August 1st, 2015 Marlene St. Jean, Outreach Support, Metropolitan United Community Outreach Program
Metropolitan United Church’s Community Outreach program welcomes all who come to our doors. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto at Queen St. East and Church St., Metropolitan has had the opportunity to be of service to our community since 1830.
By Our focus of support is on those who are hungry, in need of housing services, coping with mental health or addiction challenges, and people looking to re-establish their place in their community.
Some of our clients at Metropolitan are visiting us from shelters, rehab centres or directly from off of the street. Many carry all of their belongings with them when they arrive. Some struggle with addiction and some struggle with mental illness. And almost all of our clients live well below the poverty line. Whatever the cause, our clients are in a position in life that has left them without the means to access life’s basic necessities.
Thanks to the generous support of Second Harvest, we are able to offer our clients a variety of nutritious meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at our drop-in program and a selection of fresh items in our food bank every Friday. Our drop-in program is the hub of our community, where we also offer our clients access to computers, clothing rooms, counselling, housing support as well as meditation and art classes.
Second Harvest rescues food – the end result of that effort rescues people. Our mission is to empower clients to lead meaningful lives, which is a unique proposition for each individual – individuals like Mike Mallard. Mike is a great example of our mission in action. While Mike is a client who benefits from our services, he is also a key resource for our program. Mike is one of our “official volunteers”, helping out with everything from setting up tables and chairs for our drop-in meal program to unloading food deliveries. Mike’s willingness to lend a hand and his consistent good nature are endless. With well over 100 clients in the centre at any given time, Mike’s support helps us to fulfill our mission of improving the quality of our clients’ lives.
“Together with Second Harvest, our Community Outreach program not only feeds bodies, we nourish souls.”
Many of our clients, including Mike, don’t have access to refrigeration or cooking facilities. This becomes challenging when trying to maintain a healthy diet. There is a perception among the public that our clients will eat whatever we serve. This is not the case. Many of our clients do care about what they put into their bodies often opting for smaller portions of carbohydrates with preferences to lean cuts of meat and vegetarian options. That is what makes our drop-in program so very much appreciated. Trays provided by Second Harvest containing salads, vegetables, potatoes, rice and pasta dishes accompanied by chicken, pork or steak provide vital nutrition and sustenance to our clients.
Clients are encouraged to visit our food bank twice a week. Thanks to our weekly Second Harvest delivery, we are able to offer fresh produce, dairy, meat and other items, which complement our existing stock of non-perishable items, helping our clients to prepare balanced meals.
The dedication of the volunteers and staff at Second Harvest help us to create a platform to treat our clients with dignity and respect while also providing an opportunity for our clients to give back in a meaningful way. As Mike says, “When I can put a smile on someone’s face or make a positive difference – that’s what matters to me. I was raised that it’s important to give back so that’s exactly what I try to do each and every day.”
Together with Second Harvest, our Community Outreach program not only feeds bodies, we nourish souls. Souls of good people like Mike Mallard. That is what a simple plate of food can do.
image: Mike Mallard: Metropolitan United client, volunteer, and all-round great guy