After we suspended the St Jude’s Grocery Program on March 14th, our food provider, Food For Life, stepped up and offered to deliver the food to “our” clients directly. We provided them with a list of our clients’ addresses, alternates, and food restrictions.
For five weeks now, Food For Life have been sorting and pre-packaging generic bags of food and delivering them to our 30 families in the Maurice Drive/Margaret Drive communities. During that time four new client families have been added to the program.
We also have three other clients whose deliveries are being covered by St Jude’s volunteers.
2019 Annual Report to Vestry By Justice and Servant Ministries
Following a recommendation of the Rector and supported by Parish Council, Justice and Servant Ministries adopted a mandate focusing on food ministry in 2010:
“To mobilize the resources and engage the members of the Parish, focusing these on the problem of hunger/malnutrition amongst families and individuals in Oakville and in Itabo, Cuba, (where we have a partner church, St. Mary the Virgin), and working in partnership with a few selected community agencies.”
The J&SM Team has developed and implemented a number of programs, working in collaboration with several community agencies and with the Regional Municipality of Halton. The Team’s recommendations for grants to food partners have been approved by the Corporation on an annual basis. The Team’s continuing role includes recruiting volunteers, designating leadership, problem-solving and working closely with food partners. The J&SM Team communicates regular updates to the congregation. The scope of programs and the volume of activity are described further in the report.
Development of a Social Justice Mandate
Although the J&SM name implies a mandate with two components, the current programs fall into the servant ministry category. In 2019, J&SM decided to explore a range of social justice issues, as a starting point for defining a social justice mandate for St. Jude’s. Deirdre Pike, Social Justice and Outreach Program Consultant for the Diocese of Niagara, assisted us. In a June survey, parishioners were asked to list issues of importance to them. The four top issues mentioned were: 1) the climate crisis, 2) income inequality/poverty, 3) peace and 4) truth and reconciliation/indigenous issues. 20 respondents (out of 30) stated that it would be helpful for St. Jude’s to choose a social justice issue to work on. Four respondents demurred.
The survey was followed by a workshop on social justice in October, and 15 interested parishioners participated. A special guest, Rev. Mervyn Russell, addressed the question, why should Christians be advocates for justice? He stated in part,
“Christian individuals and Christian communities have been created by God to be witnesses to God’s loving righteousness, that is God’s committed, creative, liberating, uniting purpose about the well-being of the world. Jesus lived, died and was raised again to witness to the everlasting truth and endurance of that divine, righteous love. To follow him, we are required to be just and to promote justice for others and ourselves.”
Three top priorities emerged: 1) climate crisis, 2) housing/homelessness and 3) income inequality/poverty. For the climate crisis, workshop participants suggested that we develop a plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the church and of the congregation. Tony Houghton and Chris Punnett agreed to work on a plan, beginning with contacting two environmental agencies in Halton Region.
Monday Night “Family” Dinners at Kerr Street Mission
Coordinators: Carol Lowes, along with Ann Mulvale
Monday nights are family night at KSM, and St. Jude’s provided a family dinner each month, excepting July and August. The number of people attending each month ranged between 65 and 80 guests. A team of approximately 20 volunteers rotates monthly to cook and serve. The Monday night team prepares enough food to serve 90 guests. If we have fewer guests, then we will give a second helping or provide food in containers to take home. We provide a nutritious meal: meatloaf and chicken casseroles, salad, roasted vegetables, plain rice and strawberries and ice cream for dessert. We continue to buy halal beef and chicken, which has been greatly appreciated by many of our guests. The upgraded kitchen facilities at KSM have worked well and our volunteers have enjoyed the camaraderie while working together.
Thursday Night “Adult” Dinners at Kerr Street Mission
Coordinator: Catherine Farrell
There was a hiatus between February and September, while a new coordinator, Catherine Farrell, was recruited and oriented to her new duties. This meant that only four of nine scheduled dinners were provided in 2019.
Nevertheless, St. Jude’s Thursday Adult night dinners at Kerr Street remained very popular, with six to eight volunteers preparing and cooking a full three-course dinner, plus appetizer, from scratch, using fresh ingredients. Dessert, which usually consists of ice cream with a topping, is also provided. A second team of about 12-15 volunteers arrives around 5:30 pm and looks after setting up the hall, serving the dinner and clearing up after the guests have departed. Guest numbers range between 70-85, largely as a result of the improving employment situation over the past two years. We are continuing to recruit volunteers, both from the congregation and externally, for the prep and serving teams.
