Providing Hope Through the Pandemic

Despite being an incredibly challenging year, as its programs pivoted to adapt to the pandemic, St. Matthew’s House (SMH) has fully embraced their theme of “gratitude” in this year’s Impact Report.

Renée Wetselaar, executive director, and David Savage, chair of the Board of Directors, express a deep sense of gratitude for the philanthropy shown by the surrounding community. Partners of St. Matthew’s House resiliently contributed to the organization’s role in offering services that support folks in critical phases of human experience, whether at the “beginning of learning and life” or during “the era where we have wisdom.”

Over 900 donors gave gifts ranging from $20 to $2,000 directly to SMH, and this does not include the many who donated through their parish. As John Watts, chair of the Fund Development Committee, reflects, “every contribution is considered significant when it comes to providing hope and a lifeline to the many lives we impact.”

The SMH childcare program boasted an attendance rate of 83% during the pandemic. The leadership team is grateful that families have continued to trust the organization to do their utmost to maintain a healthy and safe environment, and that partners at Affiliated Services for Children and Youth, the City of Hamilton, Community Living Hamilton, the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre, and Hamilton Public Health Services continue to support these flourishing programs.

The SMH Seniors Support Services Team has continued to persevere throughout the past year, working tirelessly to improve the lives of vulnerable seniors in Hamilton. The Seniors in Kitchens (SinKs) program, in partnership with Food For Life and City Housing Hamilton, provided an astounding 25,708 meals in 2020, and the eviction prevention team, HOPES, has advocated for senior participants who need assistance.

SMH’s Adopt a Family Holiday Program was another success this past year. More than 700 households were given the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season with gifts and a holiday meal during a time when many participants doubted whether they would be able to celebrate. Supporters of SMH made sure the holidays were bright!

Launched by a tree-planting celebration, last year St. Matthew’s House also inaugurated their participation in the #GreenMyCity project, an initiative of the Green Cities Foundation. Partnering with the Diocese and the City of Hamilton alongside corporate sponsors and other local organizations, the Foundation hopes to create a greener space within the dense urban environment which surrounds St. Matthew’s House. The project includes planting native and hardy plants at the busy Barton East corner to create a buffer zone that helps manage air pollution and contributes to energy savings.

Of course, St. Matthew’s House knows that even with their immense gratitude for these triumphs during an extremely difficult year, there’s no time to rest. “Each day we are back at working our mission. In this moment of time, we savour the beauty of our spirits and the ability to stand together on behalf of those who struggle. It is in these moments,” Wetselaar and Savage reflect, “that our gratitude fills us up and allows us to continue to fight another day.”

To view the 2021 Impact Report, visit the St. Matthew’s House website at https://stmatthewshouse.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/SMH_ImpactReport2021_Pages.pdf.