Integrated Community Ministries (ICM) serves Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods, many of which are economically poor and rich in diversity, stories and strength. It works out of KAP House, sharing space with Str8 Up and the Micah Mission, in an immediate area that is very much lacking in basic services and supports. ICM offers a weekly community lunch, Chop n Chat, that is a safe space for gathering. It also plans an annual art display, 10×10, by and with people who live in the neighbourhoods. COVID-19 has had a harsh impact on the community, and there are major concerns about everything from food insecurity to the enormous impacts of layoffs. People who are incarcerated have been locked down for weeks, unable to receive visitors, and this too has a major and negative impact.
Community minister Lorraine Harkness writes,
“I regret to inform you that we have recently cancelled all programming for the time being and will reconsider this as Covid-19 ceases to be a big concern to all of us.
In view of our inability to serve the Core communities in this time of great need, we intend to make donations to the three agencies that are continuing to serve the core communities in the area of food. Those agencies are Saskatoon Food Bank, who are trying to make slightly larger hampers available and are thinking specifically about breakfast and lunch meals for children, who are not now in school; CHEP and Friendship Inn have joined forces to prepare bag lunches that are being distributed from the Friendship Inn. We encourage you, if finances permit, to consider a donation to one or more of these agencies to help provide the much-needed food.
I recently read words of encouragement from the Center for Courage and Renewal, written by their executive director Kathryn McElveen. I will share portions of her words below, not necessarily quoted but understood and adapted by me for your reading and consideration.
Covid-19 has place us in a place where we are navigating uncharted waters. It is a time of challenge, disruption, uncertainty, disorientation and deep tragedy for some.
One thing is becoming clearer: we are all in this together. We are undeniably interconnected. When any of us are vulnerable, all of us are vulnerable. We are all at risk.
The people who are most vulnerable all the time are even more vulnerable now. In our privilege we need to identify the opportunities that are present to us and step into our courage and integrity and reach out to the vulnerable who need us the most right now.
I hope, with courage, wisdom, and community, we might together turn toward ways of being in the world that lead to healing, restoration, and the wholeness for ourselves, for all the people and communities, and for our planet.
Please consider what you can do to help in this time of Covid-19. I assume you may not be meeting (as communities of faith) but this action will never be too late!
Lorraine Harkness, on behalf of the Board and Staff of ICM