All posts by Andres Ramirez-Arana

Angels in Isolation

Andres Ramirez-Arana

It has been many months since the Province ordered a state of emergency, which forced everybody to stay home, especially seniors. Our church remained open, offering care to anyone who came to our doors 5-6 days a week, between 11-1pm.

This was maintained by the efforts of many folks forced to shelter in place, like Jim and Merylie Houston, Stella Savage and Maggie Panter. While they were not allowed to come down to the church to help with the work of providing for the growing line of men and women who came to the church for aid, these folks prepared hundreds of sandwiches and even more baked goods, week in and week out. Maggie has made 3 loaves of sandwiches three times a week from the jump. Stella made two loaves of sandwiches every day the church was open, until a health issue sidelined her from the action. Jim estimates he has made 10 loaves every sandwich day, while Merylie has baked 12 dozen bran muffins at least once a week from the beginning.

Their generosity has enabled the church to continue it’s mission of fighting for justice and lifting spirits. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but the efforts of these folks and others like them have shown how much more powerful than that a village can be.

Indoors, Finally

Andres Ramirez-Arana

Holy Trinity’s efforts to combat the housing crisis have been ongoing for many years, but since the pandemic started our efforts have shifted into high gear. COVID-19 outbreaks in shelters caused many folks to relocate to encampments, including one set up around Trinity Square. 40 or so people have been living in tents around the church, offering a public visual of the dire straits faced by Toronto’s street people.

While many social services closed, we have been serving this population with food, water, coffee, access to electricity and personal hygiene supplies. At one point, there was even the threat of the City evicting these residents by clearing the encampments, which members of our congregation diligently combated.

Finally, on July 3rd, 3 and a half months since the beginning of the pandemic, the City took legitimate action. At 9AM, a team of outreach workers arrived to finally get our Trinity Square population indoors. In the midst of a heat wave, vehicles arrived to escort any people who wanted to go, to the city-funded Roehampton Hotel in midtown.

Folks will be housed for about a year there, and then hopefully be transitioned into long-term affordable housing. Many people packed their bags and began to line up while a huge donation of water was also dropped off. It is so exciting to see the City do what is right and address this ongoing issue that has been magnified by the current COVID predicament. We are thankful, and we will continue working hard to support our vulnerable street population.