been dating Cherri (another of our Street Friends)  for about 6 months or so in 2016.  She died in January.  Well, at least they are together again now, with their creator…

I remember how I felt that Friday morning- thinking that living on the streets must feel like hell on earth at times; and I expressed this view to a few of my Mission Colleagues I was in contact with that morning.  It’s bad enough just simply SURVIVING on the street- finding shelter, getting enough food and nutrition, trying to look after one’s health, and trying to stay positive and stay straight, with minimal support systems- without having to worry about one’s actual safety from harm, too.

I’ve known Mojo for about 8 years, and always liked him.  I enjoyed it whenever he would come around, which was often.  I’d had many interactions and conversations with him over the years.  In my mind, he was always spirited, and like the runt of the litter! He could be scrappy at times; but he always treated me well; and I believe there was a mutual respect there.  I think we had earned that privilege  somewhat with him- coming out day after day, week after week, year after year; and he knew that nobody was paying us to be there.  Sometimes I would take a photo of some of our Patrons and then rename the file with their name when I got home in an effort to try to remember their names for the next time I would see them.  I didn’t have to do that with Mojo– he was THAT memorable a person.

I talked to him quite a bit in the weeks following Cherri’s death, and his feelings about that.  He struggled with his loss, but he was doing OK.  He was very resilient.  I think you HAVE to be, to live through the things he has and live the life he had, with the cards he had been dealt; and with some of the not very good life choices he made.

On Saturday morning I stopped off at Main Street Project on my way home from the Mission pickups I do every Saturday, to remind the staff that we were doing Breakfast and a Movie # 259, and that this one would be dedicated to Mojo.  I also talked to a few of our Patrons there to see if they could tell me some of Mojo’s favourite foods so I could be sure to serve them.

Breakfast and a Movie #259.  It was magnificent. We had a great crew- Lance, Manjit, Jill, Kevin, Eleanor, Harry and Edwin.  There were four posters (see above) around the room- one on the coffee Gatorade jug.  Once we got all the food, drink and supplies inside and set up and the serving crew were ready to go, I went outside to speak to everybody as I always do.

There were more people than normal waiting for me and to get in.  Had the word gotten out?!?  I had only mentioned our intentions on Saturday to 3 people!!!  I asked everybody to gather around; and then I told them that THIS Breakfast and a Movie was in Honour and in Memory of Mojo.  I spoke about LOSS a bit.  I then mentioned that I would be available to ANYONE who wanted to get some stuff off their chests and that, also, I hoped that they would be willing to do the same for me as I would find that helpful also.

To be sure that everybody understood the idea that the whole morning was dedicated to Mojo, I went through the entire menu and related every item on it to Mojo: buttered carrots because Mojo could be slippery (!!!), pizza which he loved, junk food for movie treats because he loved junk food; decadent and wickedly good cheesecake because he could be naughty (!!!), Eggs McBagels and Egg McMuffins with CHICKEN bacon because Mojo was NO CHICKEN-despite his size he would NEVER back down from a confrontation.  Real cheddar cheese on them because his sense of humour was really cheesy…. and so on.  Juice, coffee, baking- all stuff he would scarf down.

These moments seemed to set the stage for the entire morning.  Everybody was appreciative and happy and extremely well behaved.  We always get thank you’s every time; but never as many as this morning.  I checked with the serving crew to see if they would be OK with me spending most of the morning outside where most of the most cherished moments of camaraderie, banter, sharing and  touching moments and exchanges happen.  They understood and said yes.

The movie they voted for overwhelmingly was Hacksaw Ridge, which Mojo would have liked because it is an action flick and stuff blows up real good!  A conscientious objector goes to war without a gun and wins the Medal of Valor, saving 75 people’s lives.  A real hero.  It currently sits in imdb’s Top Movies of all Time at #160.

