A Door That Opened

16/01/2020

Almost every visit to Harvest starts like the old saying, “Give them a fish, feed them for a day.” Many people think it ends there. But sometimes, a visit to Harvest ends with teaching them how to fish…

After a decade living on the streets of Winnipeg, Rina and her partner Drew were hungry. Along with a lack of food, their supply of hope was long-lost in the never-ending battle to survive.

Then, in a move to be closer to a possible meal, they found an opportunity that would change their life trajectory.

Rina and Drew pitched their tent right outside Harvest. A staff member took notice, connected and brought them inside. The famished couple received the immediate nourishment they needed, and something they didn’t expect – an experience that would help them turn their lives around.

“We were homeless and hungry, and Winnipeg Harvest did not judge us,” said Rina. “They helped us and made us feel like family.”

Ordinary respect and non-judgmental acceptance can be a rare commodity on the hard streets of the city. But on this day, in the Winnipeg Harvest building on Winnipeg Avenue, it sparked candles of hope and change in Drew and Rina’s lives.

 “We started volunteering and giving back to the community that helped us,” said Rina.

A short time later, Rina and Drew started taking some of the life, training and social service programs that Harvest offers. Harvest offers more than 30 Work and Life-skills programs.  Drew took the Warehouse Training Program, where he learned computer and forklift skills, and Rina completed an extensive rehabilitation program. (Addictions had been a major contributor to their situation). The results were life-changing.

“Winnipeg Harvest doesn’t just feed you with food,” said Rina. “They feed your soul with hope.”

Rina and Drew got sober and were happily married. In 2016, Drew died of a heart attack unrelated to his previous addiction. But his final years were a triumph over a lifetime of challenges. Rina now has steady employment, and still volunteers for Harvest.