My office looks out over East Hastings from the second floor of our beat up, old building in the Downtown Eastside. Some mornings as I arrive, I take a breath and look out the window to the street below.
It’s a brief opportunity for reflection in what has been a whirlwind ten weeks.
Being the executive director of a frontline outreach ministry this spring has been intense. It has meant endless zoom meetings, near-constant information gathering to keep pace with best practices, and decision fatigue as our team problem-solves our way through uncertainty.
But it has also meant I have witnessed first-hand the care and generosity this community is capable of in a crisis. So I wanted to take a moment as our Easter Fundraising Drive comes to a close to say thank you.
Thanks to our First United community’s incredible response, we made it to our Easter fundraising target.This will go a long way to help us respond to COVID-19: purchasing to-go containers for meal service, sourcing masks and gloves for staff and shelter residents; buying additional cleaning supplies; and installing a takeout window at our main entrance.
We have made changes to our operations to continue safely serving the people who call the Downtown Eastside home. You can find details of our service changes here.
I want to thank everyone who has stepped forward to help: financial gifts, mask donations, volunteer service, work on the frontlines, shares and supportive comments on our social media, or staying home to keep essential workers safer. Your help makes a difference.
Today is the last day of our Easter fundraising drive. Thank you to all those who have chipped in. If you haven’t yet contributed and you would like to, there is still time. You can donate online here: firstunited.ca/donate
Many of us are affected by this pandemic, and not everyone is in a position to give. If you are, please know that your donation – no matter the amount – is dearly appreciated. If you are not, please know that we appreciate your support in any form.
First United will rise to this challenge, but we will not do it alone. It’s hard not to feel afraid in the face of uncertainty. But feeling fear is normal – especially now. It is what we do in the face of fear that matters: and courage is what we do in the face of fear. From my experience these last two months, I can tell you: it is far easier to feel courageous when you have a community behind you.
In my brief morning moments of pause, I reflect on my hope for change: I hope this massive global disruption will usher in the systems change we so desperately need. I hope the kindness and solidarity we have shown each other will continue, and that together we emerge stronger. I hope we answer the call to justice. The First United community support fuels my hope. Thank you for standing with us.
The Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne