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102 - 11 Ave S.E. Calgary, AB T2G 0X5 • 403-269-1319 • •

Spring 2010

Hope grows here

Your support grows hope for the homeless and provides the promise of a better future

The hearts of our homeless long for many things — sometimes it’s as simple as a hot meal or roof overhead. Others dream of curling up in a warm bed, finding a secure job, or overcoming a life-threatening addiction.

These dreams become reality through you, our steadfast supporters.

Your gift provides academic and skills training, employment opportunities, and offers independence by moving men and women into homes of their very own.

The homeless dream of a better future. Your support grows hope in the hearts of the homeless. Because of you, our guests have everything they need to reach their dreams and move out of poverty.

The Mustard Seed is a non-profit, Christian, humanitarian organization that responds compassionately to the needs of the 1 • The Mustard Seed with the church and community. inner-city’s less fortunate through mobilizing and working

Hope for the future

Jeremiah 29:11-14: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future...” Welcome to our revamped Mustard Seed newsletter! Inside you will continue to find stories of courage, hope and life transformation; we’ve just refreshed our look to better reflect The Mustard Seed’s new brand — a logo that signifies the peace, hope and change that occurs in thousands of lives at The Mustard Seed. We couldn’t do this vital work without your support.

You bring our mission to life for those in desperate need of new beginnings, and we are so grateful for your loving involvement in the work we do. I recently learned about one such story of your support transforming lives. Victor came to us in a state of despair, suffering from a life-threatening illness and having no home or family to support him. Because of your involvement, Victor found the care and help he

needed at The Mustard Seed after undergoing surgery. You can read about his life-changing miracle on page 4.

Guests like Victor come here with little hope. They long for a future with security and independence. And that’s what we’re here for — to remind guests that they’re not alone on this journey. Over the past 25 years I’ve seen thousands of seeking hearts — hearts searching for a new beginning, desperate for change, longing for healing from painful pasts. The Mustard Seed is where people find the hope they need for their futures. Sometimes the challenges our guests face in their journey to recovery seem insurmountable. But I’m reminded that we serve a God that sees the end, when we see only the moment. He sees the suffering but knows the path our guests must endure to reach their potential and find hope. And The Mustard Seed is

an important part of that path for thousands of homeless men and women.

Your support brings a lasting and precious gift to those in desperate need — HOPE. Thank you for giving the gift that transforms lives.

Pat Nixon, CM, AOE Chief Executive Officer The Mustard Seed

You can donate online Simply visit us at There is a convenient and secure form so that you can make one-time or monthly gifts. When a donation is given online, your personal information remains confidential.

Your gift changes lives!

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Home sweet home

Government grant provides 112 units of housing at Mustard Seed ministry centres across Alberta On March 16 The Mustard Seed received $12 million in funding from the provincial government to develop 112 units of housing for homeless men and women. The housing grants will provide new supportive housing initiatives at our centres in Calgary, Edmonton and Sundre. All the housing will be developed using a “Housing First” approach. “Housing First” recognizes that previously homeless people cannot overcome their circumstances until they have safe, secure accommodation. Once housing is established, supportive services ranging from education or employment training to healthcare support, to life skills training are provided to help make the transition to independent living a successful experience.

James, a former guest at The Mustard Seed Shelter was one of the first to benefit from the program. The Mustard Seed helped him find and secure affordable housing and provided him with the furniture and home basics he needed to set up his new home.

(L-R) Sam Breakey, Executive Director, The Mustard Seed Edmonton; Diana Schwenk, Director of Development, The Mustard Seed Calgary; the Honorable Ed Stelmach; Myron Krause, Executive Director, The Mustard Seed Calgary.

Mustard Seed Aftercare support workers build relationships with former guests like James and stay in contact with them to help them reintegrate into the community. James looks forward to getting his life back on track. “Once I’m settled, I’m going to start putting money back away in my RRSPs again like I used to and get back to enjoying life again…I’m getting my life back to normal.”

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The Mustard Seed is privileged to partner with the province to provide long-term solutions for homeless men and women. Providing a place to call ‘home’ is the only real solution to helping the homeless rebuild their lives and we are honoured to journey with our guests as they discover the joy of having a place to call home.

