The Mustard Seed looking to bloom with ambitious plans

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
February 9, 2019 - 2:00pm

The remainder of 2019 and beyond is set to be very noteworthy for The Mustard Seed in Red Deer.

Working on the basis of three pillars – basic services, health & wellness, and housing – the Riverside Meadows-based agency wants to be a major part of the solution when it comes to Red Deer’s strenuous social issues.

In terms of basic services, The Mustard Seed continues to offer meals to the homeless multiple nights each week, as well as with its school lunch program. Clothing donations are always accepted, and those in charge are part of the collaborative advocacy for increased funding for supports to help the city’s most vulnerable.

Scott Tilbury, Manager of Fund Development, says the organization is taking on health and wellness by installing a new clinic at their current location.

“Not only do we hope to help the most vulnerable that come in our door every day, we also want to provide an extension to other families in this community that are unable to access services, or may not have a health card, or a doctor, or can’t get in to see the doctor in time,” he says.

Expected to open within three months, the clinic will service individuals struggling with trauma and mental health concerns, among other things.

“We’re working with Alberta Health Services, the Primary Care Network, and we have an advisory council who will oversee the renovation of this room,” Tilbury says of the current office space. “We have already identified some volunteer doctors and nurse practitioners that would like to schedule to help those in need.”

Following that up is putting a dent in the crunch for affordable housing as The Mustard Seed is currently working towards a 25-unit complex which may consist of apartment-like suites or micro-housing.

“This will help our guests and provide wrap-around services and security in a neighbourhood that will be accepted by the city, and we hope that we will be able to identify getting land through The City shortly,” Tilbury continues.

He projects they’ll need to raise $1 million before it becomes a reality like the housing already offered by The Mustard Seed in Edmonton and Calgary.

Tilbury says that at the end of the day, the agency wants to grow its relationship with the community, and it believes that’s been accomplished to some extent over the last year.

“We are filling a huge gap as it relates to the most vulnerable and to children in need with the poverty rate what it is in this city, and we’re seeing that grow,” he states.

“What we’ve tried to do is understand and listen to the concerns and challenges of the residents, and we’ve tried to make some changes. We can control what is taking place on our property, but any citizen is allowed in the city park next to us, so that poses a challenge.”

Tilbury says despite that, he believes the majority of concerns from residents have been misunderstandings, adding that The Mustard Seed has a long way to go in terms of providing the proper education to people in the area.

"We have seen over the last year a growth in the relationship between The Mustard Seed and the Riverside Meadows Community Association whereby community association people are taking part in things that we’re doing here," Tilbury concludes. "They have come to say that, 'You're not the problem,' and that they understand we’re trying to help."

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