Our Stories Edmonton
Read about what's happening at The Mustard Seed through our latest and past newsletters. Or, read our other stories below.
By Brook, volunteer
Sewing group teaches new skill while building community
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
In the spirit of this proverb, the volunteer leaders of the weekly sewing group are committed to teaching people how to sew and not just doing their sewing for them.
Their commitment is tested with countless requests for mending, to which they reply, "We won't do it for you, but we will show you how to do it for yourself."
As a result, community members are mending their own zippers, pockets, split seams, and hemming jeans and lining hats. When the drop-in sewing classes started last December, the first projects were Christmas stockings. The leaders, Brook, Ann and Ruth wondered if anyone even wanted to learn to sew. They were surprised at the interest shown, and there has been plenty of sewing.
With direction, community members have made ponchos, bags, blouses and sock monsters. They've transformed T-shirts, sewn ears onto hats, mended clothes and more.
The sewing group has two dedicated sewers who have not only completed projects from the pattern stage, but also want to keep sewing!
One of the community members, who is also Edmonton's biggest Oilers fan, mended his treasured Oilers jacket and belt.
When someone asked him what he was doing, he showed them the jacked he had repaired, beaming with pride.
By Katherine Cardinal, 2010 SUP Facilitator
Summer Urban Placement program offers community members the opportunity to share their stories
The Mustard Seed's Summer Urban Placement (SUP) program offers youth groups a week long immersion learning experience in our community. Groups participate in educational seminars, work projects and various other aspects of our programs. One powerful element of SUP is the opportunity for community members to share parts of their stories - pieces of their hearts and lives - with each group.
Joe is a community member who regularly shares his story and finds it to be an extremely life-giving experience. The last year and half of Joe's life was filled with heartbreak and trials. In January 2009, he lost his wife of 11 years to a sudden illness. She was the only member of his family who was still a part of his life. Shortly afterward, he found himself living on the street with no possessions, a choice that was not his own. Though he was homeless for only a few months, these shattering experiences left Joe with a heavy sadness.
In July, Joe began telling his story to our SUP groups, sharing his wisdom and experiences. Joe's voice was heard and his life narrative affirmed, giving him new hope and empowerment.
Joe's enthusiasm increased with each group, and his sharing times became a highlight of his week, as well as an impacting time for our groups. The last SUP group in August left Joe a heartfelt card, thanking him for his friendship and wishing him God's blessings as he continues his healing journey.
More than a cup of coffee
By Janice Halliwell, Manager of Donor Development
Employees raise funds for coffee supplies
The employees of Clark Builders amassed essential supplies for The Mustard Seed's drop in. A whopping 280 kg of sugar, 48 cans of
Coffee-mate, 4.7 kg of iced tea, 2.4 kg of lemonade and 300 packages of hot chocolate were donated. The field offices, not to be outdone, collected an additional $2,800.
Here's how they did it: Each staff member donated one dollar for every cup of coffee they had in the month of April.
Coffee is the lifeblood of The Mustard Seed. It is a symbol of warmth, rest, and togetherness. Over 1,000 cups are served each day as people connect every afternoon and evening as well as visit and play games.
"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." - Mother Theresa
Like Mother Theresa, The Mustard Seed desires a safe, accepting environment for all. The Mustard Seed is a community of support for people who often have no support networks left.
Thank you to Clark Builders and the many donors and volunteers who choose to support The Mustard Seed and keep the coffee pot on!
Partnering for hope
By Debbie Fawcett, Women's Reintegration Chaplain
Your donations provide mentorship and support for women transitioning out of prison
Emmaus Partners is a program that brings together a volunteer and someone who is coming back into the community after serving time in federal prison.
Emmaus Partners provide support and accountability to these individuals in order to empower them to achieve their goals and acquire the skills needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle and contribute to healthy communities.
Janet has been a volunteer in the program for ten months and has developed a strong relationship with Carrie, the woman she is partnered with. "It's challenging and an awesome responsibility," says Janet of this partnership. "I think it's just wonderful. It's stretching me and helping me to grow. I feel really blessed and privileged to be in Carrie's life."
Carrie is equally appreciative for the relationship she has developed with Janet through Emmaus Partners.
"Having an Emmaus mentor is great," Carrie says. Even though I was totally against it at first, I am glad that God took over that decision. This program means the world to me. It has given me the strength to work through issues with support and a positive influence. My mentor helps me in all areas and picks me up when times seem unbearable. This is no longer just a mentorship- it is a friendship of trust, honesty and genuine love without judgement. This is something I have never had."
"I thank God for this program and hope that it continues to help others as much as it has helped me."
Poor yet rich in spirit
By Irene & Sig, Faith Companions Volunteers
As two members of the general public, the main question in our minds about those living in need was, "How do people end up homeless?"
This is why we attended The Mustard Seed's "Explore! Seminar" last year. We heard the answer to our question first-hand from people who were brave enough to share their stories. We were inspired to volunteer and were profoundly affected by our experiences.
We started volunteering one evening per week at The Mustard Seed.
As "Faith Companions," we shared Christian literature with those in the community, chatted with them, and most importantly, prayed with them if requested.
It has been a heartbreaking, heartwarming, and humbling experience.
We have heard the pain, regret, and desperation in the voices of those needing help. Some people have not been allowed to see their children. Others have come from war torn countries and felt like failures to their family. Yet, some were wealthy at one time, but in the end, lost every cent because of an addiction.
When they came for prayer, they realized they still had one thing - their faith in God to help them change.
An unexpected surprise came when we met people whose lives had been so radically changed that they now wanted to help others. They may have been "poor" in earthly things but they were rich in spiritual blessings. God filled them with hope and love when their spirits were down. This reminded us of Jesus' words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)
We feel privileged to be a part of these people's lives as volunteers. We will never again judge someone by what they look like on the outside.