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Category: What I Have Learned So Far (218 posts)
A Happen' Place
December 9, 2018 @ 8:31 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Sometimes the last week of the month is a bit slower at the foodbank. However, last month quite a few of our volunteers attended. And we had three external agencies visiting us. The local legal aid clinic and an employment centre very close to us ... [read full post]

Cultural Expositions
December 4, 2018 @ 7:24 AM by: Richard Steinecke

A wondrous part of the Christmas season is to be exposed to different cultures. This past Saturday, the Oasis seniors group hosted a Spanish cultural exposition with dancers and musicians. It was wonderful and the audience really seemed engaged. T ... [read full post]

Holiday Calendar
November 27, 2018 @ 7:01 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Every Christmas I watch smaltzy movies with my family. I love to hate them: shallow, predictable, unrealistic. One of them, Holiday Calendar, stood out as it was filmed in our beloved Niagara-on-the-Lake. A scene caught me off guard. The rich boyf ... [read full post]

Christmases Past and Present at Oasis
November 24, 2018 @ 9:01 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The Oasis Christmas event has changed over the years. My earliest memories were of Jim Walker and other Board members personally cooking turkeys and serving a full course, sit down dinner to volunteers and supporters of Oasis. Then we shifted to s ... [read full post]

Tell Me Your Story
November 19, 2018 @ 3:21 PM by: Richard Steinecke

The same phrase can have two very different meanings. It depends on the context. 'Tell me your story'. When I am cross-examining a witness at a hearing the phrase insinuates incredulity if not outright disbelief.‎ Plus the phrase refers to one ... [read full post]

Prayer Meeting
November 17, 2018 @ 7:45 AM by: Richard Steinecke

To anyone without a faith background, the idea of a prayer meeting sounds peculiar. It conjures up an image of fundamentalist tent meetings a century ago. Despite being “used” to it, it does not come naturally to me. The concept of sto ... [read full post]

Pressing the Flesh
November 11, 2018 @ 8:33 AM by: Richard Steinecke

It is always nice to see politicians as they visit Oasis. They are usually quite appreciative of what we do. In addition, if it is in their power, they like to try to help with any issues we might have. I also try to be respectful of their time ha ... [read full post]

Memories that Last
November 8, 2018 @ 11:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

It is funny what sticks in your mind. On Tuesday I spent over ten hours madly going through a ton of tasks (buying supplies, cooking food, carrying cases of food, writing letters and cards, meeting with other agencies). But that is not what I am g ... [read full post]

Halloween Humour
November 1, 2018 @ 4:58 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The team was in. Having Halloween on a food bank day was too hard to resist. Many staff and a few volunteers decided to dress up in costumes. Some more outlandish than others. Nelson dressing up as a deranged hot dog was inspired. Sarah put togeth ... [read full post]

Constrained by our World View
October 29, 2018 @ 7:47 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Forgive me as I become a bit reflective, but I struggle with these issues.

We all are constrained by our world view: the framework by which we understand things. In John chapter 9, the disciples came across a person blind from birth. They ... [read full post]

How Do You Keep on Going?
October 26, 2018 @ 3:19 PM by: Richard Steinecke

I cannot understand how many of our community members keep on going. They level of pain in their lives is incomprehensible. One of our community members lost her daughter in a car accident a few months ago. As tragic as it is, that can happen to a ... [read full post]

Mixed Emotions
October 23, 2018 @ 8:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Oasis can whipsaw you. One moment you are on cloud nine and the next you are struggling. That happened a little while ago. Picture this: with one hand you are putting up pink streamers for a long-anticipated party while with the other hand you are ... [read full post]

Tribute to Janette
October 13, 2018 @ 7:30 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Tribute to Janette


There once was a woman named Janette

Who is the best volunteer on the planet

The Oasis foodbank, ... [read full post]

Play, Mimic, Gratitute
October 9, 2018 @ 5:40 AM by: Richard Steinecke

A mother pushes a stroller and seats down at the Oasis hall. A little girl peeks from the stroller and seats up. She rubs her eyes, stares from side to side and stretches out her hands. I can only imagine what she’s thinking. Get me out of t ... [read full post]

Perspectives Matter
September 30, 2018 @ 3:01 PM by: Richard Steinecke

It was a pretty small dust up, as these things go. A male community member asked for a bunch of small plastic bags to hold his fruit and vegetables. A female volunteer wanted him to combine some of the fruit and vegetables into a few bags to save ... [read full post]

Lunchtime at the Oasis Kitchen
September 22, 2018 @ 6:47 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Food. No wander someone said food is drama. Look at us, staff and volunteers at Oasis gathered around the kitchen table. Its lunchtime and people are happy to put aside whatever they were doing, to eat. Together. The food is a symbol of solidarity ... [read full post]

What Oasis Does Matters
September 15, 2018 @ 5:28 AM by: Richard Steinecke

One often wonders whether what Oasis does matters. Most of the impact we like to have is about relationships. People feeling included, developing confidence and becoming more independent. That is very difficult to measure. However, a major part of ... [read full post]

It is Quieter this Week
September 7, 2018 @ 10:35 AM by: Richard Steinecke

It was a lot quieter this week at Oasis. And the average age of our volunteers more than doubled. Our summer students have returned to their studies. We said goodbye with cake, testimonials, poetry and tears. On their last day the students met wit ... [read full post]

Art Fair #2
August 24, 2018 @ 7:11 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I was three times older than almost everyone else there. Our students had organized an Art Fair on the theme of food insecurity (i.e., people who do not have access to adequate, nutritious, affordable food). Our students had scouted out a location ... [read full post]

Unexpected Generosity
August 20, 2018 @ 6:16 AM by: Richard Steinecke

We were pleased to have Maimoonah and a group of day camp students from the Dawah Centre (a local Islamic information storefront) visit Oasis. They were enthusiastic volunteers serving on one of our busiest days this summer. The day camp students ... [read full post]

Overcoming Ignorance and Hate with Love
August 13, 2018 @ 5:27 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Hopefully it was just ignorance. Hopefully the person who spray painted a green swastika on the corner of Oasis’ home did not intend the hate that the symbol represents. God knows that the building that we serve through, and which houses mor ... [read full post]

Big Impact on Young Students
August 13, 2018 @ 5:26 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The main reason we hire summer students at Oasis is to try to impact their lives. Sure it is great to have the additional help at a time when many volunteers are away. And having young energy livens up the place. However, these young people are ma ... [read full post]

Tin Cans and Tires
August 9, 2018 @ 7:01 AM by: Richard Steinecke

(Another) one of my favourite parts of volunteering at Oasis is hearing community members tell their stories. Recently a community member shared with me that when she was a child she was so poor her only toys were empty tin cans that they found ly ... [read full post]

Art Fair
August 8, 2018 @ 4:50 PM by: Richard Steinecke

So much talent. Our summer students are brimming with flair. They have organized a second art fair (last year’s was wonderful). Calling on their friends and connections they will be presenting visual and performance art on the theme of food ... [read full post]

A Sense of Community
July 26, 2018 @ 5:54 AM by: Richard Steinecke

This is the second year that Oasis had a table at the Big on Bloor event. We learned from last year and made this year’s table even more inviting to those passing by. We were in almost constant conversation with people throughout the day, co ... [read full post]

Colour Me Impressed
July 24, 2018 @ 6:54 AM by: Richard Steinecke

What a joy it is to see young talent. Our summer students demonstrated amazing skills at the local Big on Bloor street festival last Saturday. Our table raised awareness of Oasis (almost no one knew we existed) and to promote volunteerism. The stu ... [read full post]

The Four E's
July 16, 2018 @ 5:27 PM by: Richard Steinecke

Eagerness. Excitement. Enthusiasm. Exhaustion. These are the three things I associate with summer students. This is the third year that we have had summer students at Oasis. This year we have seven eager recruits. One of them has been here all thr ... [read full post]

A Small Group Making a Huge Impact
July 6, 2018 @ 3:41 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The Old Mill Homechurch is a small group that meets in a living room. I have visited twice and they had about a dozen people there both times. Yet for the last two years they have had a huge impact. They bought bright red Canada bags and passed th ... [read full post]

July 5, 2018 @ 5:53 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Other than food, perhaps the greatest need of our community members is for housing. As our area gentrifies, more and more of our community members are pushed out of their residences and they cannot find anything in the area they can afford. They c ... [read full post]

What Motivates You to Volunteer
July 3, 2018 @ 5:19 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Nelson and I stand behind the tables as community members reach into the baskets, pick an item or two and move on to the next table. Oasis is like a market place on a Wednesday morning..

