Featuring a keynote speaker with an amazing and truly inspirational story to share, The Mustard Seed’s first annual ‘Seeds of Hope Gala’ runs Oct. 20th at the Sheraton Hotel.
“The purpose of the Gala is to put a face on poverty and homelessness in the City,” said Scott Tilbury, fund development officer – Central Alberta.
“We’ve invited a number of artists to come and express through art the challenges we face in our community,” he said. Highlights of the evening include local artist Erin Boake painting a mural during the event that will, “Put a picture on what we call hope,” explained Tilbury. “There will be a face of resilience, one of hope, one of joy and that art will be placed here in The Mustard Seed.
“Also, our keynote speaker is Derek Clark. He’s known as ‘Rapping Dad’ in the U.S. His mother, when he was in her womb, didn’t want him. His father didn’t want him either.
“When he was born, they gave him up to foster care, and he ended up going through 13 foster care families,” he said.
According to his web site, Clark is also described as a survivor of brutal child abuse, rejection and abandonment.
“He is an international speaker, author of seven books and recently became an Internet sensation for his viral video Rapping Dad with over 225 million views.”
Clark also ended up living on the streets, and that’s where he learned how to rap.
“His message is, ‘I will never give up,” said Tilbury. “Why he is a perfect fit for us is that not only do we help children here, but we also help men and women who are still carrying a lot of baggage as they deal with childhood memories. He can relate to both, and he will deliver that motivational message.
“The other part of the Gala is that we are talking about the complexity of homelessness. There are about 13 or 14 factors to it, and there is a stigma generally speaking,” said Tilbury, adding that many on the streets have suffered from some sort of trauma. “The number one reason for homelessness in women is domestic violence,” he said. “So we are going to be educating the public – in a fun way – through those in the room who can tell their stories. Derek is one person (to do that), and there are many others who will be there, too.”
Meanwhile, The Mustard Seed will be expanding its services on Dec. 1st by assuming operation of the People’s Place shelter from Safe Harbour Society. Safe Harbour has been providing overnight shelter to homeless individuals experiencing sobriety at People’s Place since 1998.
The shelter currently accommodates up to 46 during the winter months, and 35 for the remainder of the year.
“The Mustard Seed has more capacity than we do to enhance services; they are committed to working closely with us, and the broader community to ensure appropriate support systems are in place for our most vulnerable citizens,” says Kath Hoffman, executive director, Safe Harbour Society.
“We will continue to provide the daytime Warming Centre at Safe Harbour and continue working towards enhancing services in the community,” adds Hoffman.
With The Mustard Seed’s addition of People’s Place, individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty now have access to shelter, food, clothing, health and wellness support, and spiritual care in one centralized location, said Byron Bradley, managing director of Central Alberta for The Mustard Seed.
“Our guests often experience several barriers in their lives, and having all of our services and support systems in one building will reduce the obstacles our guests face every day,” says Bradley.
“We’ve been partnering with Safe Harbour since day one – and they’ve been a fantastic partner,” he said.
“We’ve seen what they’ve been doing, and have learned from the great work they’ve done, and we really want to build on that,” he said, adding that from day one hot breakfasts will also be offered to the shelter guests seven days a week, too. “We will also send them off with a bag lunch,” he said. “Really, what we want to do is to provide that holistic care.
“Our continuum will now include emergency shelter. We’ve been mostly focused on the food, health and wellness and spiritual care, now that can extend into the other part of basic services with the emergency shelter.
“Also, similarly to how we’ve stood on the shoulders of the Loaves and Fishes staff and volunteers of 25 years here (at The Mustard Seed), we will now stand on the shoulders of Safe Harbour staff and try to build on the legacy they’ve been running in this basement for many years,” he said. “We will be able to foster and deepen our relationships with people as well.”