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The Dale Lately

Here is a little photo collection of life at the Dale these days. The warm weather has brought so much joy and more opportunity to hang out with our community.

Being outside for Art Group! There is a beautiful outdoor space next to the room we have Art Group, and since it’s been so warm, we’ve moved out there.

We had our first Open Stage since 2020! It was a beautiful afternoon of art work and live music from the community!

The sunshine makes Wednesday outreach in the Parkette feel like a picnic with friends. It is so nice to take our time chatting and not rushing away from the cold.

The Dale has a plot in the Hope Community Garden and recently the strawberries that we planted last year popped!

It’s been a lot of fun working alongside our interns who are here all the way from Germany. They’ve really become a part of the community and we’re sad they’ll only be here for a little bit longer.

I continue to feel grateful for these people and the sun. I feel like recently most people have been in a much better mood because of the change of season. There’s an excitement in the air and I am trying not to take it for granted as we head into the summer.

My job with The Dale requires that I fundraise my entire salary! If you would like to support me in this work click here to donate online or reach out to me at Please prayerfully consider joining my team whether that be through support financially or through prayer! Thank you!

A Cozy Space

Before Covid, part of The Dale’s weekly schedule, was an Art and Breakfast program that happened inside the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. It was a time filled with pancakes, bacon, colouring, clay, beading, and acoustic guitar music. It was a great way to connect with the staff in the health centre, so that if anyone from our group wanted medical care they could easily get connected. Also, the opposite, someone might be able to discover us at the health centre while there for an appointment.

It was really sweet to start the day surrounded with community, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to go back since early 2020. 

Fast forward to now! Starting at the end of this February, we finally have had permission to be back inside! Since it is a medical centre, we have to be careful and therefore cannot cook and eat breakfast. Instead, we use the space for just an art-drop at the moment and continue to serve our breakfast in to-go bags outside the church in the morning. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect going back. I was surprised, the space felt so peaceful and refreshing. Some people chose to colour and while others knitted, all with quiet conversations and soft acoustic music playing in the background. 

I love that Thursdays have become a cozy space to chat if you want, but if you don’t then you are welcome to just do your own thing. It’s been sweet to meet new people and see how everyone’s creativity is so different. Not everyone has access to a peaceful space, so it’s cool to see the way each person in the room plays a role into making it so welcoming.

I continue to learn about peace and the beauty of being together through this community- and sometimes that just looks like colouring quietly. And now I really look forward to Thursdays!

Church Potluck

It has been a long time since we have eaten together as a community. Both our weekly lunch and breakfast meals have been in to-go bags since March 2020. Alas, there still have been little moments- picnics with a handful of people, birthday celebrations with individuals, dinners at St.Francis’ Table (an organization that serves food around tables in the neighbourhood). But otherwise, eating together hasn’t been able to happen with community like it used to. 

Before Covid, as a part of our regular routine, on the first Sunday of every month we would partake in a potluck after service. And now, after three years, we finally had the chance to bring back this special time! At the beginning of January, Erinn announced this news to the congregation and it was met with a response of cheer and excitement. A Sunday potluck involves inviting all to bring whatever they can, whether that be a pizza, homemade baked goods, a box of crackers, a chocolate bar, etc. 

I was not sure how this potluck would pan out. It’s been a long time since we’ve done this and there’s quite a few new people as well. But sure enough, the minute the service wrapped up, we all dove into the potluck just like before. It felt like no time had passed. Food from everyone was spread out across the table at the back and, in buffet fashion, people filled their plates along in a line. After getting a plateful, everyone stuck around chatting and enjoying an array of dishes. It was sweet to witness new people meeting our long time Dale friends and to see deeper connections being made. 

It’s exciting to move forward into new things for The Dale in addition to old things coming back! I’m looking forward to continuing once a month potlucks and enjoying meals together. 

Unified Prayer

“When one of us cries, we all cry, when one of us laughs, we all laugh,” said one of our core community members during his prayer on Sunday. He roughly quoted Romans 12:15 that reads, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” That prayer, and the prayers of others before and after him, reflected how much love we have for one another in the room. A newer friend who started coming to our Dale Sunday service at the beginning of 2022 (and rarely missed a Sunday since) shared with tears to the congregation how this year hasn’t started off well. After a moment of silence, people in the pews leaped into prayer without a moment to waste. 

