I find that it always helpful to reflect on the previous year and all that it held. Sometimes this is sobering, for instance the number of people who are on the waiting list for Toronto Community Housing increased yet again to a staggering number: 80,532. What is encouraging is how The Dale continues even when the issues are so difficult. I hope that by reading this report you have a deeper understanding of who we are, and that you too find it encouraging.
Take a Deep Breath
I have been out of sorts for a few days. The anniversary of the death of my dad, along with a variety of other challenging things has got me feeling more low than usual. I don’t like the feeling. I also don’t like the idea of pretending like it isn’t real. Life can be hard.
There was space today to go for a walk with The Dale team. We stepped out into the sunshine and began to walk toward Queen Street. Almost immediately we saw someone who we haven’t seen in a while. They were headed somewhere so we simply waved. Moments later we were greeted by a friend. I had something they needed tucked in my van, so we swung back to get it. He said it felt like Christmas and gave me a hug.
Outside the Dollarama we stopped to chat with someone. This person asked us how we were and noticed my hesitation to say “good”. He began to speak words of encouragement to all of us. At one point he looked directly at me and said, “I don’t know what’s up, but I want you to know you can expect good things coming your way.” Those words and all the others he shared caused me to well up. Near the end of our exchange, another community member tapped me on the shoulder with surprising and encouraging news of his own to share. As we walked away, I let out a long sigh and a few more tears.
Near the LCBO a person smiled and referred to us as “The Breakfast Club”. More aware of the bracingly cold wind, we decided to cross over to the sunny side of the street where we immediately saw more people. A woman I have known for years gave us her sweet smile with a quiet greeting. Eventually we stopped at Capital Espresso to say hello and ended up with gifted coffees and a meaningful chat. As we left, we were greeted by someone who defaults to calling all of us “Maria”. As we departed, he said the first few lines of the Lord’s Prayer, waved farewell and shouted “OPA”.
Now I’m back in our office, still sipping on the gifted coffee. Beside me is a container of Momo’s (Tibetan dumplings), handmade by a couple who we share space with. They had extra and all of us are going home with some. As I type I am trying to assess how I now feel. The hard stuff has not been erased. And yet it feels a little softer, as though tenderly held by the warmth, generosity and gratitude offered by such a variety of people. Joanna just sent a picture to the team that says, TAKE A DEEP BREATH THERE IS HOPE IN THE AIR. And so that is what I am doing. Taking a very deep breath of the hope in the air.