BUILDING COMMUNITY. GROWING HOPE. SUPPORTING CHANGE
Read about Jason's transformation
A Faithful Heart
LIVING IN LIGHT OF HIS LOVE
“The meals are great, and they’ve got everything – clothing, hygiene products. I’m sleeping a lot better - it’s so peaceful here in the church. There’s something here at FAC that finally connected with myself and said ‘listen, the way you’re living is just going to lead to death or jail’ – and that was a real big fear for me.”I first came to the mustard seed shelter four years ago, after losing my house due to drugs. After this, I moved into the largest homeless shelter in western Canada and continued to abuse drugs. In the spring of 2017, I entered into a yearlong faith-based rehab and was introduced into biblical teachings, stayed drug free and graduated in the summer of 2018. After only one week, I relapsed and almost succeeded in taking my own life. God rescued me in my darkest hour and pursued me constantly, but the drugs kept my mind closed to fully surrendering my life of pleasure. At this point of my life, shame, guilt and fear dominated, and thoughts of suicide came to me daily. My destiny was set before me, either take the wide road to self-destruction, or repent and believe in Jesus to lead me into a new way of living. The desperation of my situation, and the terrible fear of going to jail or dying, forced me to seriously change, but I had always failed many times to be sober on my own willpower.
All throughout this wonderful transformation, this ministry has been with me, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Mustard Seed. Repayment comes from sharing my journey to others suffering needlessly, and seeking salvation by living clean and sober.
When COVID-19 was declared a world-wide pandemic back in March 2020, The Mustard Seed faced one of its toughest moments as an organization. Alberta Health Services declared that physical distancing must be implemented, which cut The Mustard Seed’s Foothills Emergency Shelter’s capacity down significantly. It was at this time of great need and many prayers that an incredible partnership formed with First Alliance Church (FAC) in Calgary. FAC opened their doors to our most vulnerable population and graciously began offering 120 guests a safe, warm place to rest their heads each night.
“It’s a small miracle that I’m even here talking to you."
These powerful words are shared by Jason, a guest of The Mustard Seed in Calgary. He remembers feeling anxious when he arrived at the Emergency Shelter. Having a troubled childhood and experiencing homelessness for years, he often felt alone - especially during the pandemic. He had been homeless for over four years, a result of a terrible drug addiction that took everything from him, including his home. Sadly, he had grown up watching his mother battle with the same war since the day he was born.
“I really didn’t want to come here... then I eventually thought what have I got to lose – I’ll go check out this church.”
This decision proved to be one of the best things Jason could do for himself.
“That was a life changing moment for me,” he told us, professing that so many opportunities had made themselves present at FAC, including having nourishing meals and a place of safety during the pandemic which has lifted his spirit immensely.
“The meals are great, and they’ve got everything – clothing, hygiene products. I’m sleeping a lot better - it’s so peaceful here in the church. There’s something here at FAC that finally connected with myself and said ‘listen, the way you’re living is just going to lead to death or jail’ – and that was a real big fear for me.”
Read about our Dinner2Door Program
You’re Serving Hope with Every Meal
Thank you for ensuring no one goes hungryFood se·cu·ri·ty
Noun: the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Currently, 1 in 8 Edmontonians are experiencing poverty; 84% being women and children.The pandemic brought on a new wave of hardships for those already struggling to make ends meet - a battle with food security. With public health orders to stay home, the need for meals was at an all-time high. Through your support, Dinner2Door (D2D) was launched to meet the needs of the community.
D2D is a program that ensures our vulnerable Edmontonians, who are living in poverty, have access to healthy and frequent meals.
HOW DOES D2D WORK?Nutritious meals are prepared by staff and volunteers before being dropped off right at the doorstep of people in need. Every meal is handled with the highest health and safety protocols which creates an extra sense of security for our community.
Read about Bruce's story of perseverance
Food for Thought
Q&A WITH BRUCE - A SPECIAL SOMEONE YOU HELPED THIS YEARQ: WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
A: I was born and raised in Alberta. I moved to Kamloops, BC, when I was younger for work. Out of high school, I got married, had kids, but got divorced by the time I was 30.
Q: What did you do for work after high school?
A: I spent more than 25 years working different jobs for Sheet Metal Workers’ & Roofers’ Union Local 280. The pay was pretty good, the benefits were really good and I liked the idea about putting money into a pension for when I got older.
Q: How did you discover The Mustard Seed?
A: I learned about The Mustard Seed back in Calgary and what they were all about. I thought it was a great organization for a great cause. I remember when they built the New Life Mission here in town before it became The Mustard Seed. I’ve watched the changes take place here and I’ve met some really great people.
Q: How did you find yourself at The Mustard Seed Kamloops?
A: I’ve struggled with addictions for a long time. When I was younger, I was drinking and doing drugs. I went to jail for robbing a liquor store years ago. Basically, there became a point in my life I was down and out. I needed a place to eat and if I needed it, a place to stay.
This place has everything you need to survive, if you’re lucky enough. They serve meals throughout the day, they provide bus tickets to get you to where you need to go, there are mats for a place to stay and there are some great people you can meet here. Thank God for the people that continue to donate to this place.
Q: What’s your current status with The Mustard Seed?
A: I recently spent nine months in a hotel, so I would come here for food sometimes. I’m looking at moving on from the hotel and into my own place later next month. I still come here occasionally for meals, though. It’s also given me the opportunity to start looking into my pension and what I can make from that.
Q: What have you learned from The Mustard Seed that has helped you?
