Saturday, 1 April 2017

April 2, 2017

Hi Vacationing Volunteers,

There's always a pang of regret as we send off our guests after their last OOTC meal of the season. If only we could keep on cooking and just send their meals by Just Eat food delivery; however, it couldn't come close to the personal deliveries you have so generously accomplished. That's just one of the reasons you need to attend The Volunteer Appreciation Night Dinner, Thurs. April 20th, flyer attached.  Please RSVP ASAP to Norma or

We have the greatest respect and appreciation for three wonderful people: Norma, our coordinator of volunteers who along with Mark sticks around to the shiny and tidied end every Tuesday night, and to Peter, retired from the Hamilton Police Department, our security person who has kept us all in check, welcoming everyone who comes to our little dinner parties.
We wish to thank Christ’s Church Cathedral for their hospitality and kindness for taking in 60 volunteers who had nowhere else to go. Because OOTC is there Saturday (shout out to Sherry and her gang for allowing us to share) and Tuesdays, our 1,956 guests put a lot of wear and tear on that good church of theirs and that’s why we are so doubly grateful.

Did you RSVP yet?  Thanks. Now, put your feet up and enjoy the article Best of Jewish Hamilton: Out of the Cold in the Passover edition of The Hamilton Jewish News.  It's quite the cherry on the top of our 17th Season.

In all seriousness, it's shameful that in Hamilton, a privileged city, there is such a high rate of poverty.  This message has been repeated over and over again for so long. However, two important events will take place this week. City Council will vote on $50 million for the repair of unused housing units, housing allowances, shelter diversion strategies, indigenous-led strategies for poverty and homelessness, “wraparound” help for single parents with everything from child health to employment to recreation programs and finally, for nurse-family partnerships. Also, this week's 3-day conference “Cities Reducing Poverty When Business is Engaged” takes place in Hamilton. It will demonstrate how businesses of all sizes can engage in addressing poverty — through inclusive hiring practices, living wages and more.  Oh, how we pray for their success.

So to all of you who took on this task and gave their time and energy with selfless desire, thank you. Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter, Happy Spring and Summer; see you in the Fall.  And as it is written on our menu board each week, “ENJOY!”


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

March 22, 2017

Shhhhh..... don't tell anyone. We may have exceeded the number of persons allowed in Christ's Church Cathedral's hall.

The number of guests just kept on climbing and seemed stuck for a while on a Gretzky (our way of saying #n-n,) but then Rob arrived, balloons fell from the ceiling (only kidding), followed by our Russian friend, Rasputin, (not really his name) who took us right to (Roman) CI.  Interestingly, in life, it’s natural to ask, “How many people did you feed?” “What’s the final number for the wedding?” “How many fans for the game?” However, in Jewish practice, there’s a prohibition on counting Jews. Many sources can be cited for this practice; I like these three.

When the Jews escaped from Egypt and began their journey through the desert to the Land of Israel, G‑d requested that a census be carried out, but not in the conventional way. G‑d commanded each person to give a half of the ancient shekel coin in a nationwide collection, following which Moses would count the coins and know how many Jews there were.

The number of children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which shall neither be measured nor counted. Hosea 2:1

This prohibition emphasizes the uniqueness of each human being. A person’s unique qualities can never be reduced to some numerical quantity.

As we get set to end our 2016/2017 season next Tuesday, you have mentioned that, ever since we survived the January St Mary’s flood and moved to CCC’s smaller hall, it was a shame that, overall, we fed fewer guests. It saddens us deeply to think that many of our regulars were hesitant to move with us to an overcrowded replacement site. However, we must understand that it would have been physically challenging and/or psychologically distressing to some. Each individual is sacred; each person’s hunger is inimitable. We did our best and we know that it made a difference. THAT is something we can all count on.

More about last night. We usually serve dinner at 5 pm but Peter, our security man, showed us who's the boss, and said that we'd better empty the ovens at 4:50 before 'things' got out of hand.

Food is love and the romance was on for the sweet potato & lentil soup, meatloaf, chickpea/veg/couscous salad, coleslaw, pasta and fruit proving once again that the cooks have more than time on their hands, passion in their hearts and the needs of others on their minds!

