In March of 2020 all of our partner buildings closed, with the exception of one. As a community organization and church without our own walls, this required that we get creative about how to run our programming. Already comfortable outside, we took nearly everything to the street. We are very grateful to have been able to do this. And it is fair to say that we are eager to get back to being together as a community indoors too.
The journey to re-opening drop-ins has been a long and winding road. One of our first steps was at St. Francis Table, an outreach founded by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. They serve meals, restaurant style, for $1 and are a well-known destination for many members of our community. They agreed to share space with us for a bi-weekly Bible Study. Joanna and I arrive at 5:30 pm to eat, and then as a group we move to an adjacent room. The discussion is lively and peppered with questions and vulnerable thoughts about faith. Last week someone shared thanks in a closing prayer for our “delicious” conversation.
Even more recently, Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre offered us a room to host a weekly Art Drop-In. The whole Dale team heads over shortly after our Breakfast-to-Go. We set out a variety of materials for people to do self-directed work, including markers, pencil crayons, wool for knitting, paint, etc. The gathering has a remarkably peaceful feel to it. There is conversation, but also comfortable silence. Sometimes a person will offer to sing a song. We listen to music. Last week a first-time participant saw us outside after the drop-in closed and asked, “are [you] my people?” To which we said an emphatic yes. Her response? “And now I’m one of your people”!
The biggest hurdle for us has been finding an appropriate space for a larger-scale drop-in where we can eat together again. Just this week there has been movement in this area. While we don’t have anything to announce yet, we are excited to be in conversation with potential new partners. Your prayers and good thoughts are appreciated as we explore new opportunities.
Though we look forward to continually be able to resume indoor gatherings, we don’t intend to reduce our presence outside. We remain committed to walking and connecting with people on street corners and in parks- basically anywhere around the neighbourhood. It’s one of the best things to be able to see friend after friend as we walk along Queen Street West. It’s where we get to have even more delicious conversations with those who are now our people, as we are theirs.