What I wished for to happen outside, HAPPENED, in spades.  Many people wanted to talk about Mojo, and I was able to get some stuff off my chest as well; and I found it helpful too for myself.  It went on for most of the morning.  I talked to one woman whom I will call Mary who identified herself as Mojo’s ex wife.  We chatted for at least 10 minutes about her time with Mojo, and also about the man she is with now.

Others who didn’t know Mojo that well or at all still came up and wanted to talk about their own lives and their struggles.  It seemed to me that the framing of Breakfast and a Movie this morning was fostering and encouraging these kind of connections. I made more than a few new friends that morning.

For the first time ever I received empirical feedback from Chris (the MSP staff person on duty) as to how many people we serve in a morning.  I have wondered about this many times but never really tried to count them.  He had one of those clicker counters in his hand and he counted every unique, different person who came in to be served.  His final tally was 180.  When you consider that the room capacity is 75 and with only about 20 seats, and that also we serve many of them 2 and 3 times- that is a lot of food for a lot of people.  Six hot roasters, hot garlic bread too, 4 large banana boxes of baking, one banana box of fruit, 18 gallons of coffee; 9 litres chocolate milk and 42 litres of juice, 200 sandwiches, movie treats and ‘take home’ treats at the end.

There have been 259 Breakfast and a Movie gigs to date and I have been at all of them.  All of them have been great- many of them have been spectacular, including this one.  But I don’t think that any of them have been more important, meaningful and significant for this Mission as this one was.  I have never felt more pumped about what we do and WHY WE DO IT.

As Communications Officer for this Mission, I often think of our service motto: “Providing Food, Friendship and Compassion to Winnipeg’s Homeless”.  I believe that this Mission succeeds with this simple mandate.  No, we are not going to solve the homelessness problems in Winnipeg.  But I think what we do MATTERS. At our best, we can try to supply our humble level of support on this simple level of emotional support food and understanding.  Cynics out there may exclaim ‘But this is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed.’  To them I would say: “Yes, but it is drops in buckets that fill buckets.” ~BB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Gifts of Grace Street Mission 2016 Annual Report

 2016 was another full and exciting year for us; and marked the fourth full year of operations for our Beloved Mission! Our core operations are to provide a Thursday hot supper meal (5 pm) and a Sunday Breakfast 52 weeks a year- 104 outings in total in 2016. For the Thursday outings there are 4 distinct serving crews of 8-12 people each. Sunday Breakfast and a Movie utilizes 4 separate and unique serving crews as well, with the St. Saviour’s crew participating on the 3rd Sunday of each month, year round. The crews are all robust and highly motivated. When the crew leads (Kim McIntrye-Leighton, Bonnie Scott, Kendra Jackson and Bob Buchanan) report back on their outings at monthly volunteer meetings, the following words get used frequently: great, fabulous, and ‘rocks!’.

Our Lead Story for the year (with 61 ‘likes’ on our Facebook page at it’s announcement there) was most certainly the launch of Pizza Mondays, a new initiative and major commitment by our Mission to up our services to the People We Love by providing hot pizza and drink to our Homeless Friends on alternating Mondays at 5 pm. We began this Program on April 11th to squeals of delight by our Patrons, to whom we did not really publicize in advance we were doing this, so it was a Great Surprise for them. Pizza Mondays happens exclusively inside Main Street Project. This is by design, as we identify MSP Shelter Patrons as the most needy with the least access to services in the city.   We bring and serve 18 large pizzas each time, two of which go to Main Street Project’s Bell Hotel residents located 1 block west on Main Street. We are grateful to Pizza Hotline for their assistance with sponsorship of the initiative until late in the year. We will be looking for new forms of sponsorship. We have hosted 19 Pizza Mondays through the end of 2016.

