It Takes a Village

Last summer one of my Dale friends looked at me quizzically and asked, “what happens to us if Dion’s health worsens and you need to take care of him?” I thought about it for a moment, not wanting to skirt the question, deny my role or belittle the obvious concern felt, finally responding with “we’ll deal with that if and when the time ever comes. The Dale is so much more than me and I’m confident we’ll get through things together”.

As I sat in the hospital with Dion this week, I thought of that conversation. I also remembered how a visitor to the Drop-In recently asked me what being the Director of The Dale has taught me about trust. The truth is that the last four years have felt like one big trust exercise. I have needed to trust that our vision was right, that giving up our “walls” would prove to be wise and not foolish, that we would have enough resources, that delegating responsibilities to a variety of community volunteers would work.

You know that trust building game where you have to fall back into the arms of your team? Well, the arms of The Dale team are strong. The kitchen is run by an amazing group of volunteers, coordinated by Souad. Souad has stuck with me/us through a lot. She calls me in to help sanitize a sink or taste the food, but rarely am I a cook. It isn’t uncommon for community members to show up before Joanna or me to get things started at the Thrift Store Drop-In. The breakfast on Wednesdays is entirely prepared by two very faithful core volunteers. I could go on.

In the autumn of 2012, Joanna Moon took a giant leap of faith to join me on staff. Since then I have gained a sister-like friend and work partner, one who showed up at the hospital, bought me chocolate, delivered cards filled with the well wishes, prayers and love from our beloved community, prayed with me AND staffed everything this week at The Dale. She did it without question and for that I am so, so grateful. I also don’t take for granted that it was hard work.

Not only did the regular crew carry on as usual, friends also sprang into action to offer additional support. Sanctuary sent some of their staff to help. I’d like to send a big shout-out to Kim, Sam, Beth, Simon and Greg for being present. And thank you to those who wanted to be around even if you couldn’t.

With Dion in the hospital and now at home slowly recovering, I’ve been witness to what I always knew would be the case: The Dale has carried on without me, while simultaneously being with me. I was back at the drop-in today, keenly aware of the truth that it really does take a village.

p.s. The number of family and friends who were also our village this week is large. I’ve focused here on The Dale, though I could write pages about the depth of support we have felt in all spheres of life.  My gratitude runs deep.