Victor’s miracle

Victor found a safe haven at The Mustard Seed after losing his home and becoming ill Victor came to The Mustard Seed Shelter as a refugee from Sri Lanka. After a dispute with his family, he had nowhere to go but the streets. Victor began attending Bible studies, found medical assistance through The Mustard Seed’s health and wellness services, and then moved into our housing program.

“The staff here are compassionate. People come here with different problems they can’t tackle, and they help you,” Victor says. Soon after moving into housing, Victor became very ill. Mustard Seed staff took him to medical appointments where a tumor in his bladder was discovered, and required emergency surgery. Not long after, a dangerous and life-threatening infection spread to Victor’s heart and he was rushed into open-heart surgery. The doctors told Victor he had a very small chance of surviving. Staff prayed for Victor, visited him in the hospital, and brought him meals.

After undergoing open-heart surgery, Victor found comfort, support, and a place to call home in The Mustard Seed’s transitional housing program. While Victor was in surgery, something incredible happened. He saw angels watching over him. “I cannot express the beauty of what I saw. I knew God had sent them to protect me during surgery and that God still had a purpose for my life,” he says.

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Victor survived and is recovering in his transitional housing unit at The Mustard Seed, where staff continue to visit and support him.

“God brought me to The Mustard Seed; I don’t know where I would have gone. The staff here have helped me so much, I am so grateful.”

Rebuilding lives and families

After losing everything to his addiction, Mike found purpose and hope again at The Mustard Seed

The Mustard Seed’s chaplaincy program helped reunite Mike with his family and find healing from his addiction.

Mike’s years of drug addiction had stretched his family to the breaking point. Finally, his wife and three children requested a restraining order against him. At 46, Mike lost everything, including the people that mattered most to him.

“My life was over. I wanted to die,” he says. Mike was deeply depressed when a friend invited him to dinner at The Mustard Seed. He says the difference between other shelters and The Mustard Seed was like

night and day. “For the first time since my divorce, I felt welcomed into a family.”

Bible studies led by chaplaincy volunteers at The Mustard Seed Shelter helped him reconnect with God and regain a sense of peace.

Mike credits The Mustard Seed’s chaplaincy program with encouraging him to seek healing from his addiction and with bringing his family back together.

When Mike made the decision to enter treatment, volunteers from St. Augustine’s church in Ogden raised money to cover the cost. They continue to support him through prayer over the 12-month program. Best of all, Mike’s family decided to reconnect with him, which Mike calls “a miracle”.

With support from The Mustard Seed’s chaplain, Kevin, and other staff, Mike realized he needed to face his addiction if he wanted to see his children again. He says that 5 • The Mustard Seed

“I believe God directed me here…I have a lot to be thankful for,” he says.

Youth take the plunge Cochrane youth gain a new understanding of poverty through The Mustard Seed’s inner-city immersion program

(L-R): Meagan and Clair, together with their youth group, learned about issues facing the homeless and how they can help, at DemoCrewPlunge. For 17 youth from Cochrane Alliance Church, participating in The Mustard Seed’s innercity program, DemoCrewPlunge, represented three days spent far outside their comfort zone.

DemoCrewPlunge exposes youth to the challenges and issues the homeless face. Students are engaged in workshops and service opportunities to help the less fortunate while they gain a better understanding of poverty. Program participant Meagan Orr admits her youth group’s participation in the program was

challenging. “It definitely opened up our eyes,” she says. Youth get a first-hand look at the day-to-day struggles the homeless face in their journey off the street. Meagan says she came away from DemoCrew with an unexpected blessing: a sense of purpose in her life.

“I feel more of a passion now to help people. I always assumed [the homeless] messed up their own lives, but now I want to help them,” she says. The youth group now has plans to take action against poverty in 6 • The Mustard Seed

their own neighbourhood. They are already involved in a local food drive, and are planning to return with friends to volunteer at The Mustard Seed. “The kids did everything from sweeping floors at the Shelter to imagining themselves living a typical day on the streets,” says Byron, Youth Ministries Manager at The Mustard Seed.