In support of the Thursday and Sunday outings, separate sandwich making/casserole making events happen, usually on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. Sandwiches are a constant staple to all of our meals. In 2016 our sandwich makers (a mostly separate volunteer pool from that of our servers) made 21,751 individually bagged sandwiches, mostly meat, in 26 sandwich making sessions involving 573 person-hours of labour. Of the 26 sandwich making sessions, 22 of them were scheduled sessions at St. Saviour’s and 4 were external sessions by students, clubs or other groups who asked if they could help out!   Our total sandwich production for the year was 2684 more sandwiches than we did in 2015. This increase was a deliberate effort by us after we decided that we should be giving out more sandwiches in the summer months when we are serving outside to a larger pool of Patrons. More specifically we upped our sandwiches on Thursdays from 150 to 250 once we moved outside. A closer look at the ‘production’ of sandwiches from our own sandwich makers in 2016 vs 2015 revealed the fun fact that our own sandwich production per person per hour actually declined from 41.12 sandwiches/hr. in 2015 to the lesser 39.17 sandwiches/hr. in 2016. Obviously we were having that much MORE fun in 2016 while we were ‘working’!! Notably, our Mission has not needed to advertise for sandwiches volunteers or food serving volunteers for 3 years now- we attract quality people solely by word-of-mouth. As of the end of 2016, St. Saviour’s Parish Hall has now hosted 104 sessions of sandwich-making in total thus far for our Mission work.

Our casserole makers made 165 casseroles in 2016. Four of these heated casseroles are served at each of our Thursday outings. The Casserole Crew, led by Bonnie Scott and often referred to as the ‘Transcona Crew’, is essentially the same crew who serve on the 2nd Thursday of the month. The crew now has over 4 years of experience in this food preparation. Over this time they have developed a solid repertoire of varied, tried and proven recipes, all of which are popular, nutritious meals of various rice, noodles, potatoes. beans and perogy dishes, involving meat, sauces and vegetables. For Breakfast and a Movie, all of the hot breakfast food is prepared in advance by Bob & Louise Buchanan.

Once again we were very pleased with the contributions by community youth in 2016. The Blessed Sacrament K-6 Sunday school students organized a ‘Socks of Love’ collection as a Catechism Valentine Project-they raised about 60 pairs of socks which were stuffed with toiletries. The Sunday School Youth at Transcona Memorial United Church made, collected and assembled a large quantity of Valentine’s Cards for our Homeless. The St. Boniface Brownie Pack organized 20 toiletries kits for us to distribute. Following a presentation on our Mission there by Rob Nykoluk, Harold Hatcher School Students from their Before and After Program made 106 Blessing Bags containing grooming products and various treats which were well received by our Street Friends.   The Youth at Blessed Sacrament Confirmation Class prepared Hope Bags to be given out to our Friends (the bags contained toiletries, toothpaste, socks, etcetera, along with personal handwritten notes). Forty of Sherwood School Grade 5 and 6’s made all 828 of our sandwiches at an exclusive 75 minute sandwich making session in June. École Regent Park Students made a total of 1019 sandwiches in 3 external sessions at their school, on March 8, April 11 and May 5, as well as collecting 250 pairs of socks for us. The Pathfinders came out for our sandwich session October 5 and helped us make 1175 sandwiches that night. Hooray for all our Youth!

Some Other Highlights:

We invested in some new capital equipment: a commercial can opener and a commercial griddle. We are here for the long term so we may as well have some good equipment!

Media Coverage: most of the work we do is under the radar, and we don’t feel any need to seek publicity; but occasionally we get a bit of coverage or recognition. In January, Main Street Project newsletter did a volunteer feature on Bob Buchanan. Then in their May newsletter, the Mission got another kind mention. The CN Pensioners Association of Manitoba did a nice feature on Rob Nykoluk’s volunteer work with our Mission. Our own Breakfast and a Movie volunteer Ashley Lochiavo graced the cover of the March issue of Rupert’s Land News.

On March 19, Edmund Laldin hosted a fundraising evening of gourmet Pakistani fare, attended by 110 people. The proceeds were in part to support our Mission.

