Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

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!

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

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 livdower@gmail.com. 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 livdower@gmail.com. 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.

A Delayed Process

I recently received some really good news.

My husband, Grant, has finally received his Permanent Residence Status for Canada (PR)! This means that he can finally live in Canada in peace, with the right to live here, receive health care, work, and so much more.

This is a huge answer to prayer. Almost every time Grant and I prayed together, whether that be before bed or even before eating, we would always ask God for Grant’s PR. I can’t even count the number of friends and family members who have told me that they are praying for Grant’s PR to come. Though it took a lot of patience, God answered that prayer this month!

The average wait time when receiving Permanent Residency in Canada, pre-pandemic, was 6 months. Grant and I waited eagerly as 6 months went by, then 12 months, and finally now, after 18 months we got the good news. Altogether it’s been a year and a half of waiting and confusion. The biggest challenge we experienced in waiting for this PR was the fact that Grant was not allowed to cross the border into the US until he had it. He no longer was allowed to see all of his friends and family, in the country he knew as home. This definitely brought, to both of us, a new awareness to the struggle that so many have to go through when moving from their home country.

During the 18 months of waiting, three major things took place, contributing to the delay. The first as I mentioned was the pandemic. Worldwide, hundreds of couples, families, and close friends also went through separation through the closing of borders and airlines. The second was when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021. In Canada, our leaders made it a top priority to focus on the paperwork for those fleeing from Afghanistan and seeking refuge in Canada. The third was the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine. For many reasons this delayed the PR process, and again this included giving priority to the paperwork of Ukrainian refugees.

Though Grant and I were desperate to get his papers, these major world events brought to our attention the reality of what many are facing today. Currently there is an estimate of 1.8 million people waiting for permanent residency and citizenship. Because of our situation, I’ve read countless articles and stories of so many families longing to be together again. Some families have been waiting years for their status and cannot even go home if they get rejected. Though it’s been hard to wait, I’m grateful that our leaders chose to prioritize refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Grant and I have been safe here in Canada and we were able to get by financially while we waited. There is a lot of difficulty and disorder in our immigration system that for the first time I witnessed first hand.

My heart goes out to those missing birthdays, weddings, holidays, and funerals for the ones they love. Almost everyone in the world experienced this type of separation in the lockdowns from the pandemic, but as covid restrictions subside in Canada, many immigrants still have to wait an indefinite amount of time for their reunion to come.

I am beyond excited to see Grant finally reunite with family and friends. It will be great to see the joy he feels to be back somewhere familiar and have the freedom to come back anytime. Though it was hard at times when the answer to our prayers was to wait, God taught us both a lot about leaning on His will, even when it didn’t always make sense to us.

Grant holding his finished application ready to submit it back in 2020!

My Mask-iversary

This week, 2 years ago, I wore a mask in public for the first time.

My birthday (march 15) was my last normal day of life. My parents and I were in Florida visiting Grant (my fiance at the time) and his family. We celebrated my birthday going to a buffet, of all places, and I recall talking around the table about how “maybe” we should sanitize and how “maybe” it was a risk to be sharing tongs with strangers in the buffet. But, I had no idea the risk it was leaving the house in general. On our way to the airport to Toronto, Grant’s mom thoughtfully gave my family some masks for the plane ride, but I remember feeling embarrassed wearing it because no one else was. Little did I know, that would be the first mask of 100s to come.

When I got home I was required by the new regulation to quarantine for 2 weeks before going back to work at The Dale. I thought maybe that was a bit over cautious until I saw the news on screens in the airport showing the panic of this fast spreading virus. There was tension in the baggage area as everyone tried to get the heck out of there.

As I reflect about these early days of Covid, I can’t believe it’s been two years. I remember my whole family being home, gathering in the living room with nowhere to be. I remember being careful to not use too much toilet paper. I remember hugging Grant goodbye in Florida and saying “I hope I see you again” (at the time more as a joke). I remember going on long walks with my friend Cat, standing 6ft apart as we walked. I remember the anxiety of going back to work and not knowing who could have it. 