A: Everyday when I leave this place, I try to do two things: watch my language and be nice to people. I don’t have to go up to people I’m not comfortable with because I don’t want to cause a commotion. I like the acronym, K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple, Sir. This place is truly wonderful and showed me the benefits of having a positive attitude towards everything, everyday.
Q: The Mustard Seed is a Christian-based organization. How, if at all, has that helped the path you’re on?
A: It has certainly helped ground me. As far as I’m concerned, the Christian way is a good way. Christians care and they share, which I’ve noticed at times, not all society feels that way. So, it’s nice to be surrounded by these good people.
Read about Jennifer's journeyLike many of us, Jennifer quit her job looking for a more suitable position for her growing needs. She wasn’t worried about finding another job as she had many years of experience and had always been employed. But then the pandemic hit.
With everything shutting down, she struggled for over a year to find employment or get approved for financial support. Jennifer had “zero money coming in” – and the bills piled sky high.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER LIFE, JENNIFER FOUND HERSELF FACING THE UNTHINKABLE - HOMELESSNESS
For a while, she was able to stay with friends and family to get by. But she felt like a burden to those around her. It was during a meeting with her pastor that she realized that she needed help to get her back on her feet. After praying about it, she took a leap of faith and moved to Red Deer so she could stay at The Mustard Seed’s Shelter.
“When I went to The Mustard Seed here in Red Deer, I was like I got nothing,” Jennifer says. “My pride was absolutely gone at that point. This is financial rock bottom.”
Because of your generosity, Jennifer was able to stay at our emergency shelter and receive the stability and support she needed to begin piecing her life back together. “It was a very safe space to be,” she says. “I have a rapport with the shelter staff, they’ve gone beyond and helped me so much.”
THROUGH HARD WORK AND INCREDIBLE RESILIENCY, JENNIFER FOUND EMPLOYMENT AND STARTED REBUILDING HER SAVINGS WHILE STAYING AT THE MUSTARD SEED SHELTER
She recalls with a smile about how supportive the shelter staff was whenever she came back after a shift at work.
“I was able to come back to the shelter shortly after midnight, and I was able to wash my clothes, take a shower, which you normally don’t do after hours,” Jennifer says. “There was always a meal after I came back from work. It gives you that stamina to go on to the next day.”
After staying at the shelter for a few months, Jennifer was able to leave with not one, but two stable jobs, a renewed sense of confidence, and the keys to her very own apartment.
“Thank you so much for your open arms, your support, your guidance. You gave me a place to rest, you gave me food, and I’ll be forever, eternally grateful.”
Read about Troy's resiliency
30 MINUTES. THAT’S ALL IT TOOK FOR TROY’S HOME TO BURN DOWN, ALONG WITH A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES.
“My wallet and everything was lost – I lost everything,” Troy told us. “All of the pictures of my mom, the video tape I had of her laughing, my son’s teeth, the hair from his first haircut, and his clothes. Gone.”
Troy’s home burning down was the lowest point he had experienced in his life, and he had unfortunately gone through many tragedies previously. By the time Troy turned 45, he had experienced serious suicidal and mental health issues deeply rooted into his upbringing. Troy battled with addictions, custody over his son, and eventually homelessness, throughout most of his adulthood.
After the fire, The Red Cross put Troy in a hotel for a few days, but after his time was up, he found himself scared for his future. With no belongings, he headed to The Mustard Seed’s Emergency Shelter.
“I had always had this preconceived notion of what a homeless person was, and that notion was nothing like what I met,” Troy says. “I honestly thought that if I was going to be homeless, I’d be dead in a week. It’s been 7 months and I’m still here and kicking.”
Troy admitted he was extremely hesitant the first time he came to The Mustard Seed. After settling in and meeting the staff and other guests, he found himself becoming more comfortable.
“Just having the basic things taken care of for you by people that love and care about you … it’s extraordinary.”
He started to connect and engage more and more with Mustard Seed staff, who supported and encouraged him to get clean and healthy, mentally, and physically – then he could begin nurturing his hope and faith into new beginnings.
Troy has taken tremendous steps towards a new beginning and has enthusiastically told us that he is going to be a sober person moving forward.
“Homelessness isn’t something that I ever thought I would get into. Knowing every night I have a place that I can come to and rest my head, I’m going to be safe, I’m going to be warm, and I’m going to be full – just to have those three basic things taken care of, has allowed me to focus on me and has allowed me to get to where I am.”
Read about Marg's path of recovery
Together, We’re Helping People like Marg
HOW YOUR GIFT OF A MEAL BRINGS HOPEMarg has always been a driven individual despite the traumatic events that have plagued her life. Although she has suffered for years, Marg tries to smile through the pain each day and be there for her children.
“I’ve been through a lot … but I’ve never let it get to me,” Marg says. “I’ve had heartache all my life.”
Many Years Ago, Marg Was in a Terrible Car Accident
The pain she experienced was so severe that couldn’t continue to work at her beloved job. Already dealing with the aftermath of car accident, faced more challenges. A freak accident spider bite left serious for almost ten years.
“I had apply disability and told it would only take three months – took over year,” says. Without debt piling up, desperate support meals. She found herself Mustard Seed Medicine Hat after being recommended by friend.
Your Support has Provided Marg with Food Security
She praises the chefs that serve up her favourite meal, including mouth-watering smokies, garlic bread, and the best scrambled eggs in town. Being a diabetic, Marg is grateful every day that The Mustard Seed can accommodate her specific needs and continue helping others in similar situations.
“When I pay bills, I don’t have very much leftover to buy groceries. I’m thankful for the opportunity. It’s wonderful that I can get a meal from The Mustard Seed. I don’t always go every day, but through The Mustard Seed, sometimes it makes me three meals a day, so it’s very helpful.”