Sunday, July 23, 2017
   
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Mustard Seed: A Welcoming Space

On Saturdays, Hanna (standing left) is the Coordinator for Fontbonne Ministries' Saturday Drop-In at Mustard Seed. For the last three years, she has arrived early in the morning with volunteers and staff. They prepare snacks and coffee, set up tables and get ready for visitors. By 10 a.m., the participants arrive. They sit down for muffins and hot drinks while a volunteer plays the piano. Some gather over a chess board, others read the newspapers, some work on crossword puzzles together and some just sit and talk. After a few hours, lunch is served.
 
During the five hours of the drop-in, Hanna moves among the visitors, talking with them and listening as they tell her what’s going on in their lives. “People come in,” says Hanna, “and feel valued and important.” 
 
As a veteran staff member and volunteer at different Toronto drop-ins, Hanna finds Mustard Seed unique in its approach. “Mustard Seed does not focus on registration and data entry when people come in,” explains Hanna. “We think of people as guests, not clients. And we do not make a big division between staff, volunteers and guests: we all work together to make the Saturday Drop-In a warm and welcoming space.”
 
Mike, who is both a volunteer and staff member (pictured above on the right), appreciates the cooperative spirit at Mustard Seed. He volunteers as a teacher of basic computer skills twice a week and is on staff at the front desk for the Saturday Drop-In. “There’s a lot of variety,” says Mike, “and people are very friendly here. If I weren’t a volunteer, I’d come in anyway.”
 
Ibrahim Ng
 

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