I remember decades ago when my now husband and I used to drive by Rosedale Blvd. and Bayview Ave. on our way home from the University of Toronto. We got to know some of the homeless community that used to live in the small forested area there. My husband would sometimes park his car a little ways off from the intersection, and sit with the guys and chat with them. They brought him up to their "home" in the woods,
showing him their makeshift tents, their cooking station, and all their worldly possessions in a bag. "It's safer here than getting my stuff stolen at the shelter," they would tell him. By the roadside, car after car would stop at the traffic lights. Some drivers would open their windows and spare some change, others would throw garbage at them, spit on them, and some would yell "get a job," as well as other profanities. At the end of my final school year, one of the ladies in that community anticipated my coming and, when I stopped my car by the roadside, she handed me a bouquet of flowers, and said, "Thank you for everything you've done and given to us."
I'm not trying to toot my own horn - this is a memory that has not come to mind in a very long time. It has been more than two decades. Recently, one of Sparrow & Co.'s charity partners recommended a book for me to read if I wanted to have a more accurate picture of the kinds of people they serve and care for on a regular basis. I finished the book a week ago and it has forced me to think about what I had forgotten. It has brought to surface the importance of generosity, not just financially, but the kind that gives from one heart and fills another. The kind of generosity that is life-giving and transformative, forcing us to face the truth that we are all part of the problem if we are not part of the solution.
Sometimes we hold back from doing anything about the problem of poverty because we don't think that we can. Maybe some of us hold back because we think that what we do won't make a difference anyway. But the truth is that there are people out there working on the small pieces of the puzzle. They move on a spark that inspired them to make a difference where they were. Some of them address physical and/or mental health issues or addiction, some offer a safe place to stay, a hot meal to eat, a place to pick up free food, clothing, or supplies. Some play the role of articulating the mission or vision they have, others do the organizing. Some begin, some implement, and some execute. All the "somes" put together amongst hundreds of thousands of people in our cities, and it seems to me that it is actually quite easy to be part of the solution.
Sparrow & Co. ended our first year giving a whopping $250 to a local charity. Let's be honest, we were sheepish about our donation, but it was literally everything we had. Year by year, no matter how much or how little money, land, equipment, resources, or people we had, we kept one foot in front of the other and decided to keep going forward no matter what. In the year 2020 we even lost our land and didn't have farmland for the whole season. Yet somehow, we still farmed and gave of our time and energy to feed as many people in poverty as we could. Sometimes it seems so simple to me. Last year we were inspired to coin the phrase, "YOU EAT, THEY EAT. WITH US, IT'S THAT SIMPLE." because if you purchase products from Sparrow Gardens, you are also funding the work we do to provide our farm fresh foods to local community food programs. The bottomline is, whether you feel moved to be part of this puzzle or not, we will still be here doing the work. So join us to help the M.I.N.D. program, Master's Pantry, and The Salvation Army's Hope on Wheels program to feed the hungry in our midst.
And if while enjoying your veggie share this year, you forget the reason why you became a Sparrow supporter, don't worry. We will be here to remind you and say on behalf of everyone we serve and the charities we uphold: "Thank you for everything you've done and given to us."