• 1JustCity

Planting a Seed

I am still relatively new to Winnipeg having only moved here three years ago. I never volunteered in this city so when COVID-19 broke out I thought hey, why not do something to give back to the community I’m beginning to love? Within my first day at 1JustCity I knew I’d be learning a lot and I was confident I was in the right place! It wasn’t like any traditional work environment I was accustom to; I was granted freedom to do things the way I thought would be best, my ideas and opinions were taken seriously, and any person who walked through the door was given immediate respect. I felt like I was working with people who not only wanted to be there, but actually loved their work!

If there is one thing I learned from my time at 1JustCity it is that people really want to be seen and heard. They want to talk to you and tell you about their day or their job or something they read in the paper. It’s a sign of respect to sit and listen to exactly what someone wants to tell you. Community members come to us looking for lunch or emergency food, but they also come to us because they feel seen when we ask how they are feeling. They feel heard when we are able to give them diapers, hygiene, or any assistance we can offer that day. 1JustCity strives to listen to each person who walks through the door whether that takes half an hour or 30seconds.

There are sides of Winnipeg that many people are either blind too or choose to ignore, but at 1JustCity we know that those we tend to overlook need the most attention.

My favorite day volunteering at 1JustCity also happened to be my last day. We were having the first community BBQ of the summer­­-which everyone had been patiently waiting for. It was a completely different feeling that day not only because I was leaving but also because the vibe in the air felt busy and particularly joyous! We spent the morning wheeling food, water and all the needed supplies to the community garden that was just starting to bloom. I loved to see so many different people from the neighborhood interacting in one space: the kind men grilling the food were from the local Food Fare. Many new and regular community members came to get a burger, a freezee and have a chat. Someone from a house across the street to the garden stopped by to tell us that they enjoyed seeing everyone safely socializing in such positive light.

It was beautiful to experience to new kind of day where something so traditional as a BBQ lifted all of our spirits. I’m grateful I got to see at least one community BBQ because I think they are a nice break from the normal routine. We can all appreciate a break in routine these days.

- Written by Grace Gyolai Summer Intern at St. Matthews Maryland Community Ministry