“I’ve known some of these people for as ... [read full post]

Matter of Fact
June 23, 2018 @ 5:40 AM by: Richard Steinecke

“I have lived in a shelter before”. The statement was made with such calmness that I was taken aback. Three months ago this community member had told me that he was being evicted so that renovations could be made to his rooming house. ... [read full post]

Laugher in the Morning
June 19, 2018 @ 5:07 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Whenever I talk to a volunteer at Oasis and ask them why they keep coming? Often, theresponse is the same. We are happy to help. We are part of a family. I watched with admiration this week as two volunteers who had been away for a while were welc ... [read full post]

Spanish and Coffee
June 11, 2018 @ 2:09 PM by: Richard Steinecke

Spanish and coffee. What do the two have in common? When you grow up in an Anglophone country, English is the language of instruction. So, I learnt English in school, and speak it fluently both at home and at work. At Oasis, I met diversity. I met ... [read full post]

Revealing One's Personality
June 9, 2018 @ 5:54 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Staffing a display table at Assembly (the annual conference for Canadian Baptists from central Canada) revealed a lot about the personalities of our staff and volunteers. First it divulged that our Women’s Director is known and loved by ever ... [read full post]

Refilling the Pantry
June 4, 2018 @ 4:57 PM by: Richard Steinecke

Last week we just about cleaned out the cupboard at our food bank. We had very few supplies left as we start into the lean summer months. By divine provenance, the Meeting House was just then holding a food drive and the Oasis Dufferin Community C ... [read full post]

What is Your Reason for Doing This?
June 3, 2018 @ 5:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Organizations like Oasis, that rely on volunteers, study why volunteers come. There are many studies that identify the benefits of volunteering for the volunteers themselves. And there are lot including improved physical, psychological, cognitive ... [read full post]

Food and Faces
May 28, 2018 @ 8:34 AM by: Richard Steinecke

When I volunteered at the Oasis food bank, I had no idea how a food bank operates. On many occasions, I have put canned food in the donations bins. More like an automated process. I purchase the food. I drop the food. I go home. Wait a minute! Who ... [read full post]

Oasis and Child Reunion
May 26, 2018 @ 7:18 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Almost 50 years ago singer Paul Simon released a sad and poignant song called “Mother and Child Reunion”. There have been many theories about the origin and meaning of the song. However, the emotion of reunions, both happy and sad ones ... [read full post]

At the Table
May 17, 2018 @ 11:42 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Volunteers stand behind several tables aligned with food containers. Each container has a different assortment of foods ranging from fresh vegetables and fruits, to dairy and meat products. There’s food for pets and hygiene products. Today i ... [read full post]

Not Going to Let the Boys Win
May 14, 2018 @ 5:56 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Every Wednesday the staff and volunteers who help out at the Food Bank have a light lunch afterwards. Usually the room is abuzz with multiple conversations going on at once in multiple languages. This past week we had a shared discussion with the ... [read full post]

Liking What You See
May 5, 2018 @ 6:43 AM by: Richard Steinecke

You know something is special if people want to hang around. By that measure, Oasis is something special. This week two people told me they want to help out at Oasis even though they don’t have to. The first was someone who needed to fill a ... [read full post]

Still True Today
April 28, 2018 @ 7:54 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Erika Abele shared with the staff a document she had worked on as a very young person. She was helping her mother prepare a Proposal to create a community centre to help vulnerable people, especially new Canadians, and especially women and childre ... [read full post]

I Have Never Seen Her Laugh So Hard!
April 23, 2018 @ 5:09 PM by: Richard Steinecke

‎One of our volunteers is all business. She works incredibly hard all the time and puts the rest of us to shame. And she is as reliable as clockwork. And she is incredibly easy to tease. Earlier this week we had a small recognition luncheon fo ... [read full post]

Three Conversations
April 19, 2018 @ 11:40 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Well that would not happen at my day job. I had three Oasis conversations in one day that could only happen here. The first, at our food bank, was with a refugee who had a prestigious university degree, worked at a high level government job in a m ... [read full post]

Five in One Week!
April 17, 2018 @ 5:55 AM by: Richard Steinecke

As most Oasis supporters know, without volunteers we could not operate. Volunteers help unload the food trucks and sort the food. They help make, serve and clean up after our community meal. They help set up and operate our food bank. They make ou ... [read full post]

It's Great to See Old People Get Excited
April 9, 2018 @ 10:33 AM by: Richard Steinecke

We had a couple of senior representatives from Christians Against Poverty (CAP) share with us their work to provide no-cost debt counselling to low-income people. It is a fascinating concept involving in-home visits with people facing extreme fina ... [read full post]

An Easter Reflection
April 1, 2018 @ 12:22 PM by: Richard Steinecke

There is a world of difference between humility and humiliation. While we don’t like to emphasize it, Jesus death involved the intentional infliction of extreme humiliation. His leadership was mocked by the Roman soldiers with a purple robe ... [read full post]

A Donation from an Unexpected Source
March 25, 2018 @ 7:45 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Many of our community members really appreciate what Oasis is trying to accomplish. They express gratitude. They try to help out when they can. They even encourage you on a down day. One such community member moved “down east” last yea ... [read full post]

March 24, 2018 @ 6:33 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Oasis is a good place to learn humility. You can arrive with lots of ideas about how to make things better and changes that need to be made. Now, there is always room for improvement and we have made a number of successful improvements to our prog ... [read full post]

A Small but Mighty Network
March 19, 2018 @ 5:05 PM by: Richard Steinecke

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned how we were making do with two stoves, one of which was partially broken. Almost immediately a supporter of Oasis approached one of our Board members offering their gently used stove to Oasis. Transportation cost ... [read full post]

Quite the Gang
March 17, 2018 @ 6:42 AM by: Richard Steinecke

There was a lot of energy. Forty-five young people from three churches visited Oasis on the Tuesday of the March Break as part of an urban mission trip. To start off, we had them write what they think their obituaries would say if they lived to 90 ... [read full post]

The Loblaw Gift Cards Are Starting to Role In
March 11, 2018 @ 3:29 PM by: Richard Steinecke

The $25 Loblaw gift cards are starting to role in at Oasis. We thank everyone who is donating them. We use them to buy extra food when we need some more to ensure everyone goes home with sufficient. With our tight budget, every bit helps. Recently ... [read full post]