Kerr Street Mission is not a “Soup Kitchen” and our primary aim at the Adult Dinners is not only to supply the meal, but to bring to the evening a sense of self-worth and dignity for the guests. We do this by presenting the meal in a “Restaurant” setting, (called The Eagle’s Flight Café). Initial greeting in the assembly area, coloured table cloths, flowers, individual menus and chatting to customers are all part of this experience. We serve a three-course meal designed with a focus on good nutrition. The menus vary, depending on grocery store specials, and while food costs have risen this year, we have still been able to provide the dinners at a cost of approximately $4.00 per guest.
Wednesday Food For Life Outreach Program
Interim Coordinator: George Duross
From a roster of about 30 volunteers, a monthly schedule is drawn up. Each Wednesday, between 15 and 20 volunteers meet in Victoria Hall to sort, bag and deliver food to 30-35 families living in the Margaret/Maurice Drive housing complex and to clients in our Neighbour Care Network Program. The Wednesday morning Men’s Group sets up the tables beforehand.
Most of the food comes from Food for Life, which delivered 32,200 pounds in the 12 months ending September, 2019. 88% of this total was in the fresh, nutritious and perishable category (dairy, produce and meat). Other sources include Halton Fresh Food Boxes, delivered monthly, as well as our own Garden plot in the Summer and Fall.
From the March 2019 Hungercount, an annual survey conducted by Food For Life, 155 individuals were served – 77 adults, 44 children and 34 youth. 35% are single parents, 32% are employed, 32% receive income from a disability-related benefit and 12% are seniors.
Now in its ninth year, this program continues to support our ministry of feeding the less fortunate in our community.
Summer Weekly Barbecue at Margaret/Maurice Drive
Coordinator: Blair Richardson
For the seventh summer in a row, volunteers from St. Jude’s provided a weekly BBQ in July and August to the families residing in the Margaret/Maurice Drive complex. The purpose of the program is to
Promote socialization and community engagement amongst all residents at the HCHC housing complex;
Promote socialization between residents and church volunteers;
Provide different crafts, arts and other activities for kids and teens; and
Provide fresh-grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, beverages and other food items to residents
Each week, a team of 10 from a roster of 40 volunteers buys, prepares and cooks the hot dogs, chicken, veggie and beef hamburgers with all the trimmings, about 300 servings, under the leadership of a Team Captain. Our partner, Frontline Outreach, provides the BBQ‘s, tables and equipment and delivers the refrigerated meat portion of the BBQ. This year, no BBQ’s were cancelled due to thunderstorms!
The gazebo near the BBQ location, which has lots of shaded picnic table seating, enabled residents to sit comfortably and converse as they ate their hot dogs and hamburgers. This year, Elinor Farrell, Director of Family Programs, kindly took responsibility for both activities for children and youth and for teen volunteer recruiting from among resident families to help with the BBQ’s. This worked very successfully. The kids who volunteered earned 40 hours towards their high school requirements. On average, 25 children and youth attended the BBQ’s and participated in activities. These activities were provided by the Oakville YMCA, Oakville Galleries, ArtHouse, Halton Food, Nando’s restaurant, and Rolling Horse Bike Clinic (Forestview Church). The clinic featured free repairs and tune-ups for bicycles. This was popular! Elinor also arranged for music, a great asset to the BBQ’s, since it made the atmosphere more convivial.
Lyon’s Lane Vegetable Garden Plot
Program Coordinator: Michael Nightingale
The vegetable garden, now affectionately known as “The Veggie Patch”, started in 2012 with a single plot in the Lyon’s Lane municipal garden. The aim was to produce fresh vegetables for the weekly Food For Life outreach program in which St. Jude’s already participated. It soon became clear that it was not possible to produce enough vegetables to make a significant contribution to the weekly program. Our first plot location was a remote corner with tall trees on two sides – pleasant shade for sweating gardeners, but a real handicap for plant growth! The answer was to take produce as it was harvested to Kerr Street Mission; they were pleased to take any amounts, given the need for healthy fresh produce!
In 2013, the Town of Oakville gave us a new plot in full sunlight, which became really productive, and then they gave us a second plot, too. Three volunteers, Mike Lanning, Austin Hazlett and Michael Nightingale, work the two plots together, one morning a week. In spite of a long waiting list at the Town, we have been given a third plot for 2020. The three of us will be very busy; new volunteers will be most welcome and no experience is needed!
Five years ago, the total harvest was 150 lbs., including leeks, chard, beets, beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. With each year, we learn which varieties produce well. For example, we no longer grow beets, because once they reach a certain size, the voles eat them. However, by 2018, we harvested 571 lbs., and with the generous contributions from fellow gardeners at Lyon’s Lane, 132 more pounds were collected. In 2019, the total harvest was 651 lbs. These amounts fluctuate from year to year due to weather, wildlife – deer, voles, rabbits and squirrels – and variety selection. We are not heavy users of soil and plant additives, although we do fertilize with discarded organic material from the mushroom farms and some sheep manure. We do listen and compare notes with other gardeners and then we pass on encouragement to the plants themselves.
Finally, there is a pleasant social side, not only between we three, but also with the other gardeners. We would really appreciate some extra help, so here is an opportunity for anyone who has an interest in gardening – no experience needed! – likes a bit of exercise, and likes to see things grow.
Neighbour Care Network, formerly Restore Method of Care Program
Coordinator: Blair Richardson
NCN was designed by Kerr Street Mission as a new program to replace Restore, by building on its strengths and making some improvements to better fit the Halton environment. NCN is a shared initiative of local church compassion ministries, which is organized, managed and supported by staff at KSM. The goal of NCN is to come alongside individuals and families in distress; to help them identify and access appropriate community support agencies; and to help them get to a more independent, healthy and sustainable situation. KSM staff do client intake, then ask a partner church to assign a care support volunteer to the new client, as part of the plan of action developed with the client.
In 2019, St. Jude’s did not take on any new clients. However, we reviewed NCN policies and asked for some changes that we felt were necessary. As a result, J&SM recommended that the Corporation at St. Jude’s sign the Letter of Agreement with KSM and formally become a church partner.
St. Simon’s and St. Jude’s Pantry Program
Coordinator: Sharon Richardson
The Pantry Program Team of volunteers produced approximately 120 meals (usually in 60 two-serving meal containers) on each of nine occasions in 2019. These meals are intended for persons who are homeless, or homebound or unable to cook for themselves. The meals were made at St. Simon’s Church, taken to Boffo’s Butchery and Delicatessen for freezing and temporary storage and then delivered to community agencies and churches, including St. Matthew’s House Seniors Centre in Hamilton, St. Luke’s (Palermo) Church and to the Links2Care Seniors Enhancement Centre in Oakville.
Meals produced were Shepherd’s Pie, chili, sausage and lentil soup and roast pork with sweet potatoes and corn, all of which were well-received. Volunteer cooks and delivery persons include Sharon Richardson, Carol Lowes, Sheila Moss, Bonnie Lovelace, Sally Bettinson, Lorie Marrett, Susan Bowen, Pauline Kolbuc, Blair Richardson and Mike Say. A special mention is due to Boffo’s for their discount on the price of meat used in the meals.
Support for New Affordable Housing in Oakville
In the past, St. Jude’s supported a proposal for “Margaret Garden Community”, which was to build four separate six-unit suite clusters (24 affordable housing suites in total) on land owned by Halton Region on Margaret Drive and zoned for this type of housing. In 2018, several Oakville Community Foundation fundholders provided a $170,000 grant to DQI, Home Suite Hope and Kerr Street Mission, to get the construction project to a “shovel ready” stage. Subsequently, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga (HFH) became the lead agency for this project, which fitted well with the HFH strategic plan to build more multi-unit accommodations in Halton Region. Unfortunately, in 2019, the HFH proposal was not accepted by the Regional Municipality of Halton.
In 2019, Indwell staff gave a presentation to J&SM. This organization, based in Hamilton, is a Christian charity that has built over $70 million worth of accommodations in SW Ontario for about 600 people with mental health disabilities. At each location, there is nursing staff 24/7. One of their current building projects is on Lakeshore Road in Mississauga. With encouragement from J&SM, Indwell will be exploring opportunities in Halton Region.
