St. Thomas Anglican Church's Kreative Kids community project has expanded to reach everyone in their community, encouraging connection through arts and good food.
Initially, Kreative Kids was the first program St. Thomas Anglican Church offered, first started 10 years ago, it is a drop-in art program for the community of Weston and Brooklands. Each day there is something new for the kids to take part in, such as arts and crafts, board games, video games, movie nights and more.
In more recent years, the outreach program has grown and has included a Kreative Takeout Meal Program which was started by two sisters that attend the parish, Courteney and Meredith.
Courteney is the church's program director and the creator of Kreative Kids in an effort to create a space where kids could gather and learn new skills in their underserved community.
Meredith created another program called, Kreative Kitchens, which invites the community to sit down together for a meal. Youths, those in the CFS system or who have a disability are encouraged to volunteer to break some barriers they may face in the workforce. This allows them to gain experience and skills that would be harder to get in a normal work setting.
In the future, Meredith hopes the program will grow and turn into a catering business, so the volunteers can get paid for their hard work.
"Coming to church is not a requirement to access anything that happens in our space ever," says Cassandra Golondrina, the People's Warden at St. Thomas Church. "We will talk about it, people will ask us why we do it and we talk about it but really for us, especially the table fellowship, its original intent is to demonstrate, we call it 'Christi-action.'"
Golondrina says these programs open the gates to engage in conversations about how living a life for God is fulfilling, enjoyable, and full of love and life. She also notes that through these programs people have become frequent church-goers, dedicating their lives to God and getting baptized.
Yet, with all this good news, because they are serving an underserved community there are some hardships.
Four years ago, St. Thomas Anglican Church was almost shut down, but the main members gathered and worked on ways to keep the church standing. For almost 10 years, the church went without paid ministers and everything was done by volunteers.
"We're in a dire situation right now. We've been able to get some grant money for the food program, but it is very hard to get funding for a church. It takes about 207 volunteer hours a week to run all of the programs that are happening at St. Thomas, and that includes our Girl Guides, the Kreative Kids, the Takeout Meal program, and having a church service."
Golondrina says that people donate when they can, however much they can, which is difficult because their area is a low-moderate-income neighbourhood.
"There's no money really coming into the church, and it's very evident that it's needed."
for more information about Kreative Kids, the other programs and how to help St. Thomas Anglican Church financially, visit their website.