On April 15 we achieved our 500th ‘Like’ of our Facebook Page. By year end we were at 570 ‘likes’. Our Social Media Coordinator Rob Nykoluk worked hard to expand our reach; and has extended our connection to three other large Facebook networks for Transcona, East Kildonan/Elmwood and North Kildonan. We have found social media an effective tool for highlighting information, stories and photos about our outings and our ‘wish list’- food/clothing/hygiene items we are in need of. We utilize 2 depots for food- Transcona Salon & Spa and Washeteria Laundromat; and 2 for clothes- TSEN on Regent and Blessed Sacrament. We are looking for a drop off location in North Kildonan as we need one there.

On May 3, Transcona Salon & Spa hosted a Ladies Night Out event where they held a 50/50 draw. The proceeds of this draw was earmarked for our Mission specifically for the purchase of Feminine Hygiene products. Also, Winkler Days Inn housekeeping crew collected the little shampoo, conditioning and body wash bottles which our Friend Liz Martin topped up- over 1800 bottles in 2016.

Our Third Annual Volunteer Appreciation night was held June 8. It was a very spirited and fun-filled evening with 80-90 volunteers in attendance. We enjoyed pizza, wine, soft drinks and other munchies. Our very own Campbell McIntyre provided musical entertainment and led us in sing-along. Joe Matula recited some humorous prose he had written. Kim McIntyre Leighton briefly and eloquently described the many aspects of our Beloved Mission and the various people in the room who cover them.

Our Fourth Annual Street BBQ for our Homeless Friends was held on August 18 and was our biggest outdoor outing of the summer- a huge success. It was a massive undertaking for us but the logistical challenges were once again no match for the exceptional organizational abilities of Kendra Jackson. Numerous volunteers participated. We served 600 hot dogs and buns with all condiments, potato chips, 300 ice cream cups (courtesy of Sargent Sundae), coleslaw, juice, pop, over 60 dozen cookies and other baking treats- all to in excess of 300 Patrons. Derksen Mechanical sponsored the event and Wolseley Mechanical provided the large BBQ and the men to operate it. We were graced once again with the presence of Al Sideen who volunteered his time to do posed caricatures of interested Patrons, which everyone was excited about. The event lasted over 2 hours.

October 5 marked our 100th Sandwich Making Session in the Parish Hall. Twenty volunteers were there to make 1175 sandwiches in 1 hour flat and to have special cake that was wonderfully decorated for our 100th by our very own professional, Kathy Allan.

At the end of 2016 we reached the cusp (two outings to go) of reaching three full years of serving juice at every Thursday and Sunday outing. It is an uninterrupted streak of abundant juice for our Street Friends that we are very proud of. We are the only Mission that we know of that juice has always been present and available to our Patrons at all meals.

We are thankful to everyone who has supported our efforts in 2016. We extend our thanks to those companies who have partnered with us on a substantial and ongoing basis for 2 years or longer: Cottage Bakery, Sobeys Meadows (Kildonan Green), Core-Mark International, Oma’s Bakery, two Shell Convenience stores, Movie Village and Sobeys Kildonan Crossing (Reenders).

Our lives are enriched by this work we do. Many of us who serve have been touched in some way by special moments and interactions with our Street Friends- a smile, a comment, a thanks, a touch or hug, witty banter, an opinion expressed, a story, advice asked and offered, a shared laugh, an expression of Faith and Hope… It is these Moments of Grace that keep us grounded and keep us all so rooted and invested in this Mission.

Our Mission letterhead contains two taglines, one of which is ‘Powered by Faith’. The projects by our Church Youth described above helps our young people understand in a tangible way how we are called as People of Faith to serve others. And so are we as Mission Volunteers. We are called to be the Church. As a group, we have enjoyed extraordinary internal harmony and teamwork since our inception. We all share a common Vision and Passion in our ‘work’ of providing Food, Friendship and Compassion for Winnipeg’s Homeless. I cannot imagine this kind of cohesion to this extent in our Mission work with so many moving parts, working both individually for the work in our own daily lives and together in the organization and execution of the Mission outings as teams—were it not for the inspiration of our Loving Creator working through us.

