Contributed by Victoria Hadden — When the world drastically changed recently, members of the Aberdeen Avenue Residents’ Group (AARG) stepped up to help a local shelter‘s food program through this difficult time of increased need.
It all started with the Covid-19 pandemic when Aberdeen resident Michael Guenther found himself with time on his hands when his hospitality job at Biff’s Bistro was put on hold. He mentioned to his old friend David Reycraft, Director of Dixon Hall’s Housing Services if he could use some help. David connected him with Jennifer Moxon, Dixon Hall’s Manager of Community Development and also Pablo Escobar, Manager of Community Supports whose food programs were experiencing an upsurge in the community.
Michael took on the Tuesday hot lunch program for 50 people at their Darling Lane outreach and extended his volunteering to take on the Wednesday outreach program at 58 Sumach. Dixon Hall serves thousands of homeless and precariously-housed, those facing food security challenges, low-income individuals, seniors, children & youth, people seeking employment, and newcomers.
Michael thought, “I’ll see what my neighbours can do to help.”
To get the word out to his neighbours, Michael contacted Victoria Hadden who heads the Aberdeen Avenue Residents’ Group and maintains their Facebook presence, a confidential email and telephone list for Aberdeen residents. Through these means of communication, the Aberdeen Avenue Sandwich Group for Dixon Hall was born.
A core Aberdeen group organizes sandwich making on a rotating basis and members participate when they can. Each sandwich donor makes 10-15 sandwiches, sometimes more and Michael himself fills in the gaps with delicious home-baked cookies. “We are so incredibly grateful for the weekly donations and are so impressed with the quality, creativity and variety AARG is providing’, said Jennifer Moxon.
Michael picks up sandwiches every Wednesday outside 43 Aberdeen and delivers them to the shelter on Sumach or Dixon Hall’s outreach at 51 Wyatt Avenue which supports the children and youth program – “we go wherever they need us,” said Michael. He has also conscripted his friend Alexander Chapman to help him carry the large bags of food to the shelter, and says they both enjoy the afternoon walk.
Special thanks go out to AARG members Cathryn MacFarlane and Paul Scott, Sally and Strachan Bongard, Ann and Colin Lambert, Aileen Lim and Makoto Trotter, Jennifer and Ian Robinson, Reeta Roy, Christina Robinson and Gerry Plasman.
“We’ve been so grateful for this wonderful support. I can’t even tell you how this group effort has buoyed the spirits of staff, volunteers and clients alike. Thank you again,” said Laura Stenberg, Dixon Hall’s Director of Philanthropy & Communications.
Dixon Hall serves more than 10,000 in the city through a range of programs and services, endeavouring to create lasting solutions to end poverty, social injustices, and isolation in the city. Their 200 plus staff rely on the support of more than 1,500 volunteers like Michael and AARG to keep programs and services running.
If you wish to help out the Aberdeen Avenue Sandwich Group at Dixon Hall, kindly contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 204-295-635