St. Andrew’s, DeWinton, increases support for women’s shelter

DeWinton United Church supports Rowan House
Pictured are Mark Dutkoski, St. Andrew’s Board Chair with Sarah Davis and Olivia Thiessen, Rowan House Women’s Shelter at Outdoor worship service.

As fund-raising initiatives have been curtailed through the pandemic so have charitable contributions to worthy causes traditionally supported by Communities of Faith. Congregations struggle to meet their own budgets

St. Andrew’s United Church in De Winton usually hosts a Mother’s Day Tea in May with proceeds going to the local Women’s Shelter in High River – Rowan House. Aware that domestic abuse is on the rise, St. Andrew’s still wanted to do something to support Rowan House.

St. Andrew’s in De Winton, 15 minutes south of Calgary, is a small Community of Faith with a Big Heart. Anywhere from 15-25 meet on an average Sunday. They also have decided that now, more than ever, is the time to show that the church is here to be generous and compassionate toward those in need. But what to do?

The community decided to honour what they had budgeted for Rowan House for the year, even though they would not be able to fund-raise that money. Having budgeted $3200.00 to go to Rowan House they decided to put the word out to the congregation that whatever the congregation was able to contribute personally would be matched through the budget. The congregation stepped up and surpassed the $3200.00, resulting in an $8083.00 donation to Rowan House, more than twice what they would have contributed normally. They presented the money to Rowan House on July 16th at an outdoor drive-in service.

Sarah Davis, Resource Development Coordinator for Rowan House, received the donation, noted that although need is on the rise, Rowan House has had to reduce capacity due to CoVid in order to protect residents. They are looking at alternative places to utilize so they don’t have to turn people away. The shelter recently had its first positive case of CoVid-19 but had prepared for that possibility and managed it well. No other residents were infected.

The donation from St. Andrew’s will go toward Preventative Education Programs where staff go into the community to teach about healthy relationships, bullying and how to be a good friend among other things.

Hearing that charitable organizations are struggling, and some closing, we felt that it was more important than ever to do what we can. We just have to be a little more creative. We are blessed to have the opportunity and will continue to look for ways to love our neighbours. Being a small Community of Faith not meeting together regularly for worship, fund-raising or programs doesn’t mean we can’t do meaningful things if we do it together. We are still the church.

Remaining at their cars, the congregation concluded the outdoor service by singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Wherever we are, we are joined together by this comforting refrain, “Jesus love me, this I know.”