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Buchanan

Communications Officer

 

Another fabulous season of Breakfast and a Movie is almost complete! Each year we serve an extended Breakfast inside at Main Street Project on Sunday mornings during the colder months.  It works out to be 27 weeks in a row- from the last Sunday in October through the end of April.

We’ve had pretty big crowds this year, and we serve a LOT of food. Staff at MSP have told us the word about Breakfast and a Movie continues to spread and that the place is jumpin’ on Sunday mornings compared to other days of the week!! And why not?  We serve great food in a welcoming respectful environment with volunteers who care about what we do, who want to be there and WANT to give our Street Friends a good start to their day.  This makes us happy. That is our Reason to Be There.

For the first time ever, we had spare ribs.  They were a lovely donation by one of our Mission Partners- a single box from our freezers, to fill one of the 4 or 5 roasters that we bring each Sunday .  Louise and I had never prepared them ever before so it was a thrill for us that they turned out as good as they did.  At first, no one said anything to me about how they tasted, so I asked one of our Patrons who I knew would be honest with me…”were they OK?”.  The fellow immediately replied, looking me square in the eyes and said “No………..they were FANTASTIC”  with a big grin on his face, and then went on to greatly embellish his reply about how much he liked them.

I remember a conversation from about 3 years ago with another fellow who told me at the time rather sadly that he didn’t think he’d ever get the opportunity to eat steak and eggs ever again.  Well since then it has been a dream of mine to some day, somehow, serve up steak and eggs to everybody some Sunday morning.  Well, today we served ribs and eggs- not quite there yet but really thrilling all the same.

Our serving crew this morning were Taylor, Troy, Beata, Jared, Gareth, Harry and Edwin. These are all quality people whom we are proud to have to represent this Mission, which they do, in spades. With the exception of Troy (who’s pretty new)  all of the members of this crew have been working Breakfast and a Movie for a minimum of 2 years.  In fact, Gareth and Harry have been loyal to Breakfast & a Movie for about 5 years now if not longer.

Since the Breakfast and a Movie season is winding down, we wanted to have a movie that everybody wanted to see.  Our Friends at Movie Village provides us with free rentals of all but new releases.  Today we figured it was worth it to spring for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in stead of waiting another 6 months.  It is, arguably, the BEST $5.20 this Mission has ever spent.

Standing room only.  When I introduced the film I asked how many people had seen it already- only two!!!!  Everyone enjoyed it and lots of laughing at the humorous parts.  Hoots and hollers, cheers for the good guys. Nines and tens across the board. And, speaking frankly, I believe there WAS a Force or Spirit at work in the room this morning. ~BB

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                     2015 Annual Report

 2015 marked our third full year of operation for our beloved Mission. It was a year of continued growth and solidification in terms of numbers of active volunteers. As a group, we enjoyed internal harmony, cohesion and teamwork. We all share a common Vision and Passion in our ‘work’ of providing Food, Friendship and Compassion for Winnipeg’s Homeless.   In 2015, we fostered new community connections and partnerships with many other individuals and groups who endorse our mandate, as well as strengthening existing partnerships with numerous Friends and Supporters. Above all, we treasured our time and our relationships of dignity and respect with our many Street Friends; and have found that Love is indeed a Two Way Street!

Our core operations have been to provide a Thursday hot supper meal (5 pm) and a Sunday Breakfast 52 weeks a year- 105 outings in total in 2015. For the Thursday outings there are 4 distinct serving crews of 8-12 people each. Sunday Breakfast and a Movie utilizes 4 separate and unique serving crews as well, with the St. Saviour’s crew participating on the 3rd Sunday of each month, year round.

In support of these outings, separate sandwich making/casserole making events happen, usually on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. Sandwiches are a constant staple to all of our meals. In 2015 our sandwich makers (a separate volunteer pool from that of our servers) made 19,067 individually bagged sandwiches, mostly meat, in 22 sandwich making sessions involving 442 person-hours of labour. Our sandwiches gang made 38 more sandwiches than 2014’s total but used 46.25 FEWER person-hours of labour to do it! This efficiency is indicative of the spirit and resolve of the sandwiches gang we have observed, who work efficiently together while still having lots of fun. In fact, our Mission has not needed to advertise for sandwiches volunteers for 2 years now. As of the end of 2015, St. Saviour’s hall has hosted 82 sessions of sandwich-making altogether thus far for our Mission work.

