Opening Note: This is a story about a beginning – my beginning at the Dale to be exact. You may be thinking to yourself, “Hmm… this is a little late six months in, no?” Yes. It is a little late. However, I think it is a story that is still unfolding. I think about the beginning a lot… and more recently these days. It is also a vulnerable story to tell, which too explains the lateness. If you make it through one sentence, thank you. If you make it to the middle, thank you. If you read through to the end, thank you. Thanks for being apart of my beginning and for allowing me to tell my story. After all, what would a story be without anyone to hear it?
*it’s a long one this time around.
I used to work a lot. Well, it was a lot for me and it seemed like a lot at the time. It became a lot a couple of years ago. I was working at Sanctuary covering a maternity leave, and was there a few days a week for chunks of time. To fill out that time, I worked at a retail store that I had been at since I was in school. Often, I would open the store, work a couple hours, go to Sanctuary and work, and sometimes go back to the store to close. If there was a free day, I would also work at Gateway, a men’s shelter downtown, doing a shift of 12 hrs/day. I remember one time near Christmas working my day job, then doing an overnight shift, then the day job again, an overnight shift again, and… a day shift again. I slept maybe 5 hrs total during this time.
Anyways, I digress. All this to say that I worked. I think I worked a lot because it became part of me, part of my identity. I would miss family gatherings sometimes, not hang out with friends, turn down fun things. I kind of enjoyed being busy, and I felt I had to work so much to have some kind of self worth. What was I doing with my time if not working? Nothing of value. Who was I if I wasn’t working so much? A nobody. In the meantime, I racked up a lot of hours. I also racked up a lot of money. I was comfortable. Single. Living in a small, cheap, old apartment. It became routine.
Flash forward to December of last year. At this point I was no longer single. I had also just quit working at the store, a very important step in a series of many steps to come. They were my safety net, the people I saw more than family, the most stable income I had. But it was a rocky relationship and one that needed to end. I was also very aware that my time at Sanctuary was coming to an end in a few months. The only thing I would have was Gateway, and only when needed. Something needed to happen.
In January of this year, I went for a training session with Gateway that was going to be facilitated by Dion Oxford, my current boss’s (Erinn) husband. He is the founder of Gateway, and is still involved with the Salvation Army in many ways. It is funny how God sometimes lines up the people you need to see at the time you need to see them most. Once Dion and I reintroduced ourselves, he happened to mention that Erinn and Joanna were still looking for a third staff member and that I would be a great fit. Of course I knew they were looking for someone to join their team. They had been since the end of the last year, and had not found anyone that I knew of. However I also knew that they fundraised their own salaries which meant the income wouldn’t be stable for me for a long time. I got sidetracked during Dion’s training (sorry, Dion) and wondered how I could ever pull that off. How could I fundraise my own salary, ask people for support, be vulnerable and ask for help after working so hard? How could I leave the comfort of my stable pay for quite possibly nothing? How could I work a job that I like that would allow me to have weekends and free time and be myself and fill me in a way that my other work didn’t?
This next part still freaks me out to be honest, and you don’t have to believe it. I know it will be hard for some to hear. But I believe the Lord needed me to hear something in that moment and I heard a voice say to me, “I have always taken care of you and never left you alone. You have always been provided for. Why do you think now in this moment that I would forsake you.” I tried not to cry. That night I went home and talked to Ian for a long time about what had happened. I decided that I would email Erinn and ask if we could meet. Funnily enough, she got the email that night sitting at the dining room table just as Dion was telling her that he had seen me that very day.
That was the beginning of the rest. Erinn and I met and chatted, I met with the Dale’s board of directors, I received a job offer, and on April 18th I had my first day at the Dale. My life was starting to look a lot different. I still had no retail job, and my contract at Sanctuary had come to an end. I was in a committed relationship, was working 20hrs a week and trying to pull off a couple shifts a month at Gateway, and trying to wrap my head around asking people for help.
Things are hard sometimes, and I know they will continue to be hard. There are times that I sit and wonder long and hard if I did the right thing by joining life at the Dale. Things are changing at Gateway as they do, and I no longer get the same amount of shifts I used to. I still feel like a failure that I can sit and read a book instead of leaving my house in the morning to work and coming home to sleep. I still don’t know what hobbies are, I struggle sometimes to keep my head above the water of floating bills, and I am looking for more work to do on the side to fill the gaps.
However, I am also very privileged. I get to spend my days with my friends, and join in meals and conversations with people that teach me how to love deeper and look harder and be better. I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. I am in love with someone who loves me. I get to see Erinn and Joanna all the time and laugh and cry with a team of strong women. I have a family and we care about each other. I am blessed.
Friends, I am thankful that I can come to you and ask for help. I am grateful for your words of love and encouragement, for your prayers, and also for your financial gifts. I am encouraged by all of these things. The Dale would not function without the generosity of many people far and wide who share their resources of love, time, and money. We are fully supported by donors – the organization itself and those of us who work for it.
If you have supported me financially since I started at the Dale, thank you. If you think that is something you would like to and can do, I appreciate you. Here are the ways that you can give:
·Pre-Authorized Remittance. If you would like to support me in this way, please ask me for a form through email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
·CanadaHelps. Please indicate that the donation is for me.
·Cheque. These can be made out to The Dale Ministries, with my name in the Memo Line and mailed to: PO Box 94, Station C Toronto, ON M6K 3M7
One time donations are deeply appreciated, and monthly donations help to keep my income stable. If you are more of a prayers or good thoughts type of person, I welcome those with open mind and heart. If you would like to join us for a meal and spend time getting to know our community, we welcome you!
Thanks for letting me tell my story. Thanks for letting me ask for your help. Thanks for letting me be vulnerable. I appreciate you.
Peace be with you.