West Broadway Community Ministry
What they do:
BORN in the '60s, the West Broadway Community Ministry supported "young hippies" -- who outraged the public by camping at Memorial Park -- and gave them a place to share their experiences confidentially, eat and wash up.
Fast forward to 2010 and, while West Broadway is one of the city's poorer neighbourhoods, the WBCM continues to reach out to feed the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of individuals and families in the neighbourhood. Aside from year-round outreach, WBCM is helping the needy make their own Christmas traditions.
Hopes for the holidays:
EACH Christmas, WBCM attracts 90-100 community members from all walks of life.
"For some it's their only Christmas... for many of them this is their community and where they want to be," said Bob Gilbert, WBCM community minister.
Gilbert gives props to interfaith partner Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, which provides a Christmas feast but will not be present only because Christmas this year falls on the Jewish Sabbath. "The barriers of class, race and religion break down on this day," said Gilbert, referring to the diversity of residents in West Broadway. "People enjoy each other's company... that's what Christmas is really all about."
For singles, the homeless and families needing a welcoming place to be on Christmas Day, the WBCM will open its doors from 1 to 3 p.m., where visitors will be treated to a lunch feast, carolling (accompanied by piano) and gifts such as toiletries, toys and clothing. Plus, an annual community Christmas church service will be held 2 p.m., Dec. 22. combining worship with Hope Mennonite, Young United and All Saints Anglican churches. Gilbert explains the service is held during the day for those who can't make an evening service. These events will be held at Crossways, 222 Furby St.
How to help:
"WE are so blessed that we run out of things for our volunteers to do," said Gilbert, who encourages people to keep on giving, but to keep in mind other charities in desperate need.
Collecting gifts and food donations is year-round effort, which Gilbert says is a team effort by partners such as: MTS, Miles Macdonell Collegiate, Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Molly's Meat Pies, plus the Anglican and United Churches.