November 15th, otherwise known as Fundraiser day, was a blur of activity. Every once in a while I told myself (or Joanna reminded me) to slow down and take a look around the room, fulling ingesting what was happening.
I saw children: some just walking, some toddlers, some school aged dancing with the kind of abandon I wish we retained as adults. I saw my friend James, an artist and core member of the Dale selling cards adorned with his art so that he could give us a “cut” of the profits. Another friend, Norma was selling jewellery for the same reason. I saw people bobbing for apples, playing cards, throwing sponges at a target with a brave volunteer’s face as the bull’s-eye and tossing ping-pong balls into jars. I saw people dressing up at the photo booth and getting their faces painted. I saw a table of beautiful pies for auction, some made by friends, others made by Wanda’s Pie in the Sky- a little shop in Kensington Market. I saw people enjoying bowls of chill and pieces of cornbread, those who eat with us on Mondays in the Drop-In and those who don’t. I saw people square dancing. I saw people reading about where the donations we receive actually go. I saw The Lovelocks take the stage. I saw so many different people doing whatever it took to make sure the event went smoothly.
As is true with any event, we will need to determine what worked and what we might do differently in the future. The time for that is coming. In the meantime, I want to celebrate all that was good. I have not forgotten that just a couple of years ago The Dale (then PNC) almost closed. We have been through a lot and come a long way. What kept bringing tears to my eyes throughout the 15th was the variety of people present and how you couldn’t tell who was who: The Dale community, Board members, supporters, volunteers, neighbours, friends and family. It has been this kind of cohesion, this kind of coming together that has brought The Dale to the present day. I do not take this for granted. Now I want to slow down, take a look around and imagine what’s next.
On Saturday The Dale is hosting a big event that we’ve dubbed our Fun Fair Fundraiser. A lot of planning has gone into this. Like, A LOT. Most of it done by a team of people, namely Ben and Gen (I just realized their names rhyme). They have brainstormed, made lists, produced written material, found donations, the list goes on. I’ve never experienced having a duo like them do so much for an event like this.
Hannah is a woman bringing her food prowess to the kitchen so that people can purchase something savoury or sweet. It’s a big job and she’s taken it on. This, after just completing a large event last weekend. Megarrah is producing banners for each game stall. The Lovelocks are coming, despite a busy day for them. John and Tom are doing the sound. The square dance caller is booked. Sean is willing to sell drinks. Melody and Michelle are making pie. Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, a shop in Kensington Market is rounding out the pie auction.
Our core community is rocking it too. Our regular kitchen team is showing up early Saturday to help Hannah. Terry, a former professional sign maker is busy at work for us. Tim designed the invitation. James wants to sell his art so that he can be a part of keeping this place going. I can’t tell you how many people have said, “I’ll do whatever you need me to”. Our Board of Directors will be face painting, taking pictures, setting up bales of hay and doing whatever else they can to help.
Joanna is doing such a variety of things for Saturday that I don’t know where to start. I have no idea what I’d do without her. I couldn’t do any of this without Dion and Cate, who are present, helpful and so encouraging about The Dale in general and about this event specifically. Cate is assisting me in making props for the photo booth and is sure that if we have enough moustaches on sticks everything will be well.
Each time I see that a friend has shared the invitation or hear that someone is sending a donation or discover that someone is able to come I am thankful. The Dale works because of what I’ve described above: it is a community of people, both at its core and more broadly that fully participates. It’s during a week like this one that I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude at that reality.