Finally, some friendly reminders with flyers attached:
This Saturday night, the fundraising concert for OOTC at Erskine Presbyterian.
The Annual Volunteer Dinner – Thurs. April 20 – RSVP by March 31 – please come; you'll be the best of the approximately 15 x Chai in attendance!


Sunday, 12 March 2017

March 12, 2017

Chag Sameach!!

Hope your Purim is awesome.  This update covers the whole megillah!  Ugh. So many updates, invitations, announcements.

Thanks to the B'nei mitzvah classes from Beth Jacob Synagogue and Temple Anshe Sholom. There has never been better assembled Purim mishloach manot and bags of toiletries, ever! After he described himself as a hellion when he was their age, our dinner guest Ralph gave the students personal insights of the importance of OOTC on his life. It allows him to save money to purchase other important things like a new pair of pants and running shoes. It helped him to handle social situations as well as connecting him with very nice people, US, and delicious and nutritious meals are consistently offered by our friendly and generous group.

The upcoming Hamilton Jewish News' centre spread will feature our Tuesday OOTC program in its Passover issue. Thank you to editor/reporter, Wendy Schneider, who interviewed so many of our guests and volunteers early in the season. She was so impressed that she became one of our team.
Attached, you're invited to:

1. The Annual Concert for Hamilton Out of the Cold – called "Singing for Supper" - Friday, March 25, 7:30pm at Wednesday's site, Erskine Presbyterian Church. $10 (kids free)  Nikki and Shaun (professional singer and musician) put a tremendous amount of effort into putting the concert together and all proceeds go to OOTC.

2. The VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION DINNER - Thursday, April 20 at a new OOTC site, St Nicholas. Please RSVP to Norma or myself no later than March 31st.

An old friend, Simon, returned to Hamilton and found us at our temporary location. "I'll never forget how when I lived at the Y, you would allow me to have breakfast at James St Baptist, and you'd bring me the newspaper too."

I forgot to show you the Hanukkah message from a table of guests, see attached.

Feeling silly yet? Here's help:

Q: What did Adam tell his kids as to why he no longer lived in Eden?
A:  Your mother ate us out of house and home.

Q:  The ark was built in 3 stories and the top story had a window to let light in, but how did they get light to the bottom 2 stories?
A:  They used flood lights.

Q: Why was Goliath so surprised when David hit him with a slingshot?
A: The thought had never entered his head before.

Finally, my family has a yahrzeit tonight and tomorrow night at 6 pm. If you're around Rabbi Hillel's, 71 MacDonald, tonight and the BJ tomorrow night, that's where minyan and hamantashen will be!
Chag Purim Sameach


Thursday, 23 February 2017

February 23, 2017

Hi ladies and gentlemen,

We've had a first! Well, actually, at least a few firsts for us since we moved over to Christ's Church Cathedral.

My emailed grocery list to Tuesday's 'shopper' went awry, so we arrived with recipes but no food.  (Happily, Food Basics is just down the street.)

All the eggs that were cracked for the meatloaf contained twins. Oy, the cholesterol count !

Our guests numbered over 100 (100 exactly.) There was not a drop, crumb, or empty appetite left anywhere of all the pea soup, meatloaf with mushroom sauce, hot veggies, pasta and bananas!

The warm temperatures this week are setting records. Don't dial back your warmth:guest ratio. They can handle it!

So, not sure if a 'shehechiyanu' is warranted, but go ahead, you deserve it!


February 15, 2017

Hi all

Everything was delicious!! soup to desserts.  One of the 80 guests who hadn't been with us for a few weeks declared, "I just remembered how much I appreciate you guys. There's no place like this OOTC."  Sweet Potato & Red Lentil soup, Southern Fried Chicken, Lasagne, Salad, Brownies with Valentine icing, and their choice of a box of chocolate covered almonds or a Caramilk bar, full-size not those teaser Halloweeners!

