As a social work student my passion is providing for and supporting our city’s vulnerable population. Working at 1Just City and overseeing the drop-in space has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I have met some of the most resilient people, and getting to know them more and more each day makes my job all the better.
When Covid-19 hit Winnipeg a large majority of us working folk were lucky enough to stay at home with our loved ones, but for a lot of the people we serve at 1Just City this was not the case. Many of the folks we serve struggle with barriers, whether it be with housing insecurity, food insecurity, physical/mental health issues, etc. For a majority of these folk’s quarantine was a terrible experience. Shelters limited their capacities leaving some homeless people out on the streets, and food banks and emergency food sources were limited or closed. It was rough for sure, but now that our drop-in is open again we are able to provide sit down meals where the community can enjoy one another’s company again.
When our drop-in opened a few weeks ago I was not entirely sure what to expect. The first two weeks were quiet and we did not have many people drop in. Now however, we serve upwards of 60 people a day including the elderly, teenagers, children and their wonderful families. All in all, the drop-in is a safe space for our community where everyone and anyone is welcome. I was not around before Covid when the old drop-in was in the kitchen, but I have heard from a few folks that the new space is just as warm and enjoyable to be in.
One thing I truly enjoy about working in the drop-in is how each day is different. Different people, different conversations and different connections. My days are often similar in preparation however, I start out by making lunch which differs each week depending on the types of food we’ve ordered. Setting up the drop-in is the most time consuming for sure. In order to ensure social distancing, we have a maximum capacity of 20 persons at a time in the space and each table and chair are separated 6 feet apart. The rest of the afternoon consists of handing out lunch, making coffee and enjoying our time together. In between coming and going of folks each table and chair gets sprayed and wiped down, as well as at the end of the day before we put everything away.
I thoroughly enjoy my job in the drop-in. When my summer placement is complete I hope to volunteer a few times in-between my schooling because I will miss the community too much not to. As for right now with Covid cases on the rise, our drop-in may begin to change and adapt based on the needs and safety of everyone, but as long as we are allowed to be open we will be.
Sara Delorme - Drop-in Supervisor at STMMCM