“I Have Always Found a Friend in Music”

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Today we have a post by Martin and Ashley W from the Men’s Hostel sharing details of a recent event organized by staff and residents

“One of the marvellous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.  When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing” Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

Charles St. Men’s hostel held its third open mic night at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Thursday August 28th.  The open mic began with a vision to bring people together to share their talents and build a sense of community. We hoped to enact, in a very obvious and practical way, the more abstract HOF value of inclusion, which states that “We believe everyone has a seat at the table.” So we set up tables–thanks for the tables, St. Andrews!–and got to barbecuing, making sure we had enough food and seats for everyone from the community who wanted to eat, or sit and take in the festivities.

Residents from the Hostel and community volunteers were there to assist with food prep and serving.  It was a wonderful experience to see people coming together to help each other and make a contribution even in times of personal struggle.  We were grateful to walk beside these volunteers and participants during this experience and work in partnership as peers in bringing fun and sense of belonging to the community.

Once bodies were nourished, we started the soul-enriching work of making and listening to music.

Guests and participants of all ages came from House of Friendship programs and the community to share.  Over 125 people joined us at St Andrews to enjoy the local talent.  A fantastic local band including a resident of one House of Friendship’s programs volunteered to play for the event. They started off the evening setting the musical mood as one of relaxation and fun.  As the meal came to an end the floor was opened up for anyone to participate in sharing their talents and all in attendance were lucky enough to enjoy some of the talent from our supportive housing residents who brought the church to fits of laughter with their creative jokes and some singing.

The band was excellent in making everyone feel a sense of belonging. In one beautiful and improvised moment, they extended the hand of friendship to a resident who felt inspired to contribute a vocal solo, by using their instrumental talents to compliment his vocals and even including some back-up vocals. And in that moment the delicate joy that happens through shared music sat around us all.

All in all it was a wonderful night and we were inspired by the level of commitment, dedication, and involvement by participants of House of Friendship programming in the prep and running of this community event.  We really could not have done this without the generous assistance of the people we serve and are grateful to be able to work for an organization which encourages such a sense of community. We would finally like to thank St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for making this event possible by allowing us to use their space and graciously being available to help with set up.  We would also like to thank everyone who volunteered or assisted in any way and everyone who simply came to enjoy the event and be with us in this time of sharing and community building.

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