My Ten-Year Old Hero
March 2, 2018 @ 4:32 AM by: Richard Steinecke

How many ten-year olds do you know would forgo their birthday presents? Well I met one this week. Isaac lives near Oasis. For his tenth birthday party he asked his friends not to bring any presents. Rather he asked them to bring non-perishable foo ... [read full post]

Making Do
February 25, 2018 @ 5:55 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Our cooks have a choice. They can use the stove or the oven, but not both. Everything works on our new stove but the wiring in the building is so old that the breaker is thrown if you put everything on at once. Our older stove has broken wiring to ... [read full post]

February 24, 2018 @ 8:14 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The call came in on my cell phone. He had to speak with me right away. Even though it was a holiday. A volunteer had been approached by a community member with an offer for a used laptop for $30. When the volunteer started it up he realized that i ... [read full post]

February 15, 2018 @ 8:10 AM by: Richard Steinecke

One of the recurring disappointments of working at Oasis is how often things disappear. Some of the incidents are understandable (e.g., a community member who skips items they will not use but then takes two items they really want; a volunteer tak ... [read full post]

February 10, 2018 @ 6:41 AM by: Richard Steinecke

No thank you. That was the response from a community member when I put a box with numbers in front of her. (We now use a lottery system for people using our food bank so that they do not wait in line for hours in the cold and wet to be first throu ... [read full post]

February 8, 2018 @ 4:42 PM by: Richard Steinecke

Experiencing a sense of achievement is an important part of a joyous life. Some of our community members do not often have an opportunity to appreciate that emotion. Certainly our volunteers get to experience achievement frequently. As a person wi ... [read full post]

Reconciliation No. 2
January 30, 2018 @ 7:26 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I have written previously about a community member who had grown from a previous position of hostility to certain groups to genuinely trying to understand Jesus’ message of love and acceptance. Recently he came to me in physical pain. I coul ... [read full post]

Reconciliation No. 1
January 27, 2018 @ 7:04 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Under my public exterior I can be quite sensitive. I was deeply affected emotionally when one of our community members lashed out at me for an extended period of time in what was obviously displaced anger. I kept my cool, but it hurt. I also felt ... [read full post]

January 18, 2018 @ 5:30 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I scratch my head when people say that a certain prominent person is too old to change. I am just ten years younger than him and I am changing all the time. My whole life I have been “Mr. Task Orientated”. Sitting around and talking ma ... [read full post]

What You Said Stayed With Me
January 14, 2018 @ 6:16 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I was furious. A community member, who was a follower of Jesus, said an incredibly insensitive thing in front of another person. In fact it was hurtful. I apologized to the other person and then I spoke to the community member. My anger was not we ... [read full post]

More Hidden Talent
January 9, 2018 @ 5:28 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I have mentioned before how many of our community members have abilities we never imagined. Over the last few weeks one of our volunteers grabbed moments between his other duties to colour a picture with the few markers we had available. His atten ... [read full post]

Starting Off the Year Right
January 6, 2018 @ 5:52 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I find there is a “sweet spot” between the chaos of Christmas and the busyness of New Year where one can relax, eat chocolate and reflect. That sweet spot ends this coming Monday morning. This brief interlude provides a unique opportun ... [read full post]

My Best Christmas Memory
December 23, 2017 @ 6:32 AM by: Richard Steinecke

One of my very best Christmas memories took place when my daughters were teenagers. At a concert we heard a moving presentation about the work done by a charity for teenage women caught up in human trafficking. Our daughters were devastated by the ... [read full post]

December 17, 2017 @ 7:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke

What do you do when you have 40 cartons of milk to distribute to 100 families? How about 16 dozen eggs? (You can cut the egg cartons in half to give you 32, but that does not solve the problem.) Staff at Oasis have spent hours discussing how to be ... [read full post]

We are Grateful
December 12, 2017 @ 9:33 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Oasis thrives because of the generosity of the broader community. Many churches, organizations and individuals donate to Oasis throughout the year and we could not survive without them. We received valuable grants from all three levels of governme ... [read full post]

Sublimely Divine
December 11, 2017 @ 8:55 AM by: Richard Steinecke

High church for a street level cause. St. Anne’s Anglican Church is definitely a high church. Its majestic building is a heritage site with a huge, domed ceiling and artwork by three of the group of seven painters. One feels goose bumps ente ... [read full post]

December 9, 2017 @ 2:40 PM by: Richard Steinecke

One of the costs of joining a new community is having to deal with loss. Some of our community members just disappear, often without warning. However, many of them return with tales to tell. Sometimes community members tell us they are moving to n ... [read full post]

December 8, 2017 @ 8:13 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The invitation came as a complete surprise. “Would Oasis be willing to be one of the beneficiaries of our fund-raising Christmas Cantate?” St. Anne’s had long dropped off food drive donations. And every Ash Wednesday we welcomed ... [read full post]

Sharing, Singing and Sashaying
December 3, 2017 @ 3:24 PM by: Richard Steinecke

What a weekend! It started off with our Volunteer Recruitment Conference where local agencies shared their mission and strategies for recruiting volunteers.‎ The best part of the conference, however, was networking with the other agencies abou ... [read full post]

My Busy Week
November 27, 2017 @ 2:05 PM by: Richard Steinecke

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Combining our Volunteers Recruitment Conference with our Volunteers Recognition Celebration this Friday (December 1st) means a long day. And, while we are at it, how about tossing in a Spanish Cul ... [read full post]

The Melt Down
November 24, 2017 @ 6:52 AM by: Richard Steinecke

In my day job in a professional office environment I hardly ever see explosions of anger. Usually feelings of frustration are either controlled or diverted in passive-aggressive behaviour. At Oasis most of our community members are patient and con ... [read full post]

That Which Has Been Lost Has Been Found
November 18, 2017 @ 7:01 AM by: Richard Steinecke

The job description for Oasis volunteers is: do what needs to be done. One of our community members lost her wallet. A kind citizen found it. The wallet did not contain the owner’s contact information but did contain an Oasis Food Bank card. ... [read full post]

Relax, Calm Down, You are Under Stress
November 12, 2017 @ 1:53 PM by: Richard Steinecke

Stress is infectious. When I am under stress I often don’t realize that I am creating anxiety for people around me. Last Tuesday we had a large group and I was helping with the cooking as well as trying to connect with people in the drop-in ... [read full post]

Prayer Huddle
November 11, 2017 @ 8:51 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I am praying as I write this. One of our community members is at this very moment travelling to a Remembrance Day service where her father will be honoured. He died 11 years ago. Our community member shared memories she had of him including about ... [read full post]

A Small Minnow in a Big Lake
November 4, 2017 @ 6:34 AM by: Richard Steinecke

Our numbers were down. The cheques came out a day or two before. The weather had turned nasty. People were celebrating Halloween. We had a chance to have conversations with community members we often don’t get to talk with a lot. One person ... [read full post]

NABWU - A Thorn Among Many Roses
October 28, 2017 @ 6:15 AM by: Richard Steinecke

So what is a man doing at the Toronto assembly of the North American Baptist Womens’ Union? A good question. I took my turn staffing the Oasis display table containing information about volunteerism and the work of Oasis. We were at the hall ... [read full post]

An Abundant Life
October 26, 2017 @ 5:19 AM by: Richard Steinecke

I was tired. Until I heard we were short-handed, I briefly toyed with the idea of skipping the Tuesday drop-in and community dinner. But, in just one evening, I had the following amazing experiences:

  • I watched a community member, wh ... [read full post]
    Someone's Gotta Do It
    October 21, 2017 @ 6:22 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    The expression: “It’s an awful job but someone’s gotta do it” came to mind this week. We had received a huge load of lettuce. A couple of hundred head. But they were wrapped in plastic and were starting to turn rotten. Abou ... [read full post]