Every Sunday service The Dale does prayer in a communal mannor, with an open room for sharing requests and all are welcome to pray aloud. This is something I’ve always appreciated since coming to The Dale because church truly feels like a space to come with all you are carrying- a space to give it to the Lord. This time it felt extra special to hear our friend share so honestly and to see community take action so quickly. It felt almost sacred, with God’s hand at work.

National Housing Day Rally

I have never been to a rally before. I’ve always seen them from afar and stood with the crowd in my heart but never with my presence. I’m not completely sure why not, I think it’s a mixture of not having the opportunity and a personal fear of disturbing peace. I’ll be honest I was a bit nervous when I heard about the rally coming up on November 22, but knew it was something I am passionate about and wanted to be a part of with my presence. 

On that surprisingly sunny Tuesday, The Dale team and I went down to David Crombie Park to participate in both the lunch and rally. Straight away we saw some friends we knew, both from other organizations and friends from our Parkdale community. Some sweet music was playing in the background while we ate, performed by a long time friend from Parkdale whose band plays at our (now) annual Spirits in the Sky memorial. The crowd grew as it came time to officially begin. 

The event opened with a beautiful indigenous ceremonial drumming and prayer. Then individuals came up one by one speaking on the injustice of housing and the demand for the city to take action on the lack of housing options needed. Some even shared personal stories about how difficult it has been. The crowd cheered on the speakers and raised their signs. I felt heavy hearing some of the facts as it reminded me of experiences at The Dale. The Dale team and some friends stood together as we listened and cheered. 

At the end of the day it felt important to gather like that as a community. It’s been frustrating and hard to witness the housing crisis in the city since joining The Dale. Both working in Parkdale and moving to the city myself, has opened my eyes to this injustice that only seems to be getting worse. Many at the rally pointed out the fact that this is a “life or death” situation, especially as winter comes and as the hotel shelter programs begin to close. I’m glad that there are so many that came out and were there to take action. This day made me grateful for this community, the way they support one other, and came out to show that. It was an honour to be a part of, not only to bring my presence but to stand with my community!

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Pictures from this season

In this new season, so much has been happening at The Dale, and I thought that would be best told through photos. This fall has contained many exciting things, like a staff retreat, a trip to the Island, an evening street walk, a thanksgiving meal, pumpkin carving, and so much more!

A beautiful peaceful view from our staff retreat.

The whole crew that came to our Toronto Island day trip!

On the ferry together!

Evening street outreach with our friends at The Meeting House Downtown Toronto.

Cooking and packaging 100 turkey dinners + 100 breakfast meals with our friends at Christ Church St. James!

SO yummy!

Weekly van outreach

Pumpkin carving drop-in!

This season has been so busy and we’re not even at the end of October yet! It is a blessing to think about the fullness of this month. It feels hopeful after the quiet of covid. I continue to feel grateful for this community in Parkdale and for you as a reader, for supporting my work at The Dale!

My job with The Dale requires that I fundraise my entire salary! If you would like to support me in my work click here to donate online or reach out to me at Please prayerfully consider joining my team whether that be through support financially or through prayer! Thank you!

Project Serve comes to The Dale

This summer, we had the privilege to start having volunteer teams visit The Dale from Project Serve once again. Project Serve is a really great organization that facilitates service trips for groups of youth. Their mission is to teach young people about the realities of poverty and injustice within their own city or abroad, and show them how to get involved through experiencing serving for themself. 

Before working at The Dale, I used to be a part of Project Serve and they are actually the reason I discovered The Dale! When I was in middle school, Jenn Mikelait (the director of Project Serve) was also my youth leader and invited all the junior highs on a weekend long Project Serve trip. That weekend trip really impacted my perspective on homelessness, poverty, and inner city ministry. After that, I continued to attend Project Serve trips every year as a student until eventually I started working there as an intern. Working at Project Serve played a big role in pulling me out of my comfort zone and taught me so much. Becoming a leader gave me the opportunity to share with youth all that I have been learning myself and it was so cool to witness them go on this journey of growth and faith. 

I am so grateful for Jenn Mikelait for changing my life in this way and mentoring me along the way. Still to this day she is an important mentor in my life and an inspiration to me of following in the path that the Lord is taking you on. 

Through Project Serve I was introduced to The Dale, for it was one of the organizations we would bring the teams of youth to. We took our teams to serve at many places every summer but I distinctly remember the first time we went to The Dale. It felt so different from the other places we served at, because when we got to The Dale, instead of serving we were served. Food was cooked for us and we were invited to sit and hang out. I witnessed community working together and with dignity, for everyone played a role in making this space possible. That experience really stuck with me. I knew one day I wanted to be more involved with The Dale, and now I am so grateful to be a part of it in the way that I am. 