Our casserole makers made 170 casseroles in 2015. Four of these heated casseroles are served at each of our Thursday outings. This same crew also provided and served 3 full meals of roasted chicken, 40 dozen perogies and veggies; and got a big thumbs up from our Patrons for our Easter Turkey dinner April 9th using 6 roasted turkeys, 82 boxes of Stove Top stuffing, cranberry sauce and Easter Chocolates.

We were very pleased with the contributions by community youth in 2015. In January a “Drive for Five” was initiated, the goal being to collect enough cans of tuna to make 5 tuna casseroles. Our young parishioner Corey Asbury practically single-handedly facilitated this goal, making a ‘Tuna Tower’ of collected tuna cans in the Parish hall. Later in the year Corey entertained our volunteers at the Appreciation event doing some stand-up jokes. We all discovered that our casseroles are not the only things that are sometimes corny… The Youth Group from Blessed Sacrament made “Hearts for the Homeless”- handmade Valentine’s Day cards, each one with a personal message and chocolate inside that were given to our Patrons and very well received by them. The Youth Group joined us again us at sandwich making April 22 and helped us make 860 meat sandwiches, 285 egg sandwiches, as well as 10 casseroles that night. In March, the 1st John de Graff Scouts Canada Troop visited us to help out with sandwich and casserole making. Hooray for all our Youth!

Our Mission expanded our use of Facebook in 2015; and we discovered that it can be a powerful tool to let others know what we are doing and what supplies we need. Our very own Rob Nykoluk has shown strong leadership in this regard particularly in terms of connecting other community Facebook groups to us. Our Posts reach a larger audience now, and we have consistently received good results whenever we have asked online for specific food items. We have used Facebook to publicize our drop-off points: Transcona Salon, #14-1783 Plessis for food, and TSEN, 1600 Regent for clothes. On Nov 8, our page achieved the 400 likes mark, and by year end the number of likes had climbed to over 450. Rob also developed an internal GOG volunteers-only Facebook page in 2015 for use as an alternative to email to communicate with other volunteers; which some members have utilized and found handy.

In October, Kim McIntyre-Leighton and other members of the Parish developed a document of Guidelines and Protocols for Communication in General and with Social Media in Particular- in an effort to ensure Positive messages and attitudes that are consistent and true to our Mandate and conform to the values encouraged by St. Saviour’s. This document was unanimously passed and adopted at our December meeting.

.Some Other Highlights:

In April, Morris area artist and muralist Sarah Collard honoured the spirit of our Mission work of serving food to the Homeless in her art piece “Soup’er Kitchen” which included detailed portraits of Bob and Louise Buchanan as two of the food servers in the scene.

Our Second Annual Volunteer Appreciation night was held May 27. It was a very spirited fun-filled evening with 81 volunteers in attendance. We enjoyed Pizza, wine, soft drinks and other munchies. Our very own Gareth Williams provided musical entertainment. We learned from Campbell McIntyre that night that the Diocese of Rupertsland plans to use our Mission as a role model for other Anglican Churches in the area of mission and outreach.

Our Third Annual Street BBQ for our Homeless Friends was held on August 20 and was a huge success. It was a massive undertaking for us but the logistical challenges were no match for the exceptional organizational abilities of Kendra Jackson. Twenty-eight volunteers worked the event, and several others were involved in the advance work. The extra volunteers who also attended without assigned duties were switched off with the other volunteers who had officially signed on with confirmed duties- to give everybody a chance to help. We served 528 hot dogs and buns with all condiments, potato chips, 350 ice cream cups, coleslaw, juice, pop, 40 dozen cookies and other baking treats. Derksen Plumbing and Heating sponsored the event and Wolseley Mechanical provided the large BBQ and the men to operate it. We were graced with the presence of Al Sideen who volunteered his time to do posed caricatures of interested Patrons, which everyone was excited about.