    Home Grown Talent
    October 15, 2017 @ 4:25 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was all their idea. Two of our community members wondered if they could cook turkeys for Thanksgiving Tuesday. They would each take a frozen turkey home, defrost it, cook it and bring it in on the day of the meal. But there was a problem. To ha ... [read full post]

    Boys Like to Get Messy
    October 10, 2017 @ 5:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    What is it about boys and messes. During the last ‎heat wave we received six or seven crates of mandarins. Unfortunately they were ruined. They were covered in mould. They were oozing juice. By Tuesday dinner time they were discovered amid som ... [read full post]

    Feeling Like a Grandparent
    October 1, 2017 @ 8:12 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I am going to be a grandfather soon. I had a taste of what it might be like recently. One of our summer students is, like me, an introvert. Over the past two years I saw him grow into a leader with his peers and some of our other volunteers. Recen ... [read full post]

    The Award
    September 28, 2017 @ 6:12 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Day in and day out we work hard. We [our staff and volunteers] work late setting up and we get up early to set up some more. We negotiate different perspectives on how to serve our community. We accept the gratitude of most of our community member ... [read full post]

    Situation Ethics
    September 24, 2017 @ 5:33 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I grew up being taught that morality was absolute. It is always wrong to lie or steal. Ever. I heard only bad things about Joseph Fletcher’s books on Situation Ethics during the 1960’s. As a university student I struggled with the stor ... [read full post]

    Out of Reach
    September 16, 2017 @ 7:40 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I first saw it across a crowded room. I was immediately struck by its beauty and grace. As I drew closer its elegant simplicity was overwhelming. The message of the painting was unmistakable. I knew the name of the piece even before I read it. For ... [read full post]

    Starting School
    September 11, 2017 @ 6:15 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    What better way to welcome a fresh crop of Grade 9 students to their new school than having them clean out the food room at Oasis? That is what 20 fresh faced youth from the Toronto District Christian School did this past week. Starting off on a m ... [read full post]

    September 6, 2017 @ 5:14 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I like asparagus. And this time of year it is expensive. So when the truck brought cases and cases of it we grabbed it. However, on opening the boxes the smell just about knocked you over. We picked out the bunches that were still acceptable. At t ... [read full post]

    An Artistic Goodbye
    August 26, 2017 @ 6:09 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Eight weeks. That is how long our summer students were with us. At the beginning eight weeks seemed like forever with so much opportunity and promise. At the end it seemed to have just flown by in the blink of an eye. In between it was filled with ... [read full post]

    Getting A Boost
    August 23, 2017 @ 3:55 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    August has been tough for our food bank. Our usual suppliers are experiencing shortages themselves. We have been spending our own funds (which are in short supply) to buy additional food. Some of our community members have felt it, especially when ... [read full post]

    Too Close to Home
    August 18, 2017 @ 6:30 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was almost two years ago that I first learned about the opioid crisis. I was having lunch with the leader of the pharmacy regulator in Ontario. He explained about the origin of fentanyl-laced street drugs and of the small margin of error betwee ... [read full post]

    Kids are the Same Everywhere
    August 15, 2017 @ 6:31 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was such a delight to have the day camp from the Dawah Centre (our local mosque) visit the food bank. They helped serve community members with enthusiasm. We also arranged some interactive events to educate them about the work that Oasis does. ... [read full post]

    August 11, 2017 @ 7:18 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Many of our volunteers are open about their struggles with addiction. Over the last few weeks some of them have shared their experiences with our students and other volunteers. We were able to hear how the roots of their addiction originated with ... [read full post]

    Giving Up Dinner
    August 3, 2017 @ 3:10 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Ninety people! The people just kept streaming in. As soon as we brought in more tables and chairs we needed more. The room was bursting. This was probably the most we have ever had for our Tuesday community dinner. Nice weather and holiday closure ... [read full post]

    Almost Missing Out on a Blessing
    July 28, 2017 @ 9:37 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I was upset. We had paid for our spot at the local street festival. It was supposed to have a table, two chairs and a tent covering. But there was someone else in it. Festival authorities said that two organizations had accidentally been given the ... [read full post]

    Rapt Attention
    July 23, 2017 @ 6:25 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Some lives were changed forever last Wednesday. Including mine. We have been having some of our volunteers sharing their stories with our summer students. Most recently we asked Cathi to talk about her life. You could hear a pin drop as she recoun ... [read full post]

    July 22, 2017 @ 9:27 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I am astonished that many of volunteers take it upon themselves, without being asked, to clean up the garbage that accumulates outsides our doors on food bank days. That is not one of our most glamourous tasks. Recently I thought it was my turn to ... [read full post]

    Happiness is Here!
    July 13, 2017 @ 6:13 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    “Happiness is here” said a staff member excitedly. It was food bank day and there were a lot of people in the main room. I wondered if “Happiness” was the name of a community member that had returned after a long absence. S ... [read full post]

    The Potato Masher
    July 7, 2017 @ 6:10 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I am amazed at how people who visit Oasis want to contribute. Recently a member of our Board of Directors attended the food bank, saw that we were short of certain hygiene products, and arrived with a huge donation of them the next week. Over the ... [read full post]

    You Are Doing Nothing Right!
    July 4, 2017 @ 8:12 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    About one’s motivation for service, Leslie Ludy says: “If you are in ministry for your own happiness and comfort, you'll be sorely disappointed.” Recently ‎I personally received disheartening feedback from two community membe ... [read full post]

    Community Leaders
    June 30, 2017 @ 10:35 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Not being one myself, I have gained a new respect for Executive Directors. At a community meeting on affordable housing hosted by our local MP Julie Dzerowicz about a dozen Executive Directors attended. They each told heart-rending stories about t ... [read full post]

    You Don't Know Me but I am Praying for You
    June 24, 2017 @ 8:24 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It is lonely, sometimes, staffing a display table like I did recently at the CBOQ Assembly. People sometimes avoid you for fear that you are going to ask them for a donation. However, I had some great conversations with a number of people about th ... [read full post]

    Hidden Talents
    June 16, 2017 @ 5:49 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Most of our community members have hidden talents. For example, many of them are quite handy and are eager to help with necessary repairs. Never having been handy myself, I genuinely appreciate these skills. But occasionally a hidden talent jumps ... [read full post]

    Tucked Away
    June 10, 2017 @ 8:52 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    “I never knew that was here.” That was the universal reaction by everyone who saw it. At our spring event last week (and thank you everyone who came) we learned a lot about our neighbourhood. During our walking tour we came across a sm ... [read full post]

    Why the Oasis Spring Event Means So Much to Me
    June 1, 2017 @ 4:35 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Most charity fund raising events are about entertainment and money. Don’t get me wrong, those are important to Oasis too. But to me the most important part of our events, especially our spring event this coming Saturday, is the interaction a ... [read full post]

    Relying on the Kindness of Strangers
    May 30, 2017 @ 6:51 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Oasis relies on the kindness of strangers. Week after week people we do not know help us. This became so evident last week. For years we knew we needed to replace our shelving in the food storage room. We asked the local carpenters’ union fo ... [read full post]

    The TP Incentive Program
    May 27, 2017 @ 6:06 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Humour can make almost any situation bearable. I tell lame jokes before most activities to lighten the mood. (“Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.”) It has gotten to the point that once, when I announced I had not brough ... [read full post]