Throughout this July and August we had a total of 4 teams come to The Dale! It was so neat to have a glimpse into the amazing work that Project Serve is still doing, and having the opportunity to see it from this new perspective. Something that was really exciting was that we were able to have my own church’s youth group come as well! It felt like many worlds collided that day. My youth group came and put together a bbq for our Dale community, and it was so sweet to sit around tables and spend time all together. 

It’s incredible to look back at where God has taken me and how He is always at work. I am so thankful that He put Jenn in my life so that Project Serve could be a big part of my story and both prepare me and introduce me to The Dale.

My job with The Dale requires that I fundraise my entire salary! If you would like to support me in my work click here to donate online or reach out to me at Please prayerfully consider joining my team whether that be through support financially or through prayer! Thank you!

The Line

Since the beginning of Covid, the safest way to serve our food has been in one. long. line. To-go bags with our weekly meals are handed out at the front to our community. As we patiently wait for doors to re-open so we can return to eating around a table with our community, this is how we do things in the meantime. The line has been hard. One of The Dale’s main values has always been to prioritize inviting the community to participate, that giving and receiving are mutually experienced. The line doesn’t exactly fit within this mission, but we do our best to still incorporate it throughout the week- whether that be having a community member hand out the food and help set up, receiving donations from our community, and working together to run our church service. 

All that to say, the line has been quite the experience over the past two years. The team and I have been doing our best to be present with our community while the line moves up, and you would be surprised at the amount of things that can take place, even in a setting like this. Some may be odd, but the team and I just call them “dale-ish”. Here is a bit of a glimpse into some of the things that happen:

  1. Chats and laughs

Of course, the obvious, spending time in line results in making connections with people. Though some chats are more brief than others, I’m grateful for even just knowing each other’s names and saying good morning. It’s really cool when I get into a deeper chat with someone and we walk the entire line together until they reach the front. 

  1. Dog Patting

There seems to be a handful of dog owners that show up with their dogs, which I guess is another perk to being outside. These dogs often bring joy to the dog lovers in line and lots of dog pats. As a staff we try to always have dog food cans on our shelf to grab if any ever need it because we have recognized how important these pets are to their owners. I myself love to pat all the dogs in line when invited to!

  1. Hair Cuts

Yes, you read that right. I am repeatedly surprised by the unique events that take place each week at The Dale, and recently that was a haircut. A friend mentioned to me that she cut her own hair and needed help evening out the back. It didn’t take long for me to fix but it was quite the sight as I stood in line (before it was moving) cutting hair. 

  1. Receiving Gifts

Almost every Monday during our lunch line there is one, very generous, lady who walks around handing out granola bars. She usually starts with the four of us staff and then walks around the line to people she knows. It is so kind how she prioritized giving to others and taking care of her friends. There are many other folks who also give gifts, each one very different. Sometimes clothes, candy, freshly picked flowers, magazines, a box of lemons, etc. I love this, because regardless of the line there is still room for a give and receive relationship. 

  1. Fights

Every Monday morning during our staff prayer time we almost always pray for peace in the line. I don’t blame anyone for feeling tension when being so close to one another, especially those who show up very early and as a result have been there for a long time. I know when I’m waiting in line somewhere, especially for food, I get cranky. Therefore, sometimes we become mediators between fights that break out. In general, I am impressed with how peaceful things can be compared to other spaces I’ve been in, and I’ve witnessed some impressive patience.

  1. Freezies and Hot Chocolate

On these hot summer days it is prime time to break out the freezies. I often love to be the one with the task of rolling the cooler down the line handing out freezies and seeing the joy on people’s faces. The same in the winter happens when we hand out hot chocolate to the line as they wait. It makes the wait a little bit nicer to have something to enjoy while waiting for lunch.

I feel grateful to still get to experience community through Covid, even in these unique ways. There never really is a dull moment and that’s what I love about The Dale.

A Lunch in Little Tibet

Being a part of the Dale and the Parkdale community has held so many new experiences for me. Yesterday that included a Tibetan celebration!

Within Parkdale is a neighborhood called Little Tibet which is home to the largest population of Tibetans outside of Asia. This is something that can be easily seen, when simply walking the streets it won’t be long until you come across some Tibetan restaurants, grocery stores, flags, and on Wednesday evenings- traditional dances. 

In the building we have currently been working out of, we have gotten to know a kind family who prepares and cooks Momos (a Tibetan dish) from scratch to sell at the market. These momos are so delicious! I know this because this family thoughtfully shares a generous platter of them to the staff at The Dale from time to time. 

