A letter from Wednesday Community Lunch volunteer, Barbara English
Winter 1999 – 2000. Toronto is in crisis. People experiencing homelessness on Yonge St, sleeping on grates. Surely the city would act. What could St .Clement’s do? The Wednesday Community Lunch was a small immediate answer. A simple, soup and sandwich lunch with coffee and cookies and a warm safe place to enjoy it. 2023 and Toronto is still in a crisis: housing, rising food costs and a health system reeling from a pandemic. The Wednesday Community Lunch is still an important part of St. Clement’s response. In a chaotic world it is a small beacon of hope.
A word from our guests: “I look forward to coming every Wednesday. I plan so I can come.” “That meal was the best!” “Compliments to the chef!” “Maybe a little too spicy.” “Not enough spice, but very good.” “I like the volunteers and the staff. They help me with the health system.” “I have a joke for you.” They notice if a volunteer is away and come to events like the Pancake Supper.
And from our volunteers: “The volunteers are a wonderful group.” “I’m a small part of fighting food insecurity.” “I love their spirit, their spunk, their sense of humour in spite of everything.” They know who takes sugar in their coffee and who can’t eat salad. They listen to storied about housing and health issues… and they notice that some guests eat their takeaway sandwich immediately, before their lunch. They are hungry.
The lunch is about community. We have given the guests the space and meal and they have created a community. Many arrive at 10:30 and stay until after 12 just sitting and talking. The volunteers have formed a community among themselves and a warm relationship with the guests. You are also part of this community. You fund this outreach committee program, through your offerings. You respond generously to appeals for socks or mittens or warm coats.
Thank you for this support. You enable St. Clement’s to share our home with people who enjoy your hospitality.