    Loss and Regret
    May 23, 2017 @ 4:25 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    If we are honest with ourselves, we all have regrets. A community member was carefully packing his food into his knapsack. I commented on his skill and attention. He told me that as a teenager he worked in a grocery store packing and carrying groc ... [read full post]

    Another Set of Nail-Scarred Hands
    May 14, 2017 @ 6:52 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    “I am sleeping in the park and I thought today was Tuesday.” So our volunteer and community member explained why he was absent from helping unload the food trucks the day before. As we talked he invited me, in a humorous gesture of gen ... [read full post]

    I am a Hypocrite
    May 9, 2017 @ 4:49 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    There is no getting around it. Most people are uncomfortable using a food bank. We do everything we can to welcome people and make their time at Oasis pleasant. We encourage community members to linger and socialize. We understand that life has de ... [read full post]

    It's the Small Gestures that Count
    May 2, 2017 @ 11:10 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was such a beautiful spring day that I decided to walk to visit my mom. I was delighted to see a community member on his way to see the blossoms in High Park. I always feel closer to the community when I see them while walking in the neighbourh ... [read full post]

    More Award Winning Volunteers
    April 29, 2017 @ 6:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Yet another one of our volunteers has won a prestigious award. He helps out in three local agencies, including Oasis. And he does such a good job. Reliable, friendly, gentle and kind.  ‎We were so pleased by his nomination (by another age ... [read full post]

    Missin' My Janet Hugs
    April 24, 2017 @ 5:08 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Our secret weapon at Oasis is called Janet. Often she is the first person anyone sees entering our food bank. With the wonderful St. Vincent lilt to her voice, she welcomes everyone with a warm greeting and a reassuring welcome. She has become so ... [read full post]

    The Downward Spiral
    April 18, 2017 @ 9:03 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It is like watching a car accident. You see the vehicles try to stop or steer out of, it but you know the collision is inevitable. One of the hardest parts of serving at Oasis is to see a community member get sucked into a swirling, downward spira ... [read full post]

    The Awards Luncheon
    April 8, 2017 @ 5:36 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Volunteering is rewarding. But for Peter Graves, it was more rewarding than usual. Peter, a fire fighter from the station just doors up the street from Oasis, had been recruited along with five of his colleagues to help prepare and serve our Chris ... [read full post]

    Apperances Can Be Deceiving
    April 7, 2017 @ 7:04 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    He was huge. As this first-timer to our community dinner walked in I was wary. Tall, big and with long purple hair. I wondered what I would do if there was trouble. He also did some unexpected things like open up his duffle bag and sort out his st ... [read full post]

    'In Our Experience'
    April 3, 2017 @ 2:52 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    I was privileged to speak at Ossington Avenue Baptist Church recently. I was asked to address homelessness. I had some facts and figures. I also had some theories about the causes of homelessness and some possible solutions. The audience was polit ... [read full post]

    Scary Stuff
    April 1, 2017 @ 4:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I sat down with one of our community members who always smiles and is upbeat. I had known for some time that he had to leave his place. He told me he had found a temporary place with an acquaintance. It was really no more than a spot in the corner ... [read full post]

    A Short History of our Book Exchange
    March 31, 2017 @ 5:27 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It is wonderful to see community members “buy-into” one of our programs. I heard of the idea of a community book exchange from some summer interns working at Liberty Grace Church. I got out a small book shelf and stuck in a few books l ... [read full post]

    Getting Work
    March 23, 2017 @ 4:59 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Many of our community members have just given up on ever finding a job. So we were somewhat hesitant about bringing in Humber Community Employment Services to provide advice to our community members. However, at our food bank day we set aside a pr ... [read full post]

    Finishing Half and Hour Late
    March 17, 2017 @ 2:25 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Lanark, Perth and Smith Falls are towns a little west of Ottawa. Close to a dozen of their youth, many of whom live on farms, chose to spend their March Break in Toronto. Their main mission was to do ESL tutoring for new Canadian children. However ... [read full post]

    Our Volunteers Are Keepers
    March 10, 2017 @ 6:55 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    When one of our key staff people fell ill, our volunteers leapt into action. They knew everything that had to be done and were even giving guidance to other staff on the finer points of storing the food unloaded from the trucks. They were fearless ... [read full post]

    Ash Wednesday
    March 6, 2017 @ 5:34 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    “Why do they give it then?” “The emperor has no clothes!” Two sentences by two insightful children. The latter statement comes from the famous fairy tale. The first was asked by some children visiting Oasis as part of their ... [read full post]

    Re-Filling the Emotional Tank
    March 4, 2017 @ 6:17 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I arrived at the Bible study emotionally drained. My week had begun with seeing a spiritually upsetting movie with one of my daughters called “Silence”. Then I learned that one of my spiritual mentors is in palliative care for cancer a ... [read full post]

    Living With the Newspaper Headlines
    February 24, 2017 @ 10:26 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    The headlines about the “Sixties Scoop” sounded familiar. First nations children were taken from their homes and adopted by non-native families in Southern Ontario during the 1960’s. One of our community members had told me a sto ... [read full post]

    The Reports
    February 21, 2017 @ 9:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Thursdays I am rarely at Oasis. I was, as usual, working at my paying job. But I eagerly received reports of the day from the staff there. The first report was unsettling: “we had to deal with a very upset community member that wanted food&r ... [read full post]

    Valentine's Day
    February 17, 2017 @ 5:56 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    What could be more romantic? After our separate busy days my wife, Donna, arrived at Oasis for the community dinner. I was busy mingling with community members while she helped serve the meal. Our community members and volunteers stepped up to var ... [read full post]

    The Antidote to Fear is Relationship
    February 11, 2017 @ 7:35 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    A few years ago, when I first saw the Dawah Centre mosque a block from my church, I was not happy. The display window was overtly attempting to recruit believers. In a sense, it was directly competing with our church. Also, without any evidence to ... [read full post]

    The Gambler
    February 9, 2017 @ 4:02 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    As I was driving to the cottage slowly savouring some premium Belgian chocolates and anticipating an exceptional Webers hamburger (hey, I had a tough week!) I reflected on the challenges for some of my favourite community members. Many of them smo ... [read full post]

    Gandhi's Usher
    February 7, 2017 @ 7:34 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    The archangel announced the next case: “Lord, is George Smithers. He wishes to enter heaven because he believes Jesus is the Son of God. He has served faithfully in his church. He has donated at least 10% of his income to the church. And he ... [read full post]

    Vigil Reflections
    February 2, 2017 @ 7:02 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    A large contingent of Oasis staff, volunteers and supporters attended a vigil at the Dawah Centre mosque to honour the dead and injured at Quebec City. Hundreds attended the vigil. Special thanks go to Todd Thomason, who was recognized at the vigi ... [read full post]

    Muslims are Welcome at Oasis
    January 30, 2017 @ 6:48 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Words cannot express our horror and sadness at the Quebec Mosque events of last night. At Oasis we are proud that our country and our organization receive, not ban Syrian refugees. We have appreciated the contributions of our Muslim community memb ... [read full post]

    Spontaneous Generosity
    January 27, 2017 @ 7:35 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    “I don’t have to cook for two days” said the volunteer as he helped with the cleanup after our Tuesday community meal. When the meal is over, community members are allowed to take a container of left overs home. We are particular ... [read full post]

    Throwing Plans Out the Window
    January 18, 2017 @ 4:09 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    There is an old Yiddish proverb that says “People plan, God laughs”. While the view that God laughs at us is doubtful, it is true that our plans are not always Gods plans. Sometimes we just need to shelve our plans and deal with the ci ... [read full post]

