I must say, working at an organization with no actual physical building has been one of the most interesting experiences of my life. We like to joke that the only “walls” we own are those surrounding our little PO Box at the Canada Post down the street. While there are many great things about having a building and a space to call your own (such as having your own office, knowing where things are and only having to walk down a hall to find them, having easy access to a bathroom, etc), there have actually been many more perks to being out in the open and “spilling onto the streets.”
There is a whole history behind why the Dale is now a nomadic church, however I will save that for another blog since it is an important story that deserves it’s own space. I will say however, that I have heard it was quite the experience being displaced from a building, having to get rid of much of what was owned, and spilling onto the streets and becoming nomadic. I would not know what it would be like to experience homelessness. But in the way the Dale became a nomadic organization, it was eye opening and relationally important for us to know what it was like to be evicted and out on the streets.
That being said, there are many…. funny things about not having our own space, as you may have heard me describe over the years. Having our food for community meals in various buildings, having to remember if it was coffee from this or that cupboard that needed replacing, carting meat around because it needs to be thawed in one building and consumed in another, knowing where washrooms are if we are having a drop-in outside, remembering to bring all 5 of our keys incase we need access to a certain place on a certain day… these are all the little things we have to endure by being housed in multiple rooms and locations.
We have met in coffee shops, back rooms squeezed between shelves, the backseat of Erinn’s van, alley ways, and other people’s offices/kitchens. We have cried in grocery store line-ups, prayed behind freezers, and caught up in pews at many churches. Our computers have been opened at Starbucks, pastor’s offices, and basement kitchens. Staff meetings can be any and everywhere there is a chair or spot on the floor to sit, bonus points for a coffee maker. We have had drop-in and church in parks, side rooms, and the backs of thrift stores. We have 2 fridges and a half, 1 freezer, many shelves, 2 cupboards, multiple buckets and baskets, and stuff being contained and paired down over and over by multiple hands. There are four staff, hundreds of community, too many volunteers to count, lots of tears, many outbursts, a lot of laughs in a single minute, and so many gracious people opening their doors, tables, chairs, floors, kitchens, basements. We are a group of mushy and banged up hearts.
We are blessed. Wednesday morning we usually meet at a church in Kensington to work on admin stuff. We sit in the kitchen that lives in the basement and work for hours sitting at a table facing each other. This morning we were moved upstairs due to use of the space, and were shown an office with three chairs and a table, plugs for the computers, water, coffee, generosity, and love. We were cared for, and this is just in one seemingly simple way. I am grateful that this is the norm for us. I also recognize that we are privileged. Many of our friends who are outside on the streets are not shown the same hospitality, are not invited in, are not shown care. And I hope that by care being extended to us, that we can then offer extended care to many who are looking for a seat at the table. We can all squish in, move over, pass a cup down, and share the love. We wouldn’t be surviving without it.
Did you know that I fundraise my own salary in order to be able to work at The Dale? I am currently working 16 hours a week, and continue to fundraise in order to raise my capacity for work at The Dale. If you would like to become a financial supporter of my ministry here, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can donate by PAR, cheque, or CanadaHelps and this can be done monthly or once!