Jagger Long and his neighbours wanted to give back, but going through a volunteer application process can get daunting or frustrating for some. So they began running clothing drives and food donations for the homeless and Syrian refugees. While they enjoyed helping however they could, they didn't expect things to grow as rapidly as they did.
Jagger had walked by Strachan House numerous times, but never stopped to learn more about it. One day, after the group's volunteer work with another shelter had ended, he went in to meet the people living there. He met the supervisor at the time, Shannon, who gave him a tour of the building and introduced him to a few clients.
Liberty Village Cares had done a Thanksgiving dinner at other shelters before, and Jagger wanted to do the same at Strachan. He coordinated with the staff and a few months later, a Christmas dinner was held too. In early 2017, he and a small group began Sunday dinner at Strachan twice a month. Since March, Jagger and his group have been doing weekly dinners, cooking and serving meals every Sunday, rain or shine.
It's part of the neighbourhood's routine.
Liberty Village Cares began in 2015 as a small group. Now, it's a network of over 1,000 volunteers, businesses, and restaurants that includes people from Stouffville, Brampton, and Keswick. What surprises Jagger more than the growth of his initiative is the effect he's had on the residents at Strachan.
When I first stated it was to give an opportunity for the community to volunteer. I forgot about the impact it has. Even when they [residents] meet a volunteer for the first time, the amount of gratitude they express...they say it very genuinely, they say it with care, and they say it with repect and that's a nice thing-- Jagger
Along with weekly dinners and donations fo clothing, toiletries and non-perishables, Jagger and his team have also held their first fundraiser for Homes First, raising money for the residents of Strachan House. This past Christmas they donated comforters for all 88 people living in the residence and on Christmas Day, treated everyone to a meal from McDonald's.
He recalls a time when a new volunteer came to serve Sunday dinner and met with the residents. The volunteer came back to Jagger and repeated what one resident said.
Thank you for coming because we know people in the neighbourhood don't want us here but you come and you treat us like real people.
Thank You Liberty Village Cares for being such great volunteers and friends of Homes First!