Boarding Homes Ministry (BHM) was founded in 1996 by the Reverend Rodger Hunter, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Rev. Hunter spent his whole ministerial career devoted to caring community with the people of inner city Toronto. After working as a chaplain in a homeless shelter, he recognized an unmet need: the for-profit housing that sprang up after the mass elimination of beds in psychiatric facilities. Here, in the city’s boarding homes, people were often isolated and lonely. Rev. Hunter met these people right where they were.
He established Boarding Homes Ministry to build and strengthen ties of community between residents and teams of volunteers. Over the years, this ministry grew to include teams throughout downtown Toronto and southwestern Ontario. Many of these teams are still in operation, and many of the devoted volunteers have remained steadfast in their commitment to residents for twenty years or more. Rodger would point out that a good number of our volunteers were able to see the residents more often than their own adult children who had moved away. The ties of faithfulness that are built in our communities come to resemble ties of kinship.
Rodger was a faithful friend and passionate advocate of the residents until the end of his life, in Spring 2017. Our communities remember him fondly and frequently.
The Board of Directors of Boarding Homes Ministry decided to continue Rodger’s legacy, and that the Ministry should carry on its work. In January of 2018, the board selected Kate McGee for the position of Executive Director and Chaplain. Kate worked with the ministry for three years during her Master of Divinity, and worked closely with our community under Rodger’s mentorship. Kate will lead BHM toward a sustainable future, while remaining faithful to Rodger’s vision.
In the years to come, Boarding Homes Ministry has challenges to overcome, and a wonderful network of supporters and resources to draw on in the process of growth. We remain faithful and committed to our boarding home residents, to our Presbyterian values and heritage, and to Rodger’s original and transformative vision for caring community. Building on this foundation, we will continue the work of inclusion by expanding cooperation with members of other faith communities and continue to offer intuitive and innovative programs to address spiritual needs related to mental health in our community.