In October, J&SM arranged a showing of the documentary film entitled “Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts”, which was made with support from the Anglican Foundation and General Synod. It depicts the continuing damage to indigenous peoples arising from the papal declaration in 1494 that the lands in North America belonged to no one, and could therefore be colonized. There was a lively discussion after the film, with special guests Wendy Rinella, representing the Oakville Partnership for Truth and Reconciliation and Elijah Williams, Manager of the Centre for Indigenous Learning and Support at Sheridan College and a past recipient of a scholarship from St. Jude’s.
J&SM organized a discussion group of parishioners at the request of the Oakville Community Foundation, which launched “25 Conversations”, an event held with various groups to encourage community connection and build a greater sense of belonging in our community. Many suggestions emerged, including the need to build more rental housing for low-income families.
A volunteer recognition evening was held at the home of Ann Mulvale, to acknowledge and thank those who volunteer in various capacities at St. Jude’s.
Annual Expenditures and Grants to Community Partners
Accountant: Roger Beach
In 2019, a new $5,000 grant was made to Home Suite Hope (HSH), as year one in a commitment to five years of financial support. HSH is an Oakville-based agency providing transitional housing and vital support services, including support for a college education, to single-mother-led families. The grant was intended to assist the younger children in HSH programs to attain elementary and secondary school credentials and to support older children in their transition to post-secondary education.
Of the approved budget for 2019 of $26,000 a total of $21,864.36 (or 84.09% of budget) was utilized to cover grants to partners and direct expenses of programs.
J&SM – SUMMARY OF EXPENSES vs BUDGET – 2019 (Final)
Full Year Expenses
|% Under/ (Over) Budget|
|Kerr St. Ministries (“KSM”)||KSM Dinner Programs||$ 8,000.00||$ 4,844.68||39.4%|
|Food-For-Life (“FFL”)||Grocery Delivery Program||$ 4,000.00||$ 4,062.34||-1.6%|
|Halton Fresh Food Box (“HFFB)||Grocery Delivery Program||$ 3,500.00||$ 2,000.00||42.9%|
|Summer BBQ Program||Summer BBQ||$ 3,500.00||$ 4,766.46||-36.2%|
|Pantry Program||Pantry Program||$ 2,000.00||$ 1,918.43||95.9%|
|Indigenous Scholarship||Indigenous Scholarship||$ –||$ –||n/a|
|Home Suite Hope (“HSH”)||Single Family Support||$ 5,000.00||$ 5,000.00||100.0%|
|Other||$ –||$ (727.55)||n/a|
TOTAL BUDGET vs ACTUAL – 2019:
Notable variances include:
• KSM Dinner Program: As a result of availability of “lead cooks” only 4 of the 9 planned Thursday Night Adult Dinners were hosted. This gave rise to the positive variance to budget reported. All 9 of the planned Monday Night Family Dinners were hosted.
• Halton Fresh Food Box (HFFB): Reduction in number of families receiving support under the Wednesday Food Outreach Program resulted in the need for fewer boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables from HFFB. A monthly delivery of HFFB food bags to Kerr Street Mission was also discontinued during this year.
• Summer BBQ: Unlike prior years, there were no cancellations of BBQ events this year. The 2019 budget reflected actual expenses of prior years, each of which had experienced an average of 3 cancellations. As a result, we experienced a cost over-run which was covered by surpluses under other programs.
A special thank you to everyone who volunteered and to our community partners. Overall, it was another very successful year, only made possible through the support and engagement of our committed and enthusiastic volunteers, our partners, our congregation and its leaders. The investment of time, talent and treasure by St. Jude’s plays a significant dividend in the lives of many fellow Children of God who face the daily challenge of food insecurity.
Respectfully submitted by the Justice and Servant Ministries Team:
Roger Beach, Drew Bucknall, George Duross, Noreen Duross, Blair Richardson, Peter Stamp, Catherine Farrell, Cheryl Wessel
Report on the Development of a Social Justice Mandate for St. Jude’s Church
Since 2010, the mandate for Justice & Servant Ministries has been:
“To mobilize the resources and engage the members of the Parish, focusing these on the problem of hunger/malnutrition amongst families and individuals in Oakville and in Itabo, Cuba (where we have a partner church, St. Mary the Virgin) and working in partnership with a few selected community agencies.”
