The House of Lazarus held its Annual General Meeting via Zoom on June 14.
In the Land Acknowledgement to recognize the original Indigenous nations, at the beginning of the meeting, Reverend Dan Hayward spoke of reconciliation, referenced the 1986 apology from the United Church, and said, “the church had confused the gospel with European ways.”
The House of Lazarus is a United Church Mission, and as such, began with a prayer by Reverend Christine Lowson of the Winchester and Hope Springs United Church.
Mark van Delst, as the HOL Board Chair, encouraged anyone interested to join the HOL Board, or to volunteer in any capacity. There is always room for more help. There are currently ten members on the Board.
COVID-19 has been a challenge for HOL and all its programs. HOL closed its stores to donations and purchases with the first wave of the pandemic. Staff were laid off, income from their stores stopped, and many of their in-person programs had to be put on hold. Programs offering meals in-person, such as Lunch & Learn and Dinner on the House, ceased.
The year has been very difficult for staff, volunteers, and clients of HOL. With sales down, and in-person fundraisers difficult to organize, the HOL worked very hard to access grants. The Board acknowledged the great amount of work of the HOL staff in identifying, applying for and accessing grants.
The community supported HOL exceptionally well. The Board, staff, and volunteers were amazed and moved by the level of community support throughout the pandemic. The community itself, through service organizations, fundraising such as Giving Tuesday, and individuals, donated $50K more than the previous year. Donations of household goods and clothing overwhelmed staff after the first lockdown. The Lions Club of Morrisburg donated HOL two tents to help protect donations for sorting.
The HOL Food Bank Member Programs supported 240 families, or 641 people: 38% of those are children and 6% seniors. 24% of Food Bank clients are new. There were fewer clients but they needed more food. The Community Garden managed to produce a whopping 1036 pounds of produce. This is exceptionally important as food bank donations are often non-perishable goods.
Other HOL programs included 94 Adopt a Family, 27 Adopt a Senior, and 44 Adopt a Couple. Medical supplies and school supplies were provided. The Clothing Program provided 398 adults with clothing vouchers, and 217 children. The Household Goods Program provided 57 Adults with vouchers, 64 children, and 166 families. 203 Crockpot Cuisine kits were given out with 6 crockpots.
The HOL Outreach Programs that went ahead this year included Heat for the Holidays that helped 38 families. Neighbours Helping Neighbours assisted 18 families, and Handyman Heroes 3 families. Starting Over program helped 12 adults and 4 children. 2 Adults were helped out through the Back to Work program.
Operation Backpack served 168 children with 5632 backpacks providing meals and snacks.
HOL has a Youth Hunting program, whereby youth can take the Hunting Safety Course. This year, 10 youth benefitted from that. Restrictions were placed on numbers in attendance because of the pandemic.
Grants formed a huge part of the funding for HOL for this past year. HOL received over $225K in grants, from sources such as: Reaching Home – United Way Simcoe & Muskoka, and United Way SDG; Winter Warmth – United Way SDG; Social Services Relief Fund from the Provincial government; Food Banks Canada from the Federal Government $150 million Campaign; Rural Kids Grant – Newman’s Own & Feed Ontario; Landlord Registry & Advocate Training – United Way SDG; and UCLC School Nutrition Program.
Grants covered needs such as rent, hydro, and heat relief for people impacted by the pandemic.
Janet Carkner, Assistant Executive Director, is retiring after 15 years with HOL. There was a photo montage, and many tears! She will be missed.
She says she has really enjoyed it, and will miss the people. Janet gave flowers to Cathy Ashby, Executive Director, just because it was a really hard year.
The Board, staff, and volunteers at HOL have indeed had a very challenging year, including laying off 75% of the HOL team three times.