I was privileged to be invited to share St Andrews experience with delivering meals to the community of Hespeler with a group that wants to expand our concept in Cambridge. Thanks go to Joni Smith for including me in the process.
You will find enclosed the Agenda and hand-outs used to open the discussion and lead us to the goals set near the end of this page.
Primarily, there were; 10 current providers of this service, 7 future providers that want to help and a host of professionals from the City, Region and others.
Here are some of the responses I captured in my notes
- Bridges is a non-profit organization has reached the limit of their ability to satisfy the demand for meals and drop-in within the city. They have offered 100% support in the development of new sites by sharing their professional skills and observations.
- Participants agreed a “loose collaborative structure” of a non-profit organization was ideal for the project. Meaning a lot of the administrative functions would fall on people selected to lead the daily operations. No fundraising by volunteers would be done unless that’s your thing and then your talents would be used. Anyone wanting to go deeper into the management of the NGO is encouraged to let them know. Everyone is important. The guests too will be encouraged to help with set-up, tear-down and other tasks. TNSS is exactly like this except we DO IT ALL! Again, TNSS will continue in our niche mission.
- Long term goal to facilitate 7 days a week meal and drop-in centre, the physical building will be funded by the City of Cambridge. Short term Vineyards Forward Baptist Church has been offered free of charge (Ainsley St. Cambridge) to start. It is agreed that we cannot jump from no meals to 700 meals a week overnight. The first exposure will be Tuesdays @ Vineyards until we establish our legs.
- The operational parameters were for a drop-in site that had the room and capacity to run year-round with meals and clothes washing, showers and amenities that are currently not available.
- The model for operation was copied from the St John’s Kitchen which has been in operation for 35 years as a non-profit volunteer-based endeavor in Kitchener. Looks like what we do on a reduced scale.
- The monthly calendar is broken into daily slots, the food for the meal is on-site and the volunteers arrive 1:00 pm to cook (just like we do here) and the bulk of the volunteers show up to serve, clean up and leave the kitchen for the next team. Very similar to what we do on Thursdays TNSS. The estimate need is 10-15 volunteers for one night.
- This structure allows the current providers the ability to continue all the things they have been doing while allowing others to experience the process of short-term missional volunteering.
- Training and best practices will be facilitated by the Region and City of Cambridge.
· Here’s a breakdown of the short-term objectives
- Central location is need due to transportation issues. Work on free bus passes will be communicated but is expensive.
- Amenities are in place to allow disadvantaged people to have a place in Cambridge.
- Once a week to start on Tuesdays. (need providers for 4 Tuesdays in September say) 12 volunteers for each Tuesday.
- One location – Vineyards for now.
- The future expectation is that St Andrews might take one night a month. Just twelve times a year. We could even team up with Westside – they have never done anything like this. Talking about outreach – this is a win-win. At one time a month it is hoped that sufficient teams will be placed to meet all 7 days as we build in confidence.
- I accepted the challenge to raise St Andrews awareness to this opportunity and hopefully place a team in place to move our mission beyond the Hespeler core. A thing we have talked about and now can safely explore.
- No trial program is envisioned – this is it! It is expected that we WILL be successful and the Cambridge Kitchen will grow as able with the backing of a huge amount of talent and skills.
- I encourage all St Andrews people to look at the plusses of this experience, the joy of serving and the benefits to the City of Cambridge.
You might say I’ve been energized by this and you would be right. Let me give you a personal opinion – this endeavor will be organized and run by the volunteers in conjunction with the users. The City and Region are silent stake holders. I saw a group of people who want to make Cambridge better without endless meetings, meaningless rules and issues. This program is designed to appeal to people that want a short-term volunteer experience with defined benefits. In, volunteer clean up and out. I am counting on St Andrews to share our experience and I will be actively recruiting volunteers to be in on the exciting opportunity.
We have a huge supply of people who just don’t know they’re volunteers yet! Let’s build the dream.
Respectfully Rob Hodgson