To say the past year has been “challenging” would be an understatement, to say the least.
The opening months of the year were unremarkable, with Fontbonne Ministries providing connection, community and caring to the elderly, vulnerable and isolated across Toronto. Through pottery classes, movie nights, affordable food markets, drop-ins, special events and theological discussions, the staff and volunteers continued to serve those in need.
And then came COVID-19, and by mid-March, our lives, it seemed, had been completely upended.
With the declaration of the Provincial State of Emergency, all non-essential businesses – including two of Fontbonne Ministries’ sites, Village Mosaic and Studio on the Hill – were closed, and people were ordered to stay home.
It was clear from the beginning that staying closed wasn’t an option – while COVID-19 would affect everyone, the challenges of a lockdown would be disproportionately difficult for those we serve. Hoping for the best wasn’t an option.
Instead, we found new ways.
The drop-in program became a takeaway lunch served outdoors – first two days a week, and then three; expanding from about 70 guests in March to more than 300 every week by the end of August.
Staff and volunteers made regular check-in phone calls to clients isolated in their homes, providing vital connection to the new normal.
We discovered underused technology like conference calling and Zoom to hold virtual pottery classes, bingo games, trivia nights, chair yoga sessions, and to bring together spiritually inquisitive young people for discussion, debate and learning.
Together with a community of friends, neighbours, volunteers and supporters, we weathered a challenging year that demonstrated our continuing commitment to doing the ordinary with extraordinary care … in extraordinary times.
We’re looking forward to what’s next!
Sister Georgette Gregory, CSJ
Board President and Chair