We cannot say Thank You enough. On June 11th we had three groups come and help us out through United Way’s Day of Caring. We are so honoured to have Saskatchewan Blue Cross come and transform two spaces for our staff, our staff room and outdoor patio area. They managed to create wonderful, calming spaces for our staff to refresh and relax during breaks. SIGA came in and transformed our classroom. They were here bright and early to start painting the room and to replace the flooring. They created a bright welcoming space for groups that come into our building. SaskTel sponoured our community BBQ. They jumped right into action and joined our kitchen in preparing the meal and served the meal for our guest. We had a blast wathcing the spaces transform and hearing all of the laughter throughout the building. We look forward to next year’s Day of Caring.
Yesterday was a rough day at the Inn, the staff team received some bad news and still had to continue to work through a very busy day. We usually see the number of meals served grow and decline in a predictable way as paydays come and go, but even though Wednesday was quieter, Thursday was busy again with about 800 meals served. As the end of the day approached, and the staff team was preparing for an emergency meeting, we felt the support of the family of guests who expressed their concern throughout the day, but significantly we also felt supported by the community through the volunteers and fine option workers who happened to the be the ones working alongside the staff. A group of high school students worked hard with us and expressed their empathy. The people working off fines and community service stepped up to do the jobs they had been learning happen every day. Most of all, the team of volunteers who came from Shaw Cable for their monthly volunteering went above and beyond to help us get cleaned up after the long day. They came in their blue Shaw shirts, helped in the busy dining room throughout lunch and then stayed longer that required to sweep and mop, freeing up the staff for our meeting so we could deal with our family business.
Thank you so much Shaw team and all the volunteers for being family to us when those who help needed support!
As I approach the beginning of my maternity leave, I’ve been reflecting back on the past year and a half of working with volunteers at the Friendship Inn. I have been so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a great community of supporters, staff and guests at the Friendship Inn.
One thing that struck me early in my time as the volunteer coordinator, and continues to encourage me, is that the support for the Friendship Inn comes from all across the city of Saskatoon, into the surrounding area and even all around the province. These days I find myself driving around the city and everywhere I see business names on the side of a building who have come to volunteer, or sponsored a meal or sponsored a day at the Inn.
I run into people regularly who know me from coming to volunteer. Even the nurse who taught my prenatal class had recently been to the Inn as a parent chaperone of her son’s class when they were volunteering. Now, because of spending time at the Inn, when I connect with new places and people around the city of Saskatoon, I think of the generosity of so many individuals and businesses. I love seeing this side of the city. It shows that so many people in our community know that to be a healthy community, together we need to make sure there is support for those in crisis, the most vulnerable in our community.
After all, the Friendship Inn is a place of second chances. Much of the food we serve is donations of food that would have been thrown away – from day old bread & cupcakes, to leftovers from big parties, to fresh vegetables about to go bad that still have nutritional value if eaten today.
The second chances extend to the staff, too. Many of our small kitchen and floor staff have been given a chance to work when other job opportunities may not have been offered. They have stepped up into the role of helping feed the guests of the Friendship Inn because they recognize the journey of many guests. They themselves have been on the other side of the serving line.
Even the guests are offered the dignity of second (or third or fourth) chances. The no-questions-asked policy to receive a meal at the Inn comes with expectations of civil behaviour in the dining room. Yet even when someone is having a bad day and is asked to leave, the staff know that this is rarely the end of the story. Guests who have been asked to leave, often come back another day, apologize for their behaviour and are restored to the friendship offered at the Inn. Each day, more than just food is offered and received inside these four walls.
I have been so grateful for this community of people, and even though I am going on maternity leave, I will pop by from time to time to chat with friends among the staff, volunteers and guests!
Pool Our Love is a partnership initiative between the Saskatoon Friendship Inn, the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. For the Pool Our Love program, the students and staff of the schools around Saskatoon collect food items for the Friendship Inn each year. It is called Pool Our Love because each school collects the food is a small paddling pool – usually these pools are overflowing with donations.
Pool Our Love is a unique food drive since we ask each school to focus on just one particular food staple that the Friendship Inn uses all the time. This targeted collection of foods like rice, pasta, pancake mix and sugar has made a huge impact on the need for the Inn to buy groceries to fill the gap between food donations and our needs.
In the 2014-2015 school year, the Pool Our Love campaign collected 2509 food items, that is over 2200kg of food valued at about $7500.
- 628 kg of rice was donated, that is about 14,000 servings of rice
- 397 kg of oatmeal was donated, that is about 18,000 servings of oatmeal
- 242 kg of pancake mix, and 93 L of syrup, that’s enough for 9700 servings of pancakes, a weekly treat at the Inn.
- 74 kg of coffee was donated, that enough to make 124,000 cups of coffee. We serve up to 1000 cups of coffee a day, so this donation will keep us serving coffee for at least 5 months.
- 647 kg of sugar, that enough for people to put sugar in about 65,000 cups of coffee
- 100 jars of jam, that’s 61 L of jam, enough for over 3000 pieces of toast.
If your school would like to participate in the 2015/2016 Pool Our Love campaign, contact the Volunteer and Event Coordinator at 306-242-5122.
Thank you to all of our 2015 Fill the Plate sponsors! We are so grateful for the support of the community to keep the Friendship Inn running. Please watch this video of all the thank yous that went out on social media to our daily sponsors.