Volunteer opportunities at 6 St. Joseph and Yellow Door
Seeds of Hope Foundation has a 12-year history of operating two resource centres and five other housing projects that work to stop the ‘Revolving Door’ of homelessness with individuals moving from the street to police arrest to hospitalization and back to the street. Our main focus has been to create ‘centres of friendship’ that are safe places where individuals who are at a crossroads in their lives can support one another. People can be at a crossroads in their lives for many reasons, including recovery from addiction or mental health challenges, unemployment or just unfortunate circumstances.
The doors of 6 St. Joseph are open as often as possible. Friends of 6 St. Joseph and participants in the Yellow Door Learning Centre. It is important that our guests and members are aware of how they can engage with 6 St. Joseph and also that our ambiance of mutual respect is maintained. This position may include other basic duties such as making sure the coffee and teas are available plants are watered. This position is available in 2-3 hours shifts during the week. The volunteer can take one or more of theses shifts and the shift times can be at flexible times during the week.
Unlikely & Mutually Beneficial Friendships
6 St Joseph House is in a unique position because of the trust it builds with individuals in need of help. They find hospitality and meet others on a similar journey to find income, housing and food; but the challenge is to find friends who can accompany individuals to access community resources and get help they need. Our empowering friendship model that instills dignity and trust is often the catalyst necessary to allow people the space to make positive decisions to access resources & help so they can make change that will have a lasting effect. This position involves just spending time at our community café’s or Yellow Door Learning Centre courses and connecting with someone you meet. You would then begin an informal and mutually convenient process of getting to know one another. There will be weekly training workshops available for people engaging in this process of building relationship.
Special Event Help
6 St. Joseph hosts seasonal celebrations, monthly ‘open mic’ music events and is open on most major holidays including Christmas Day. These events range from very informal to highly organized and promoted. Extra help is required to help plan and execute these very important events to our community. This position would may include being part of the planning team, helping cook or bring food, decorating, helping set-up, serve and clean-up at event.Currently we are looking for help for volunteers to cook and carve a turkey and bring it to our Christmas party on the 19th of December. We are also looking for people to bring bake goods for that day as well as on an on-going basis for our Community Café.
General Building Maintenance
6 St. Joseph is a 60-year-old building that although in good condition has many aspects of upkeep that is necessary. There is also sometimes things that need to be repaired or contractors to supervise. General Cleaning and maintenance is also something required, this includes organizing garbage collection, basic cleaning and grounds keeping.
There are many opportunities to participate in our main programmes such as our Community Cafe where we need weekly help in helping prepare, serve and clean during our Community Café times. There are other opportunities such as supervising the Meditation Room or support for our many Yellow Door Learning Centre courses. Involvement would need to be discuss to suit needs.
This position involves picking up donations, dropping off donations and helping those in our community that are unable to get around on their own easily. This task could be done when you are available and a time convenient to you. This would likely involve being called on once a week for this greatly needed help.
This position involves helping in organizing the food and clothing donations as well as general organization throughout building that may include, utensils, books, cloths, tools and furniture. This position could be done once a week and you could choose your time convenient and also your choice in what you would prefer to organize.
There are opportunities in admin and bookkeeping that are available this position would require more regular attendance and commitment. Positions available would depend on your specific experience and skills.
Last but certainly not least we are always looking for people to help in varying capacities in fundraising. Seeds of Hope do not receive government funding and is dependent on individuals and private foundations for core funding. This may include strategy workshops; grant writing, looking for leads, answering proposals, marketing & communications help.
A ‘community model’ to complement traditional ‘medical/institutional models’
6 St Joseph House operates as an 'open space learning centres’ space where programs are offered at no charge – known as the ‘Yellow Door Learning Centre’. Many of our facilitators are volunteers who themselves have struggled with mental illness. These people and others provide over 40 art & wellness courses at our learning centre at 6 St Joseph House. One participant at the ‘Gratitude workshop’ says, “I thank the Creator every day.” Another at the table, a man with a humble demeanour and slight build, quickly adds: “If we receive gratitude the right way, we can receive even more”.
Our 5 housing projects operate ‘off the grid’ from normal social housing projects making it possible for us to respond quickly to specific needs of individuals asking for help.
Our new ’First Step’ home builds on our existing work by developing a ‘best practices’ model for other communities. It is an effective peer-based model that is relatively low cost and can transition individuals who have become homeless due to mental health and/or addiction challenges. This model has enabled Seeds of Hope to be responsive to community needs and to operate without government funding.
This initiative will demonstrate how the benefits of a ‘community model’ can complement traditional ‘medical/institutional models’. This model has been pioneered by Seeds of Hope Foundation in its past projects and is expanding with Rotary support. At our existing houses, residents take an active role in managing the houses and each person contributes to the operation of their house. As residents regain their health they will have the opportunity to connect with a wider community and participate in meals, life-skills programs & creative arts activities that are offered at our Seeds of Hope centres and through our ‘Passport to Health’ partnership with five other centres.
Our work builds on the research of John McKnight, a professor of Social Policy at Northwestern University in Chicago who is a frequent visitor to Toronto. McKnight centres his work on the search for ‘the genius of local communities’. … he says that there is a relentless struggle between system (institutional) ways and associational (community) ways, and “what we have seen in our time is the ascendance of systems over associations; and we see how the systems of service colonize your life and my life.”
Friendship, says McKnight, is really the key for people to make real change in their lives; and developing friendships and relationships is what grounds us to the community and makes us feel accepted and belong..…it is important to remember that this is not another service world that we’re developing. What we are developing are friendships and hospitality, and you’re not paid for those things. They come through connecting people with other people. And so these community initiatives keep paid staff down to a minimum.”
McKnight states: "we are only at the beginning of exploring the possibility of a new vision for community. It is a vision of regeneration. It is a vision of re-associating the exiled. It is a vision of centring our lives more in community."