Sunday November 8th was Breakfast and a Movie #200- an incredible milestone for this Mission. There was a cake donated by Sobeys Kildonan and fabulously decorated for the occasion by our very own Kathy Allan. Our Patrons were just as excited about the morning and the milestone as we were.

December 10th we were very pleased to serve a fabulous Chicken Chef dinner to our Patrons which was completely provided by our Friend and Supporter Celine Petit in Lorette. The meal consisted of 300 pieces of fried chicken, 900 Meat Balls, and Potato Wedges and Coleslaw for 150 people. It was indeed a joyful meal.

The end of 2015 marked two full years of serving juice at every single outing. It is an uninterrupted streak of abundant juice for our Street Friends that we are very proud of. We are the only Mission that we know of that juice has always been present and available to our Patrons at all meals.

We are thankful to everyone who has supported our efforts in 2015. Our lives are enriched by the work we do. Many of us who serve have been touched in some way by special moments and interactions with our Street Friends- a smile, a comment, a thanks, a touch or hug, witty banter, an opinion expressed, a story, advice asked and offered, a shared laugh, an expression of Faith and Hope… It is these Moments of Grace that keep us grounded and keep us all so rooted and invested in this Mission.

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Buchanan

Communications Officer

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Today our Mission hit two milestones on the same day and we also need to take the time to acknowledge a third one which slipped by almost unnoticed.

  1. We mention the last one first. Late in October our Mission competed 3 full years of service of supper every Thursday, 52 weeks a year  Our Sunday breakfast outing had started earlier in July 2012  but it was always our intent to serve a supper meal year round as well- it just took a few extra months to organize as the two outings are organized and executed differently.  The Thursday outing is supported by separate sandwich making and casserole making events involving 2 dozen or more people.  There is a separate serving crew for each of the 4 Thursdays, each with its own lead individual who facilitates things for that particular crew.  All 4 of these crews are AWESOME.  So much so that in cases where there is a 5th Thursday, there is never a problem in assembling an ad hoc makeup crew,  We love what we do and are passionate about the WHY.

It’s a huge commitment to organize prepare and serve a good supper 52 weeks a year.  Many of these meals are better than the ones we make for ourselves at home!

2. Today we hit 400 likes on Facebook.  We are NOT pros at social media and much of what we do is  kept low key and under the radar.  Plus many of us are too busy doing the work to publicize it, draw attention to ourselves or flaunt our virtues or puff up our chests.  That is not who we are at all.  We like Facebook because it is useful in communicating with other like minded people who are attracted to this type of cause at the grass roots level- people who might not otherwise know what we do or see photos and images of our joy of the work we love for the People we Love.  We have found Social Media to be useful in touching other people that want to reach out to us to get involved in some way.  If we have a need for certain supplies, we can and have posted a wish list   It many ways, social media has been a useful tool in facilitating our work.

3. Breakfast and a Movie #200.  It was STELLAR- it just ended 2 hours ago..  The cake was a big hit.  For the first time all of our Patrons knew which number of Breakfast and a Movie it was before we even asked them  We made sure that everybody saw the cake right at the beginning.  It was a big deal for us; but it was also a bit deal for them!! We served French Toast with real maple syrup- a HUGE hit until it ran out and then switched to our regular fare of pancake syrup.  About 180 sandwiches, hot mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, and 2 hot roasters of Bob’s Egg McBagels made with ham and cheese slices this time.  The coffee was Folgers French vanilla.  We served Tropicana Orange juice and another beverage called Wacky Walermelon.  We had various fruit salads and lots of coleslaw. Six boxes of baking and cookies.  We served about 36 boxes of the Crunch & Munch caramel popcorn as movie treats; and then gave out tuna snack kits and Power Bars at the end.  The Movie was Mad Max: Fury Road which none of them had seen.  Nines and tens across the board!!  We had a great serving crew today: Manjit, Brittany, Harry, Edwin, Chantel and Riley.  Great fellowship today on BOTH SIDES of the counter. ~BB

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One of the most treasured things about our Mission is the people who fall into our lives because of it. Today, September 23rd, would have been Cora Kennedy’s 93rd Birthday if she was still with us.