    One Onion
    January 13, 2017 @ 11:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    “For an onion. One onion.” The community member was visibly upset as he told me his tale. He is regular at the local plaza. It is a place he can go to get out of his small and dingy room. It is a major part of his community. He estimat ... [read full post]

    January 7, 2017 @ 11:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Like most people, during that brief lull at the beginning of each year I try to set some priorities for the coming year. This year doing so is particularly important as the Board of Oasis is setting aside most of a Saturday to do some serious stra ... [read full post]

    My First Year
    December 28, 2016 @ 7:18 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Focussing on day to day tasks and planning for the near future, we often lose sight of the larger canvass of our lives. It was just a year ago that I started to volunteer half of my work week at Oasis. Looking back at my journal and blog entries, ... [read full post]

    Miracle on Dufferin Street
    December 21, 2016 @ 5:41 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I witnessed a strong argument for the existence of God last night. For our big turkey dinner we had, for the first time ever, a team of six firefighters from the local fire hall helping cook and serve the meal. They were wonderful: cheery, hardwor ... [read full post]

    Blinding Amazement
    December 15, 2016 @ 9:17 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Ken and Elaine are blind. They heard about Oasis at their church and wanted to check it out for themselves. So they got on the bus and went up the street to Oasis and somehow found their way to the side door and down the stairs. They joined the co ... [read full post]

    The Community Gathers
    December 10, 2016 @ 7:29 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    There is really only one day when the broader Oasis community gathers together. Sure, much of the community is there for the spring and fall happenings, but those are task orientated events. It is only at the Christmas celebration that program par ... [read full post]

    Preach it Brother
    December 1, 2016 @ 9:29 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I have done a lot of presentations on behalf of Oasis. This week I preached my first full sermon as its representative. People do want to hear the stories of “mission work”, but this was a rare opportunity to also communicate how &ldqu ... [read full post]

    Returning Friends
    November 24, 2016 @ 9:57 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I continue to be amazed at how community members can disappear from Oasis and then reappear months and even years later. One of the stalwarts for Oasis for years was Terry. His steady presence kept the food bank operating smoothly through all kind ... [read full post]

    Another Drop in the Ocean
    November 19, 2016 @ 6:54 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    You take your victories where you can get them. Paolo (not his real name) came to the community dinner a few weeks ago carrying a lot of stuff. He was upset. His usual friendly greeting was replaced with “life sucks!” He had been evict ... [read full post]

    Child Poverty Report Released
    November 15, 2016 @ 4:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke


    Our Food Bank is open during school hours so we don’t see a lot of children. However, many parents do bring their pre-schoolers along. They are always a delight to see and the volunteers and community members gravitate towards ... [read full post]

    Skill Development
    November 11, 2016 @ 10:21 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    In the last few weeks we have been delighted to have Dee doing a school placement with us at Oasis. This week I met with her and her supervisor to review the tasks she is doing. Dee is very agreeable and has been happy to do anything that needs do ... [read full post]

    Washing Dishes and Cultural Awareness
    November 6, 2016 @ 7:07 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was drummed into my head as a child that you should not leave the water running; our well could go dry. This was reinforced as an adult as being bad for the environment as clean drinking water is a precious commodity. So when I saw some of our ... [read full post]

    A Collision of Two Worlds
    October 27, 2016 @ 5:12 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was a delightful breakfast at a very expensive restaurant with three other senior lawyers. In addition to the business at hand, some of our number recounted adventures in buying expensive suits at one of the top-quality tailors in the city. I h ... [read full post]

    October 23, 2016 @ 1:51 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    We often hear talk about a group or organization being like “one big family”. More often than not that is just talk. But at our Walkathon yesterday, the group did feel like family. Certainly there were diverse elements including staff, ... [read full post]

    If You Don't Like the Answer, Ask Someone Else
    October 22, 2016 @ 7:20 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Jesus’ parable about the persistent neighbour is about relying on God to answer prayer. If you can pester a neighbour who cannot be bothered to help you to giving you want you want, how much more is God who loves you and wants the best for y ... [read full post]

    Two Steps Backwards
    October 18, 2016 @ 5:21 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    You just cannot explain some days. Last Wednesday was one of them. It began with a confrontation with a volunteer who refused to stop aggressively presenting his unusual and somewhat disturbing views to others. Then there were more than the usual ... [read full post]

    A Widow's Mite
    October 14, 2016 @ 3:13 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    It is amazing to see a Bible story replay right in front of you. But earlier this week that very thing happened. A community member came up to me during our dinner and asked if he could make a donation to our work. I knew he had very little money, ... [read full post]

    October 5, 2016 @ 4:47 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    “Fellowship” is a quaint term. You hear it most often in church settings and in the Lord of the Rings Movies. The word conjures up an image of group camaraderie, joyful celebration, and good friends. After going through our food bank, ... [read full post]

    Taking a Hockey Stick to the Shower
    September 30, 2016 @ 8:26 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I arrived after it had it was all over. Bill (not his real name) was shaken. Another community member had taken much more than his portion of the meat for their table and Bill had asked him to share it with the others. The other community member r ... [read full post]

    Like a Picnic in the Park
    September 24, 2016 @ 4:10 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Last Tuesday our picnic in the park was like, well, a picnic in the park. The weather was perfect. Community members sat down in small circles eating and talking. The mood was entirely relaxed. Which is a real contrast to our usual dinners in the ... [read full post]

    Friends in Unusual Places
    September 20, 2016 @ 8:02 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Oasis finds supporters in unusual ways and in unusual places. There is an employment centre about five minutes drive from Oasis. I am not even sure how we found each other. We have referred a few community members there.‎ Last spring we called ... [read full post]

    It's Not the Food
    September 15, 2016 @ 5:51 AM by: Richard Steinecke

     I was talking with one of our community members. The conversation ranged over many topics including his living situation. He has a wonderful landlady who cooks some of his meals for him. She is genuinely concerned about all of her tenants (n ... [read full post]

    The Thrill of Giving
    September 13, 2016 @ 9:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    These days I buy myself the gifts I really want. Sometimes I am able to specify an extra treat for Christmas or my birthday. What really gets me excited, though, is finding a special gift for someone that I think they will really like. I get impat ... [read full post]

    The Reappearance
    September 8, 2016 @ 6:06 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    There have been a few community members that “disappear”. For whatever reason they just stop coming. I am not surprised; many of our community members live unsettled lives. They return “home”; try a new life; visit family o ... [read full post]

    Feeling Rotten
    September 1, 2016 @ 6:39 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Whenever you make policies for the best of reasons, there are consequences. After struggling for months with running out of key food items (e.g., milk, fresh food, dairy) and even running out of food together, staff decided we needed to more stric ... [read full post]

    It's a Wonderful Life
    August 26, 2016 @ 10:59 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Andy Kokics had worked at the Oasis food bank for many years until his health deteriorated. He had no family and I anticipated a very small turnout for his memorial service. I was wrong. There were about 50 people from his building, his church and ... [read full post]

    The Hug
    August 25, 2016 @ 7:46 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I did not even see her. Just as we met on the sidewalk she greeted me and gave me a big hug. I had been away for a week and she wanted to know how I was doing. We chatted for a while. A few hours later I ... [read full post]

    August 22, 2016 @ 5:16 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    A smile formed on his face as he approached the water. He leaped up, grabbed his knees and cannonballed into the water. The huge splash drenched the person standing beside him and landed on the spectators in the first few rows. Did this happen at ... [read full post]