Yesterday, it was such an honour to be invited by them to a celebration they were having outside. July 6th, 2022 marks the 87th birthday of the Dalai Lama, which is a very special day for the Tibetan community. All over Parkdale things were happening! Some places even gave out free momos. 

We gathered around outside with both other people from the building that we’ve met and new people that we got the chance to meet, even the MP of Parkdale/High Park, Bhutila Karpoche, was there. 

We were served butter tea, rice, and then got to eat some very full plates of delicious food. Speeches were shared and there were lots of tears going around, as they felt so much joy in being together and it radiated in the space. A friend of ours who also works in the same building was brought to tears as she explained to us the celebration in our context saying “Imagine this is like it’s Jesus’ birthday while he was still on earth.” It was interesting to be able to experience a belief and culture apart from my own, and it was cool how our friend was able to share in understanding despite those differences. 

New experiences like this come from such a unique, diverse, and intentional community which I am so grateful to continue to get to know. At The Dale we always talk about how it often feels like we receive more often than we give. This is still the case, especially on days like yesterday when I left with such a full heart!

Our Routine Nowadays

I realized it has been a while since I’ve shared an update about what The Dale’s routine has looked like lately. Small things have changed throughout the past few months as we ebb and flow with the weather and restrictions. 

We anticipate being inside for our meals, to sit around a table again, but as we wait for doors to open for us to do that, The Dale remains present on the streets and continues to be serving to-go meals outside. 

One of the biggest blessings is that church has been inside since the beginning of the year, and still is. Every Sunday we gather in pews and get to worship, pray, and hear from God’s word together. Before church, each week, we get our food delivery from Second Harvest. It has been so helpful throughout covid to receive over 100 pre-made frozen meals supplied by the city each week, that we use Monday morning. This Second Harvest delivery also generously brings along a variety of snacks and grocery items we can use throughout the week.

On Mondays we prepare our lunch to-go bags which often include things like a hot or frozen lunch, a water bottle, a baked good, a fruit or vegetable, and maybe a mask or some socks. Closer to 1pm, we set up outside with some tables and hand out the meals to a long line of people. My highlight during this time is when people step to the side after they get their food just to chat. Though we wish we didn’t have to serve food via a line, it’s great to see so many familiar faces each Monday. 

Tuesday is when we have our staff meeting. This gives us the space to check in, reflect over the week ahead, and plan what’s next! Tuesday is also a flexible day that can include variety of different things including grocery pick-up, outreach, fundraising, phone calls, visits, etc. 

Wednesday is our big prep day. We start by cooking up our bacon and egg sandwiches for Thursday morning’s breakfast. Then at some point in the morning, every other Wednesday, a large delivery of muffins and sandwiches arrives from Christ Church St. James- often called The Muffin Patrol! As a result, Wednesdays usually end up being a day full of individually wrapping all the numerous food items we make and receive to be served to the community safely. The breakfast for tomorrow is pieced together in paper bags with a juice box, a fruit, a snack, and any other treats we might have on hand.

Around 12:30pm we get to work loading up the van with outreach supplies and we’re off! We set up at the parkette outside the health centre in Parkdale. It is there that we unload our supplies and hang out with whoever comes our way. This has been such a great way to connect with our friends in the neighbourhood and meet new people. Recently it’s been a lot warmer and we’re seeing more and more people show up!

This past Wednesday we also added a bit of gardening to our day. There is our very own plot in the Hope Garden, run by Greenest City, for The Dale. We planted strawberries, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes to be able to use this summer! Routine garden check ins and watering will be a weekly part of our schedule for the rest of the summer now.

Thursday, the breakfasts that were prepared on Wednesday go out at 10am. Similar to Monday, this is a great opportunity to chat and connect with people. Since I have been recently working part-time hours, I’m often not there on Thursdays, which is sad. But our team does a lot of awesome work using the time after breakfast for things like outreach on foot, home visits, hospital visits, prayer downtown, and so much more.

Each week at The Dale can be so different from the next, but that is what I am grateful for. I am grateful for the opportunity to move and change with our community and have that freedom to participate in whatever is going on locally, without a rigid schedule.

The Dale is surrounded by so much support that makes each part of this “routine” possible. Community members come help serve the meals. Churches and local businesses donate food/necessities. Volunteers join on outreach. Right now we have two interns that help throughout the week. And, we are always so cared for by a larger network of people who who pray, donate, and send encouragement each in their own way.