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St. Matthews Maryland Community Ministry has been loving its westend neighbours, some of the most vulnerable people in our city, for over 40 years.
Providing a safe, comfortable and accepting “home away from home”, we welcome people who otherwise would be lonely and hungry. We could boast that over a year there are 9,000 visits to our drop-in, but we don’t. Instead, we lament that in a city as wealthy as ours, so many people need what we offer. (See a video about us.)
Belonging is a core human need.
Simple gestures say, “you matter”: a hearty welcome, accompanied by a sandwich, cup of coffee and friendly conversation. Our daily drop-in is a living room space, where the banter is like that of a family. At St. Matthews Maryland, we know your name. Trained care providers lend a listening ear and help with referrals. Sometimes just knowing that someone sincerely cares is enough to carry people to the next day. Through our Food Supplement Program (in partnership with Winnipeg Harvest, Monday) and our Emergency Food Cupboard (Tuesday and Thursday) we are able to provide some tangible relief, and our goal is to be gracious and respectful of people who come for the assistance.
Poverty is isolating and can destroy your soul.
Poverty is a violation of the most fundamental human rights. We know that people with mental and physical disabilities, single parents (especially single mothers), Aboriginal people, recent immigrants and refugees, elderly individuals, and racialized persons are most likely to be poor. These are the people who live in our neighbourhood and attend our programs. It is a scandal that the most vulnerable among us should have to struggle so hard every single day. (Learn more about the West Central neighbourhood of Winnipeg.)
“Low income predisposes people to material and social deprivation. The greater the deprivation, the less likely families are able to afford the basics of health such as food, clothing, and housing. Deprivation also contributes to social exclusion by making it harder to participate in cultural, educational, and recreational activities. In the long run, social exclusion affects one’s health and lessens the abilities to live a fulfilling day-to-day life.” (From Social Determinants of Health THE CANADIAN FACTS)
Programs that give dignity.
A trip to the beach, access to Facebook, a friendly card game, a meal with friends: making these simple social activities available assists people to overcome social isolation. Our annual Christmas Store challenges the handout model by giving parents and their children the dignity of choosing gifts. Nutrition Bingo is fun, teaches about healthy food choices, and winners take home all the ingredients to make a healthy meal. With our Preschoolers program, parents get the assurances they need to do a good job raising their kids. Our Artist Circle is an affirming outlet for creative expression and development of talents. (Learn more about our Programs.)
A community makes this possible.
Responding to the gospel command to “love your neighbour as yourself”, the people of the Anglican and United Churches sponsor this ministry. Volunteers, including those from the neighbourhood and from other parts of the city and beyond, commit the equivalent of 5 full time staff people each year! Financial support, from the churches, public agencies and generous donors and foundations, is essential to keeping the door open.