    August 20, 2016 @ 5:12 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    At the Compassion Conference I was at this week there were many stirring stories and inspiring videos. The highlight for me, though, was the sharing time. ‎Of the hundreds of people attending the conference less than a dozen came to this sessi ... [read full post]

    White Privilege
    August 17, 2016 @ 6:15 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    At the conference on Compassion I am at this week, Micah Bournes an Afro-American speaker, talked about White Privilege. It was actually quite brave of him to do so since almost everyone in the audience was Caucasian.  Micah was respectful an ... [read full post]

    'Thank You for Putting Me in Jail'
    August 11, 2016 @ 6:13 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of our community members felt like socializing today. He brought his cute dog in and had him perform some tricks with some of the volunteers. I caught up with him at the coffee table and we chatted about the dog, his grandchildren, a trip he w ... [read full post]

    Staff Meeting
    August 9, 2016 @ 1:24 PM by: Richard Steinecke

     In my “day job”, staff meetings are usually very efficient. We are there to get things done, and done quickly. Wasting time a mortal sin. I totally accept that approach. So I had to change a lot when I began to attend Oasis staff ... [read full post]

    Amazed Again
    August 5, 2016 @ 6:01 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Usually I am running around in the kitchen cleaning up after the Tuesday community dinner. This week there were actually a lot of people helping there so I got a chance to see what was happening in the eating area. Almost everyone was doing someth ... [read full post]

    Here Take It
    August 2, 2016 @ 8:08 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    On the hottest day of the year I was fanning myself vigorously in the intake office. The room had zero circulation. One of our older community members came in with a striking straw hat. It really suited him, particularly on this day. I remarked on ... [read full post]

    Golden Locks
    July 29, 2016 @ 7:15 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Our community members have great stories to tell. Their lives have been rich with successes, failures and interesting experiences. Years ago, one community member had managed to colour his dark dreadlocks blond. He was approached on the street by ... [read full post]

    Friends in High Places
    July 25, 2016 @ 6:08 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    The five students and I walked past the office of our local Member of Parliament on our way back to Oasis. She had helped us obtain funding for two of the summer students. I had to pick up a letter of support she had written for us on another gran ... [read full post]

    Desperate for Housing
    July 21, 2016 @ 5:16 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    This week five community members asked for help in finding housing. Some were being evicted. Some could no longer stay in their premises because of various forms of vermin or extremely challenging housemates. One had to find a place in less than t ... [read full post]

    Through Their Eyes
    July 18, 2016 @ 5:29 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    When my daughters were growing up, I read to them the Anne of Green Gables books. Those were books that I mocked when I was growing up and would never have read on my own. However, the pleasure of experiencing the books through the eyes of my daug ... [read full post]

    What Do We Provide?
    July 14, 2016 @ 5:56 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    This summer we have five idealistic, enthusiastic and hardworking summer students with us at Oasis. They have already gone through an intensive training program on the values and policies of Oasis. There was a good discussion about the “firs ... [read full post]

    Visiting Other Churches
    July 11, 2016 @ 7:23 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of the best parts of my role at Oasis is visiting churches that are interested in our mission. During the last two Sundays I visited a Hispanic church (service mostly in Spanish) and an African-Canadian church. The music and worship time at bo ... [read full post]

    Mr. Encouragement
    July 8, 2016 @ 7:11 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of our beloved staff announced to the community that he was leaving to do advanced studies ‎in British Columbia. He gave a moving address as to how Oasis, and some of the people he had worked, with had inspired him. He also mentioned that ... [read full post]

    The Best Thing About Wednesday Mornings
    July 4, 2016 @ 6:08 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Wednesday morning Food Bank days are always interesting. No matter how early I arrive, it always begins with greeting the start of our lineup at the front steps. This is followed by setting up a welcoming space and well-appointed food tables. Acco ... [read full post]

    Walking Down the Street
    June 30, 2016 @ 7:08 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    A trip to the Tim Hortons down the road from Oasis on a sunny afternoon made me feel part of the community. While there I met a community member who shared his frustration at the Portuguese football team at the Euro Cup. No sooner had I left the s ... [read full post]

    Never a Dull Moment
    June 28, 2016 @ 5:23 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I was on intake at the Food Bank for the first time. It was a bit of a challenge for me as I am not intuitive on most computer programs. ‎My first new client was pleasantly talkative. When I asked what languages she spoke, she said: 'English a ... [read full post]

    Task Orientated
    June 23, 2016 @ 5:49 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    As I have mentioned before, I tend to be task orientated. To a fault. The other day I was walking quickly to the subway in order to join my mom for dinner at her retirement home. I could see up ahead that the light was going to change soon. I coul ... [read full post]

    Rotten Tomatoes
    June 21, 2016 @ 5:58 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    The tomato came flying through the air, glancing off the forehead of our intake worker and splattering against the wall. It was followed by a stream of abusive language. She then threw a booklet at another staff person. Our community member accuse ... [read full post]

    Making an Impression
    June 17, 2016 @ 5:44 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    When I first met Simone, Manuel and Jan, they were enthusiastic young adults in their early twenties. As part of an internship experience, they had travelled from Germany to Canada and were already helping out in a local church. They were looking ... [read full post]

    What Do We Do that No One Else Does?
    June 13, 2016 @ 7:15 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    As part of our strategic planning process staff discussed this question. In our vicinity there are a lot of Food Banks and a lot of community dinners. Indeed, every service we offer is also done by others. But in discussion staff members believe t ... [read full post]

    Giving Back
    June 9, 2016 @ 7:07 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    She came storming into to Food Bank slightly out of breath with two heavy bags. “I have some food I want to donate” she panted. I helped her unload the bags. Included were eight containers of pasta sauce, something we were running out ... [read full post]

    God Forbid
    June 7, 2016 @ 10:40 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I have read and studied the parable of the tenants in Luke 20 many times. When discussing it recently at our Oasis small group Bible study I was taken by the words “God forbid”. This is what the original hearers of the parable said whe ... [read full post]

    Caribbean Prayer
    June 2, 2016 @ 9:07 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Most groups of people develop their own art forms that reflect, amaze and inspire its members. When Christianity was dominant in a culture, much of the greatest art of the times (e.g., music, writing and painting) reflected Christian themes. Today ... [read full post]

    Relative Compassion
    May 30, 2016 @ 12:33 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    I would have thought that our community members who use the Food Bank and participate in our Community Kitchen would be supportive of their less fortunate homeless brothers and sisters “begging” on the streets. That may not always be t ... [read full post]

    May 26, 2016 @ 5:19 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of the great things about parables is their paradoxical nature. Last week we looked at the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Our discussion leader’s main point is that we often fool ourselves when interpreting life’s experiences ... [read full post]

    Breaking the Record
    May 24, 2016 @ 4:34 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Most of the time, breaking a record is a good thing. Fastest 10K run. Maximum GDP the country has ever produced. Highest rate of high school graduation ever. However, some records are not worthy of praise. As I write this India reached the hottest ... [read full post]

    May 21, 2016 @ 5:54 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Clients have often told me that one of my greatest strengths is that I am focused, task orientated and efficient. One of my greatest weaknesses is that I am focused, task orientated and efficient. Last Tuesday I was busily overseeing the clean up ... [read full post]

    May 15, 2016 @ 6:13 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    “We will no longer provide soap in the men’s washroom.” Our landlord had had enough. Soap was continuously disappearing. The landlord had installed an expensive dispensing machine firmly affixed to the wall. Inside the machine wa ... [read full post]