After we closed up, I took a homeless man shopping at Giant Tiger. Gotta say, for 8 or 9 years, off and on, Johnny has been around to entertain us with his Kansas City, MI accent, further affected by his alcohol infused breath,  6'5 frame, and flamboyant personality. Bought a comforter and shams with pics of wolves, a pillow, stretch pants for layering and four pairs of thermal socks. We both agreed that dusty rose is a G-d awful colour on any skintone and that G.T. is the bomb!  He was going to 'sleep' next to our CCC which is his parish. Derek, the building manager has granted him permission.  He was afraid of the cold but more fearful if a drunk would come along and beat him up. In the morning, Johnny would hop on a SOBI bike to the Wesley Centre where he'd grab a delicious OOTC breakfast. Did you know that low-income people can grab a bike for free with just a slight time restriction!  All in all, Johnny Rotten (his name for himself)  just can't behave!!!! Banned from the shelters for 2 weeks.  Our shopping spree was not at all awkward but I did ask him if he thought that his life might turn around with some help.  He looked me in the eye, and the for the first time ever, with a serious wide-eyed stare, he said, "Why would I ever set myself up for failure again?" Now, I'm used to people answering my questions with a question. After all, I am Jewish.  But it doesn't make Johnny's future rosy, not even dusty-rosy.

Questions for the cooks:  Who would like to  grocery shop for next week, or the week after?

Comments for everyone:  the daycare that occupies the kitchen really really needs us to avoid using their property unless it is put back perfectly. If you're one of our final shift members, please ask if you're unsure of an item or it's resting place.   Every crumb must be cleaned, every garbage/green bin/blue bin bag put out.  Her job and licence depends on us and her work day is made more difficult when she has to search for things or clean before she begins her day.  Sorry. It's reasonable and she requests all of this with respect and patience and believes in our cause very much.

Finally, thanks for making everyone's Valentines Day very sweet with your positive attitudes, smiles and acceptance.


Monday, 16 January 2017

January 16, 2017

More great news! With a little more discussion and coordination, we're now able to open at Christ's Church Cathedral at 4 pm ! 4 pm 4 pm!! Do arrive a little earlier for your shifts, only if possible! Are you as excited as I am? Cindy

Sunday, 15 January 2017

January 15, 2017

Shavuah Tov, literally in Hebrew, "Good Week" or "Have a good week!"

So first, let's recognize that starting this week in the Torah, we begin to read from the Book of Exodus. Nice foreshadowing, God!  

We're on the move starting this Tuesday. The extent of the damage resulting from the flooding at St Mary's was not minimal. We can only hope that their space is quickly restored and their wonderful, active and hospitable community can once again gather in their glorious space.

In the meantime, Christ Church Cathedral has generously offered us temporary space. CCC has been an OOTC host church on Saturday nights for a number of years. When approached for help, The Very Rev. Peter Wall did not hesitate to do a kindness for us, for our guests, and for God. Chesed v'emet. Love/Kindness and Truth. It's quite a turn for us, a group that does good, to be treated with such faithful kindness. We are so very grateful.

Their address is 252 James Street North, just north of the Armouries. If driving, please park in the back lot accessible from Hughson St., or find street parking. From the lot, walk along the pathway between the playground and main church building. Straight ahead there's a lovely old door. Press the white buttoned doorbell for entry. Once inside, keep turning right until you are met by security and/or find the parish hall :) Particularly at night, please pay attention to your surroundings at all times, buddy up, if possible and leave personal belongings at home. 

In order to accommodate the families leaving from the on-site daycare and the arrival of our guests, we will open for our guests at 5 pm. There will not be a soup course - at least not for now, just straight into a delicious main course. The parish hall is much smaller than that of St. Mary's with a seating capacity of 80, therefore, patiently waiting guests will be seated (once they tip the maitre d', or) after first-comers have eaten and left. If your shift usually starts just before 4 pm, please arrive instead at 4:15 for an orientation.  Some of us shadowed CCC's OOTC cooks/setting up/serving/clean up teams today. We're now equipped with their experience and, with our usual humour and countless personal opinions of the Jewish kind, we'll do just fine!!!

See you on Tuesday.