On Monday we gathered outside as we do these days in a safe and masked fashion to serve meals to-go and connect with our friends as they wait in line 6ft apart. It was our first Monday back since we took our Christmas break. With the weather being cold and damp these days and the lockdown continuing, we weren’t sure how many folks we would see. However as it goes, the line stretched back far down the road and around the corner. We had some leftover goodies from Christmas, some donated Gatorade, and a meal to give in a clear bag, along with some new hats and hot chocolate as people waited in line.
A lot of time on a Monday, whatever we are able to put in a bag to give and hand out in line is only made possible because we have been given much. The meals come from Second Harvest and we get 100 of them to give. The snacks and goodies are a mix of Second Harvest donated snacks and items people buy for us that they know we need, such as the Gatorade. The hats, PPE, socks, hot chocolate – all bought with money we have been given or donated by churches who have made or purchased them for us. Even down to the plastic bags… we put out a call on social media one day when we were running low and received literally thousands of bags, some still coming in to this day.
In the past few weeks, our friends in community have reached out to us with requests. One for a DVD player and one for a TV. These folks either live alone or are feeling isolated in their place. For a lot of people right now, isolation is very difficult. When you don’t have the means to be able to FaceTime, zoom, or chat over video… days can feel long and lonely. TV and movies help ease that slightly, so when our friends reached out in need, Erinn put out a call for the items requested and was given what we needed within minutes. People shared the posts, prayed, kept eyes out, and gave what the had for someone they didn’t know. In some cases, we got multiples.
Last year with COVID causing lockdowns and stay home orders, a lot of people’s work lives shifted resulting in a financial shift. I think we all expected the year to be a little scarce in terms of being able to provide what we need for our community and meals. As you know, The Dale functions monetarily through people’s financial gifts. Instead of ending the year in scarcity, we actually ended with plenty – many winter items to give, money to buy things for the community and outreach, a new van for outreach, and much more.
I hope this doesn’t come across as bragging… I am no stranger to the grief that is present in many people right now. Sometimes it feels like the darkness is looming. However, we often start our days as a team in check in and prayer, and we feel so grateful for the provision from God and those He works through. We have been given so, so much. More than we ever thought possible. We pray daily that we would use what we have with wisdom and grace, that it would help reduce some of the weight our folks feel, that we could be the hands and feet of God in Parkdale, and that we would be good stewards of what we have.
As we were ending our time outside together on Monday, a man came up to us and thanked us abundantly for the meal, for being there continually, and for showing up. He said, “I hope COVID ends soon. We need to be together, not apart. This is hard…. but God knows.” He thanked us again and left, and I definitely did not have dry eyes. This has been a hard time. There are many aches in people which are presenting in a variety of ways. Gathering outside is so different for us and really hard some days in the cold and rain. But God knows. He sees us and He is blessing us. And because of that we can be present to our friends and community and continue to show up when it’s hard. The love and thanks we get back is totally not why we do any of this. We only do it for His glory. But when our hearts are touched I think it’s a little gift from God saying, “I know. Keep going.” Thank YOU all for being apart of that in many ways. We are blessed.
With peace this week…
I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org