    After Effects
    May 13, 2016 @ 6:07 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Some events disappear into forgotten history immediately. Others have ongoing effects. Our “Be a Food Bank Client for a Morning Event” last Saturday seems to be falling into the second category. Not only has there been an ongoing buzz ... [read full post]

    Can You Bring Your Mother to That?
    May 8, 2016 @ 5:49 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    How many things do we do in our lives where we would feel comfortable bringing our mother? That is a pretty good test to apply to our choices. Yesterday I brought my mom to the special Oasis event “Be a Food Bank Client for a Morning”. ... [read full post]

    Learning From Each Other
    May 6, 2016 @ 7:08 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    We were looking at the parable of the lost coin. I had studied it many times in the past and heard many sermons on it. I thought I knew what it meant. The woman was God and we were the lost coin. But in our group study, one of our community member ... [read full post]

    'Please Accept Our Service'
    April 30, 2016 @ 5:30 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    The staff at Oasis occasionally gather to pray. It is completely voluntary. And it is led by staff, not management. It is almost always very special. At the last meeting one of the staff said, in her prayer, “please accept our service” ... [read full post]

    Riding in the Back of a Police Cruiser
    April 28, 2016 @ 11:25 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of our volunteers had been punched in the face and was at the hospital receiving stitches. The police were at Oasis investigating. There were special circumstances and I wanted to offer mediation as an option. The police were fine with that (p ... [read full post]

    April 25, 2016 @ 5:26 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    My eldest daughter had an imaginary friend when she was young, the father of her doll Sarah. No matter how much we established through logic and reason that Sarah’s father did not exist, she always had an answer (usually creative and illogic ... [read full post]

    He Never Came Back
    April 21, 2016 @ 4:41 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of our kindest community members always expressed gratitude for everything Oasis did for him. Sometimes he came when he really wasn't suppose to, saying there was no food in the house. We never sent him away empty handed. He brought others fro ... [read full post]

    No Beans
    April 17, 2016 @ 5:41 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    It is such a relief when the food room is full on a Wednesday morning. We were stocked to the rafters. More was piled in our Director’s office. Good thing, since we had a big crowd again today. But we had few beans and even less tuna. We mad ... [read full post]

    Camels and Needles
    April 14, 2016 @ 8:04 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    “I’m just like Jesus”. This was not a grandiose claim of self-importance. Nor was a symptom of an acute mental illness. Our community member was simply identifying with the poverty of Jesus. His point was that Jesus could have ch ... [read full post]

    Many in Toronto Facing Hunger
    April 8, 2016 @ 5:50 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    On April 7, 2016 the Toronto Star published an article entitled: Hunger an issue for one in eight Toronto region households, says new report. It can be found at:

    Just Havin' a Conversation

    April 7, 2016 @ 6:28 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    Recently I sat at a table with four members of our community sharing what I had learned about the Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program at a seminar the week before. I expressed puzzlement at how the system worked. I saw four noddin ... [read full post]

    Table of Learning
    April 3, 2016 @ 2:43 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    $626 a month. That is was a single person receives under Ontario Works (sometimes called welfare or social assistance). The speaker from the local legal aid clinic, which also provides housing assistance, went on to say that the typical one bedroo ... [read full post]

    Donor Meeting
    March 30, 2016 @ 4:34 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    “What do you need the most?” That is a pretty loaded question for a Pastor of one of our major supporting churches to ask. Both Erika (our longest serving staff member) and I had the same answer. And it wasn’t money! (Even though ... [read full post]

    March 24, 2016 @ 7:22 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    There is a scene from my favourite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart slams the door shut at closing time at his Savings and Loans Company. There had been a “run on the bank” and he had two dolla ... [read full post]

    You Have Been Charged with an Offence
    March 21, 2016 @ 5:55 AM by: Richard Steinecke

    I had no idea that you could not turn left onto Oasis’ street during rush hour. I had never noticed the sign. But there I was, sitting in front of the early line-up to the Food Bank getting a ticket. The officer actually said “You have ... [read full post]

    A Sad Goodbye
    March 17, 2016 @ 4:59 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Oasis staff and volunteers presented a cake and card to George Buckingham as he starts a new full-time job. There were a lot of hugs, stories and tears. George has been a fixture for many years at Oasis. He has been a regular volunteer on Tuesdays ... [read full post]

    A Big Hit
    March 10, 2016 @ 2:11 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    World Vision donated seven boxes of adult multi-vitamins. We struggled a bit with how to offer them to our community. Would anyone want them? Should we be promoting them? What instructions for use and warnings should be given? After a lot of discu ... [read full post]

    The Germans are Coming! The Germans are Coming!
    March 9, 2016 @ 6:41 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    For years Liebenzell Mission, based in southwestern Germany, has brought many of its students to Toronto. Because of its diversity, Toronto provides a prime opportunity for future missionaries to develop cross-cultural skills. I suspect it also gi ... [read full post]

    How Was Your Day Dear?
    March 2, 2016 @ 4:33 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Until recently, when asked about my day, I would respond: “Great. How was your day dear?” And it was true; I love my day-job. Just not a lot new to say.

    Today when I was asked I said “Great. So much happened today! I had ... [read full post]

    Giddy - February 23, 2016
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:38 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    Here were grown men, all past 40. Some well past. And they were giddy with excitement. Deliveries today from the Daily Bread Food Bank and Second Harvest had tripled their usual supplies. And it was a lot of work carrying it all to the Food Room a ... [read full post]

    The Concept of Time - February 18, 2016
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:36 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    In their book “When Helping Hurts”, Corbett and Fikkert talk about how different cultures view time. In Canada and the United States, time is viewed as finite resource. Every moment must be used or it is lost forever. To do lists are e ... [read full post]

    Celebrating Victories - February 17, 2016
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:32 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    One of our longest serving and active community members was oozing excitement. He had to speak with me the moment I came in. He had obtained a good full time job that suited his talents. “It has been three years” he told me. I was thri ... [read full post]

    Out of the Mouths - February 10, 2016
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:29 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    The shipment of vitamins from World Vision arrived. Six huge boxes of containers. 180 tablets in each container. Many members of our community will benefit from this. The very next day we had a group of students from two local churches visiting us ... [read full post]

    An Accountant's Guide to the Universe
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:27 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    It was time to go to the kitchen to oversee the cleanup. But a community member was regaling me with facts and figures about the universe. The numbers rolled of his tongue with ease. Billions of years here. Tens of thousands of kilometres an hour ... [read full post]

    You're Feeding Them Junk
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:25 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    The shopping cart was full. Very full. Cases of tomato sauce, beans, and evaporated milk almost obscured the 24 packages of pasta and the oatmeal sitting in the back of the cart. The woman in front of me in the checkout line looked at the cart and ... [read full post]

    The Building - January 27, 2016
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:22 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    The young man sat there quietly. I apologized to him for the wait but most of our intake volunteers were away. He received the apology graciously. He wasn’t into American football. Or politics. Or world events. He was even a bit reluctant to ... [read full post]

    Turn the Other Cheek -January 26, 2016
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:20 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    He had almost been asked to leave. Twice. For his angry verbal outbursts. He had been angry with me for suggesting that he let the “insults” of the others go. I had been criticized for not being a Christian for not taking his side beca ... [read full post]

    Pastor - January 20, 2106
    February 26, 2016 @ 3:17 PM by: Richard Steinecke

    “You are the Pastor, right?” she asked. I replied that I was just a volunteer at the Food Bank. She told me that she thought I was the Pastor because I stood around and talked with people. In fact, she told me, I feel more comfortable ... [read full post]

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