Wednesdays @ Wilmot
Wednesday at Wilmot (W@W) grew out of the Christian teaching to love our neighbours and help those in need. Members of the Wilmot congregation provide hospitality, food, space, clothes, staff, volunteer workers, endless time, and funds for food vouchers (offered to each family once every three months through the Benevolent Fund).
Over the past six years, W@W has evolved from simply providing financial assistance to individuals who were struggling to make ends meet, to a more comprehensive program that includes education, information, and support for meeting basic needs and improving health and well-being.
Each Wednesday afternoon from September through June, volunteers provide a welcoming place to socialize, a nutritious lunch, information on community programs and services, a listening ear and encouragement to our friends who are coping with so many difficulties in their lives. Breaking the isolation of poverty is a very important aspect of W@W.
Vulnerable citizens of our community: those who are homeless or near homeless, poor and working-poor individuals and their families benefit from being able to access resources, services and support at one location in the downtown core. W@W does not implement a means test to determine participation.
Most of the people who attend W@W are either homeless (couch surfing or staying at a shelter) or they are vulnerable to homelessness. They often are dealing with very poor conditions at their residence such as recurring bed bugs, poor insulation, mold, and inadequate space, or they do not feel safe in their building. Many have ongoing physical or mental health issues, untreated dental problems, cannot afford medication, and do not have a family doctor. They may live with serious addictions. Learning disabilities and limited literacy are common. Access to transportation is extremely difficult.
W@W works closely with social workers, social work students and nursing students from the Downtown Fredericton Community Health Clinic and Outreach. Social workers interact informally with the group and talk with participants individually on request. In the fall term, nursing students are on hand to take blood pressure and blood sugar, distribute information and offer encouragement.
W@W collaborates with other downtown churches to share information on delivering outreach programs to disadvantaged people and to learn about the challenges and successes each have encountered.
Attendance at W@W has increased in the past year by at least 50%, with numbers averaging from 50 to 90 people coming every week for lunch, to socialize, and to access the services available. This increase in numbers has made it difficult to continue to provide the services we have offered in the past several years.
Thanks to grants in 2015 and 2016 from the Fredericton Community Foundation (FCF), W@W offered workshops, presentations and skills-building activities such as foot care, coping with stress, the truth about payday loans and how to access legal information and assistance. Support in 2017 from the FCF will allow W@W to provide more extensive footcare, begin a monthly craft program, offer a children's corner with toys and games, and involve participants in a basic cooking program.
We are grateful for a grant in December 2016 from the Fredericton Co-Op Community Fund to cover a portion of the ingredients for W@W lunches, help to stock our food table, enable W@W to provide free haircuts twice a month, and purchase much-needed bus tickets to distribute to those in need.
Wednesdays at Wilmot will not open on days when the local schools have been cancelled. Radio station weather cancellation lines will be informed. If we cancel on a day when vouchers are to be given, they will be available the next Wednesday.
For additional details on how this program works, and how you can help, check out our Wednesdays @ Wilmot FAQ page.
See Wednesdays @ Wilmot on video in Episode 5 of The Right Reasons here
We are blessed to have the support to offer this program through Wilmot United Church. All are welcome. If you would like to volunteer or donate, please contact Rita Roach (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beth Paynter bpay...@nb.sympatico.ca)
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