As we enter this new year at The Dale, I took some time reflecting upon 2021 and all that happened. And it was a lot! Some of it cool and exciting, while other parts are hard and heavy. From restrictions increasing and decreasing all over the place, to moving our church outdoors, then indoors, then back to outside. It’s been a rollercoaster, so I just thought I would share some of the moments that really stick out to me from 2021.
The Dale had the opportunity to partner with many awesome local businesses, churches, and organizations. Through our Dale Registry, donations that came in made it possible to feed our community while supporting local restaurants at the same time. It was a win-win situation and it was so special to be able to offer fresh delicious meals, from breakfast burritos to roti.
Another amazing partnership that stuck out to me this year is with The Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. Not only do they let us use their outdoor parkette to run our outreach, but they also helped us host 2 vaccine clinics! They have very kind-hearted staff there that treat the community with dignity and respect.
For Easter, it was a lot of fun to each grow our own tomb gardens to celebrate Lent, and read through an Easter devotional booklet that we put together. Though it was something to do at home and not together in person, it felt unifying to all be doing it at the same time and discussing it with each other on the phone or during lunch.
The hardest part of 2021 was the loss of friends known and loved by the community. It was a long year with a lot of grieving that could not be properly done in any sort of big gathering. In February, we set up a small table outside the Health Centre and gave out photos, roses, and care packages for those grieving to take home and remember their loved one. Still wanting a proper memorial, in December we were finally able to run an indoor memorial to honour, remember, and celebrate those who have died, from March 2020 to the present. A space in the church was arranged with photos around the walls, flowers, paper to write memories, and live music by a friend and his band we know from the community. Though it was a gathering of sorts, we weren’t able to have more than 25 people in the room at a time, so we arranged it to be a drop-in type of event; where people could visit, light a candle, hear some music, and then leave when they were ready. I’m so grateful for how it turned out, and for the chance to remember and celebrate the lives of the individuals I knew and lost.
A highlight from the year, was hanging out with the girls! Though working through covid hasn’t been easy, one silver lining is that as a staff we have had more time just the 4 of us together, with all the prep we did behind the scenes, in the kitchen, and in the office. I feel blessed to grow closer to these inspiring women and learn together as a team. This photo is from our super fun staff retreat on a farm with chickens probably right behind us.
For thanksgiving, friends from Christ Church St.James came and helped us prepare a delicious turkey dinner to be packed into so many to-go boxes for the community! It was a lot of fun to cook together and create something special.
A Dale Christmas Eve tradition- outreach with our families! So many familiar faces were out and about, and it was so nice to bring our families to join our very big Dale family to celebrate Christmas.
2021 still carried a similar heaviness as 2020, and I don’t want to ignore that there were hard times throughout the year. Even so, I still believe that God is faithful, and that He has blessed us with all the joys that I shared in this blog. It is my prayer that 2022 brings more of these joys as well as many reunions (with lots of hugs).