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.