On Monday May 8, Soul Shine Magazine and Axe Music teamed up to show their support for The Mustard Seed Street Ministry, a long standing institution in the Calgary community. Established over two decades ago, The Seed works with the city's homeless to help them "survive and thrive" and improve all aspects of their lives.
The "survive" approach includes The Seed's soup kitchen and free store stocked with donated items such as clothing and personal hygiene products. The next level of The Seed's work, "thrive," includes a series of progressive programs and training. With an entire building dedicated to learning called the Creative Centre, the Seed helps people gain their GED, trains them for industrial jobs, and also helps them complete university courses for credit.
Executive Director and Founder Pat Nixon says The Seed is always expanding their programs, which along with the education aspect, includes worship services, adventure trips, and weekly jam sessions. They've also recently acquired a new complex in the countryside called Mountain Air Lodge, which allows patrons to escape to a healthier environment.
"I always thought that the church and community can work together to help the inner city," Nixon said, who ironically was once a street kid himself. He opened The Mustard Seed in 1984, and he still says of the non-profit organization, "There's no where else I want to be."
The stairwell that Nixon suggested for the Soul Shine photo-op is a perfect example of what he and other volunteers (whose numbers reached nearly 10,000 last year) are trying to accomplish. Brightly painted walls adorn the stairwell, which Nixon calls the "Reality Wall."
A group of street kids who were doing graffiti on the outside walls were invited by Nixon to paint "whatever they wanted" on the wall, the result being the brightly coloured collage of faces. Nixon explained that unfortunately, one of the boys who contributed to the art ended up killing himself not far from The Seed.
He says the incident and stairwell serve as a reminder. "We won't win them all and we have to understand that," Nixon said. "You have to know that to do this type of work."
With all they do for the community, it's no wonder Soul Shine and Axe Music wanted to contribute to The Seed. Brian Cymbaluk, Director of Operations for Axe Music, agreed instantly to help The Seed's music ministry by donating a quality guitar from their stores. Tomislav Crnkovic, an Assistant Manager at Axe Music, was on site to donate the Tanglwood Guitar on Axe's behalf and said, "Most music stores spend money on advertising; we do this sort of donating. It's way better and the people get something out of it. This is what we do for the community."
The guitar will definitely come in handy at the centre, as groups get together and jam every Tuesday night, and during the worship service on Sundays. Soul Shine also donated personal hygiene products as needed on The Seed's online "Wish List", to be distributed to patrons through the Seed Store.
For more information on The Mustard Seed and their work in Calgary, go to www.theseed.ca