For all of our events Riverside businesses feel it is important to support our local charities. For Light up the Riverside on Nov 30th our local Charity is Mustard Seed/ Sisters of St. Joseph and Fontbonne Place. Read on to learn more about these dedicated organizations.
SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH began in 1651 in southern France to serve the needy. The order has spread throughout the world. 4 Sisters of 4 different nationalities came to Canada in 1851 (via the U.S.) to care for victims of the Irish famine: orphans and the sick in fever sheds They went on to establish hospitals, schools, homes for the needy, addiction treatment in Toronto and across Canada, plus third–world missions.
FONTBONNE PLACE. In1999, St. Michael’s Hospital (then owned & operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph) pulled out of their satellite clinic at 791 Queen St.E. The Sisters sought what needs could be served there. Permanent safe affordable housing for women 40 to 60 was decided upon. As the zoning laws permit only 3 storeys, there are only18 one-bedroom apartments plus a 3- bedroom on the ground floor.
MUSTARD SEED. The space on the ground floor adjacent to the buildings next door and the basement were unsuitable for housing. Sister Gwen Smith, who had worked for 10 years in Parkdale in social justice (including housing, refugees, community gardens, community kitchens and wholesale food store), was invited to explore what needs might be met in this space. With the government reduced resources for social services, Sister was told not to siphon funds or resources from other services, but rely solely on support from the Sisters and their benefactors.
With encouragement from agencies like Ralph Thornton, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Jimmy Simpson, St. Michael’s Hospital and Woodgreen a community garden, community kitchen and an art group were started. Other Sisters & friends added their talents of sewing, health care, foot care, counselling, spirituality, meditation, computer training, crafts, gentle tai chi, self-expression via writing, baking. East End Drop-in Network asked Mustard Seed to provide a drop-in in the cold weather. Mustard Seed was a founding member of the Riverdale Food Working Group, which promotes affordable nutritious food with workshops, markets and farm field trips. These activities are where the mission of Mustard Seed takes place: to nurture community!