On-the-Ground Community

“I have experienced moments of profound connection that have stayed with me long after the visit has ended. I have at times been challenged to question my life’s priorities. There have been other times when I have been deeply moved. Why do I do this? Is it to bring kindness and caring into the lives of others? I suppose that is part of it. But I also realize that it has much to do with what I learn about life, humility and basic human connection.”

– Team member

Visits to boarding homes are arranged through connection with homeowners, often made through word of mouth or suggestions from social workers. This type of connection is unique in that BHM team members are guests to private homes. Though team members have thus far always been welcomed into the homes, they remain guests and may be asked to leave at any time — this dynamic is crucial as we build and maintain relationships of equality and respect.

Teams generally visit homes every two weeks. Visits last between one and two hours and center around sharing snacks and drinks. There is often some form of communal discussion, singing, and / or prayer. Many houses have been visited for over a decade and have formed distinct forms of gathering; however, all share their commitment to recognize and attend to the holiness of each person.

The visit is profound, but casual. Activities and conversation are not forced, allowing the community to unfold in holy creativity. During the visit people will come and go—restlessness can be a part of illness. Residents, of course, are not required to attend the visits at all. It is their home, they can move about as they please. During the visits there is laughter, joy, kind affirmations, confessions of sadness, and deeply philosophic and theological exchanges—BHM volunteers participate in this rich bustling of human connection and decades-long friendships emerge.

Volunteers are primarily members of Toronto’s faith communities. Teams consist of two to five people, and new members are asked to begin with a year-long commitment to BHM. Many residents have experienced the pain of abandonment(s), and so we emphasize the importance of consistency in schedule and attendance.

If you are interested in joining an existing team or forming one of your own, please email: boardinghomesministry@gmail.com