Affordable Housing, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Charity, community, compassion, Diana Schwenk, dreams, History, Homelessness, Hump Day Chronicles, life, living in the moment, memories, passion, Purpose, Relationships, The Mustard Seed
It was a beautiful Friday morning when I stepped out of my apartment to walk to the Mustard Seed. I intentionally chose a route that would take me past the original Mustard Seed at 521 13 Avenue SW.
Although the building no longer exists and the site has become an extension of First Baptist’s parking lot, it is a place that I often come to when I feel lost or need to make a major decision – a sacred space, if you will.
In my mind’s eye I can still see all the people on the porch of the old house that served as The Seed’s coffee house drop-in. Back then, the idea of housing folks who were homeless was just a glint in our eye, a dream we kept like a treasure in our hearts.
Unknown to us at the time, people like Jeff would spend the night wrapped in a sleeping bag tucked behind the boards under the porch. And occasionally I brought teenaged girls home with me, or spent the night with them at that old house.
The old Veteran’s Hospital used to be across the street where the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre now stands. I remember seeing the faces of the old Veterans pressed against the windows, no doubt wondering what in tarnation was going on across the street. When they learned that we would be moving to 102 11 Avenue SE in the early 90s, they lamented that they would miss, what they called, the greatest entertainment around.
Ahh but that was then and this is now. And I was on my way to the Mustard Seed for the grand opening of the 1010 Centre.
Stephen Wile, CEO of the Mustard Seed welcomed his guests including donors, government representatives, members of the Resolve Campaign team and past and present staff and volunteers.
He spoke of his gratitude to all in attendance; those who were there in the beginning with the vision and dream, those who began the process of implementing the plan and those who now occupy the centre’s spaces and facilitate hopes and dreams within its walls.
Pat Nixon, former CEO and Founder of the Mustard Seed spoke to the beginnings of the vision, the early meetings with key stakeholders and the objections and NIMBYism that arose and were overcome.
He went on to talk about the NOW, the new beginning in a building containing homes for up to 224 people and how these homes will change the lives of thousands.
Then a current resident spoke. She started by saying that three years ago she had it all; things were going well.
And then her husband died. And she fell into a depression and lost her job. Things continued on a downward spiral until she lost her home and was living in her car.
She eventually ended up at the 1010 Centre and spoke about the programs and wonderful staff who have lifted her out of despair.
“I don’t know if you noticed when you walked in,” she said. “But there are three little words on the main floor – Hope Grows Here – check it out when you leave, if you didn’t see it on the way in. Those words are true.”
The grand opening included other inspirational speakers, a tour of the facility and an incredible lunch. I got to see people I haven’t seen in years and I was witness to the dream, realized.
It was an emotional event for me, one that I feel honoured to have been invited to and privileged to have attended.
“Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~
I am fortunate to see this dream fulfilled. Often that isn’t the case in life. Do you ever wonder about how something you started turned out in the end?