“The highlight was watching them develop concrete plans to change their day-to-day actions, thinking about how that could positively impact the world around them.”

Upcoming events

Volunteer opportunities

• For Book Lovers: A Fair’s Fair Fundraiser Thursday, May 27, 2010 6pm–9pm Fair’s Fair Bookstore 7400 Macleod Trail South Come and browse thousands of quality books at fair prices! 30% of all sales will be donated to The Mustard Seed. • Stampede BBQ Friday, July 9, 2010 11am–2pm 102 – 11 Ave SE

We are currently in need of an evening volunteer for our Creative Centre to greet guests, supervise the computer lab, conduct guest sign-in and answer basic questions for guests. To apply, or learn about all of our volunteer opportunities, visit

• Prayer Brunch Saturday, August 7, 2010 10am–12pm 106 – 11 Ave SW RSVP to 403-269-1319 ext. 204

Your gift of time can change a life!

Wish list

Please visit to learn more about upcoming events.

URGENT NEEDS • New men’s underwear • New women’s underwear • Men’s pants and shirts • New pillows • T-shirts • Spring jackets/outerwear

DemoCrew 2010

A Calgary inner-city experience Cultivate a heart for Calgary’s homeless while being immersed in the work and ministry of The Mustard Seed. Join us for hands-on workshops, street outreach, and service opportunities while gaining a new understanding of poverty and social justice in our city.

July 5-8, 12-15, 19-22 Visit or call 403-269-1319 for more information.

OTHER NEEDED ITEMS • Blankets • Bus tickets • Small kitchen appliances (e.g. pots and pans, toaster ovens) Items will be gratefully accepted at both our locations: Downtown: 102 – 11 Ave SE Southeast: 7025 – 44 St SE

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School of social justice Students leap at the opportunity to serve Calgary’s homeless

St. Rose of Lima Junior High in Calgary’s northeast looks just like any other school, but inside the walls you will find so much more. This is a school of social justice. Headed by teacher Gene Saldanha, the students and faculty of St. Rose of Lima have donated hundreds of items to The Mustard Seed in the last two years, including backpacks full of useful personal items for our guests. “I’ve been involved with The Mustard Seed since 2002. When I talked to the students about the wonderful personalities there, they wanted to kick into action and help in whatever way they could,” says Gene. Alex Sheichuk, 14, says she’s happy to help The Mustard Seed through the school.

“We all have everything we need, and there are people [in Calgary] who need someone they can count on. I’d like to be a part of that.”

(L-R): Students Alex and Kayla have helped their school raise much-needed support and items for The Mustard Seed’s guests. In 2009, the school raised funds for The Mustard Seed during various fundraisers, including a basketball game featuring the senior boys and girls against the Calgary Stampeders. Kayla Vespa, a grade 9 student and basketball player, describes the fundraiser as “very exciting, a great experience for our school.” Next up for St. Rose of Lima is a program where students collect

pledges from friends and family — the amount raised is based directly on their year-end mark. The higher the grades, the more funds they bring in.

“At The Mustard Seed, people can receive the things they need to live. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I think it’s a good idea,” Kayla says.

A Publication of The Mustard Seed

102 - 11 Ave S.E. Calgary, AB T2G 0X5 Ph. 403-269-1319 Fax 403-237-5296 Email: Editor: Courtney Fliss Editorial Board: Diana Schwenk, Lindsay Schonfelder Design & Layout: Page Dynamics Graphic Design

We are interested in your submissions and opinions. Please forward them to Courtney Fliss, Editor. Privacy Statement: When you become a financial supporter of the Mustard Seed you entrust us with your personal information. This information will only be used to: 1. Establish your identity in order to send out a tax–deductible receipt for your donation 2. Include your name on our mailing list. Your information is not shared with or given to anyone. We value you, our donors, and respect your privacy. Mailing Preference: We respect your preference regarding the amount of mail we send you. If you would like to discuss the type and amount of mail you receive, please call Donor Relations at 403-269-1319 and we would be happy to adjust your mail according to your wishes. Thank you.

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