When I went back to The Dale, everything was different. We were no longer running indoor drop-ins, we weren’t allowed to use our usual locations all over the neighbourhood, and I had to stand far away from everyone including my co-workers. The team had the weekly schedule nailed down by the time I got there- the outdoor to-go meals and outreach I talk a lot about in my blogs. 

The moment I first got back to The Dale is such a clear memory in my head. I entered the church slowly, full of fear after being stuck at home watching the news so much. I felt like I couldn’t touch anything at all without sanitizing after- the hand railing, the light switch, my phone, everything felt like a risk. It amazes me looking back at how my outlook and fear of covid has ebbed and flowed with the regulations and the fatigue, you might share the same experience with that. I felt torn between wanting to protect our friends in the community by staying away but also wanting to have a fearless love through being close to people, wanting to embrace everyone because of how hard things were. Those already marginalized now had to deal with being unwelcomed into buildings and distanced from others on top of that. The days felt so heavy.

And now here we are. Two years later and masks are almost no longer be required. I am excited, afraid, and tired. I know I’ll still wear one most places for a while, especially at The Dale, but I can’t wait to see people’s faces again. It’s exciting to talk about what The Dale could look like in a few months. Though difficult, we learned a lot about how strong our friends at The Dale are and witnessed, in action, the power of community. 

Peace is a word use a lot at The Dale. Even during the fear and grief of the pandemic, at times I felt an indescribable peace that I knew could only come from the Lord. Even when it felt hopeless, God was there, and continues to be. These are the truths I will carry with me into the rest of this year and throughout the unknowns of so many changes ahead.

A Quiet February

There’s something about standing outside at night after a fresh snowfall. Even now that I moved closer to the city, when my crunching steps come to a stand still, it’s extra quiet outside. I heard there is a scientific reason for this, that the snow on the ground absorbs a portion of the sound. On nights like these, I feel a mix of both calm and melancholy, the stillness is somber. I find that by this time of the year the weight of winter gets really heavy, and I yearn for the spring to break the stagnant quiet of each day. I know many can relate. 

I think a lot about how a bear hibernates in the winter and I’m jealous. That’s probably why I have been taking a nap almost everyday since the new year. 

There’s a quiet corner on Queen Street, where a friend of ours used to sit. We said a sad goodbye to him on Jan 26, unprepared and shocked by the news. His name was Ronnie, and he was a good friend to so many. He made us smile and laugh everytime we chatted with him. 

I remember first meeting Ronnie; it was back before Covid. One Monday he rolled into the church on his scooter and looked at me confused, until Erinn introduced us to each other. I was still new and was never sure if people would like me or not be happy I was there. But Ronnie’s unsure face turned into a smile quickly, and he began to chat up a storm, with lots of stories. He became someone in the room that I knew and felt comfortable to go talk to as a new person. Since Covid we would run into Ronnie weekly on our outreach walks or pretty much anytime I was wandering around Parkdale. 

Today on our outreach walk it didn’t feel the same without seeing Ronnie on his block or with his friends. In fact, we didn’t see too many people out and that just seems to be the reality of winter. Feels like everyone is dealing with hard things and there’s been a lot of loss. It’s difficult to not get caught up in the weight of it. Especially when the contrast from the summer is astounding, a time when so many people are out and there’s this energy in the air. I look forward to being with people outside without shivering, community events happening, people sitting in the park, and sunny evenings without the rush to go home. 

I thank God that I got to meet Ronnie. He had a lot of love for others and made sure they knew it. Today felt extra quiet. I missed his usual big presence in the neighborhood.

For now, I can only do what I’ve been taught by our friends at The Dale, and that is to carry on. I’ve heard so many stories from our friends at The Dale, things I can’t even imagine how they got through. But they’re still here and the way they carry on and bring joy to others, is inspiring to me.