Since 2010, St. Jude’s has started a number of outreach programs, including monthly dinners at Kerr Street Mission, Food For Life grocery program, weekly summer BBQ’s for residents of Margaret/Maurice Drive, Neighbour Care Network, a Lyons Lane garden plot, and the newest, a pantry program with St. Simon’s Church.
Although our name implies a mandate with two components, both justice and servant ministries, all our programs are in the second category. Recently, J&SM decided to explore a range of social justice issues as a starting point for defining a social justice mandate for St. Jude’s. We invited Deirdre Pike, the Social Justice and Outreach Program Consultant for the Diocese of Niagara, to assist us. We began with a Parish survey on social justice in June, followed by a workshop on October 20, 2019.
This report summarizes this activity and recommends some next steps.
Why should Christians be advocates for justice?
Mervyn Russell addressed this question at our social justice workshop. (Presentation attached as an appendix.)
“Christian individuals and Christian communities have been created by God to be witnesses to God’s loving righteousness, that is, God’s committed, creative, liberating, uniting purpose about the well-being of the world. Jesus lived, died and was raised again to witness to the everlasting truth and endurance of that divine, righteous love. To follow him, we are required to be just and to promote justice for others and ourselves.”
In June, the congregation was asked to complete a written survey, intended to determine if there was a social justice issue (several examples were listed in the survey) that resonated particularly with parishioners. Deirdre Pike suggested that this might indicate an issue that St. Jude’s should address.
There were 30 responses. 20 respondents agreed that it would be helpful for St. Jude’s to choose a social justice issue to work on; four disagreed.
One issue emerged as the clear choice for 23 respondents: environmental sustainability/climate change. 14 respondents chose income inequality/poverty and 10 chose peace. Nine chose truth and reconciliation/indigenous issues. Parishioners mentioned 11 other issues as needing attention, three of which related to affordable housing/homelessness.
Social Justice Workshop
Deirdre Pike facilitated the workshop, which was held on October 20, 2019. Participants included Mervyn Russell, Chris Punnett, Catherine Farrell, Judith Kimber McKenzie, Arlene Paine, Dennis Hurst, Margaret and Drew Bucknall, Tony Houghton, Cheryl Wessel, Linda Boire, Peter Stamp, Peter Keay and Blair Richardson.
Deirdre reviewed the results of the parish survey and asked participants to vote. Each participant was given yellow and red adhesive dots to place on the flip charts listing all the survey issues. The yellow dots indicated issues they were open to pursuing and red dots indicated they had no interest in the issue. Following some discussion of the results of voting, Deirdre asked each participant to place four green dots on the flip chart paper, to indicate those issues they now think are the most important to address. Here are the results of voting:
Housing/Homelessness – 26 green dots and 1 red dot
Climate Crisis – 10 green dots and 4 red dots
Income Inequality/Poverty – 9 green dots and no red dots
Social Determinants of Health – 6 green dots and 3 red dots
Truth and Reconciliation/Indigenous issues – 3 green dots and one red dot
We formed three groups, tasked by Deirdre to take a first cut at defining objectives, actions, timeline, collaborative partners and indicators. We addressed the top three issues and reported back to the whole group on our work.
For the issue of Housing/Homelessness, the two objectives were to increase the number of affordable housing units in Oakville and to reduce homelessness.
For the issue of Income Inequality/Poverty, the objectives were to increase the annual grant to Home Suite Hope and to leverage church resources so as to provide more non-financial supports to HSH family clients.
For the issue of Climate Crisis, the objective was to reduce the carbon footprint of St. Jude’s, both building and congregation footprint.
Proposed Next Steps for J&SM
- Review and discuss the survey and workshop documents and voting results
- Decide to proceed with developing a detailed plan for one, two or three social justice issues
- Find two leaders for developing each plan.
- Find leaders to address the issue of communication and parish engagement
- Once leaders have been recruited, clarify the task assigned to them and the expected completion date.
- Communicate progress to congregation and community stakeholders.