Cora was one of the very best Friends that our Street Mission Work has ever had. I’m a little hazy now on the circumstances of how she first came into our lives. But she had heard about our work on the streets and one day I received an email from her about it. I think she had some clothes for us, maybe. Could we come and pick them up. So Louise and I went to her apartment. She lived in that big high rise apartment building on the corner of Donald and Stradbrook. That would be the first of many visits.

She loved hearing about the work of our Mission and about the people we served; and we loved sharing our stories with her. It just seemed like EVERYTHING we did and talked about with her just resonated perfectly with her and where she was in her own life’s journey. And ditto about Cora for us. We quickly grew to love her and care for her. In her own words, she was somebody in life who ‘gave a damn’.

Cora was a skilled quilter. Louise and Cora hit it off and became fast friends and Cora set out to teach her to sew; and got Louise her own sewing machine. We were going there to visit every week, purportedly for the sewing practice, but, truth be known, most of the time, the sewing machines never even came out. Cora often dealt with a Manitoba quilting store called KickAss Country which I got a big kick out of; and I would do this shtick for her as if I was a Country Music DJ for Kickass Country FM 109.3 that would have her in ‘stitches’. Cora was a JOY, and we would laugh our heads off when we were together.

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We told Cora about a challenge we faced in keeping the hot food hot while we transported it in the colder weather (this was in the early days). Cora had an idea to make an insulated holder for our aluminum casseroles which our hot food was in for the street. She bought an insulated cloth material that had a shiny reflective surface on one side which she made into the inside; and then McGyver’d up a cloth cover that you could zip and unzip with velcro she cobbled together. I thought it turned out great, and we started to use it. She made two of them, and we dubbed them Cora’s Casserole Cozies. Cora wasn’t happy with them though, she felt it was too flimsy (she was right) and it was on to Version 2.0.

Somewhere around this time, one day, we told her about what had happened to us the previous Sunday at Breakfast and a Movie- that one of the 4 food casseroles we had transported to the Red Road Lodge buckled in the middle from its own weight and spilled its entire contents onto the ground outside when we tried to carry it in.   Upon hearing this tragic waste of food, Cora threw up her hands in disgust and said ‘No More!’ and gave us the money to go out and buy sturdy stainless steel casseroles that we still have and use today. THEN, she designed Cora’s Casserole Cozies V 2.0 to fit them. They are fabulous and have lasted for years.

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Cora loved to hear any and all details about our work which we were happy to do. We told her about the Red Road Lodge where we were Hosting Breakfast and a Movie at the time, and of our love for that place and all the things that happen there. I spoke glowingly about Cora to others. I remember one day Bev Roberts, the Executive Director there came out with me to her apartment just to meet her.

Cora had struggled with cancer on and off and was too weak for outings, though she certainly was there in spirit and she really felt a part of the work vicariously through us. But one day she told me she wanted to see where we did Breakfast and a Movie. So an outing was arranged, and all the stars aligned for us that day!! Everyone wanted to meet Cora, and her visit was a triumph. What was supposed to be a half hour outing because of her limited stamina was extended to nearly two hours because she was having such a good time and didn’t want to leave just yet. Gordon Flett, a resident artist, got Cora to pose for a wonderful pencil portrait that was bang on. She was grinning ear to ear, and held that portrait next to her heart the whole drive back home. It was magnificent.

At the end, I was in the room when the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do. I had known for some time that she wanted no Memorial of any kind. So when she departed this world, there was nothing at all. No other loved ones to commiserate with, no overt way for commemorating her life or what she meant to us. No closure.

For me, this Blog Entry fixes that. ~BB