Stories of healing, community connections, and hope continue to pour out of Oak Table, including some from residential school survivors.
"Oak Table has been around for 42 years," says Glynis Quinn, the Executive Director at Oak Table. "We're finally going to be able to celebrate that this year with a dinner, which is great."
Oak Table is located in Osbourne Village at 107 Pulford Street. They are a part of Augustine Centre, housing an early learning centre with 92 children as well as the Augustine United Church.
"We serve people who are living on a fixed income, living below the poverty line, people who are experiencing homelessness, who live with mental health issues, who are experiencing isolation and need human connection. So it's a wide variety of people that we support."
Before she began working at Oak Table, Quinn retired from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in 2015.
From Six Months to Seven Years and Counting
"Oak Table was something I supported with goods and money prior. When I took retirement, I was tapped on the shoulder from someone who was the chair of Oak Table and asked me to help out for six months."
Quinn was initially tasked to help look for staff, working 20 hours a week.
"When that six months came to an end, I recognized that I worked in the field of advocating for people with intellectual disabilities my entire career and this was a group that really needed some advocacy. People fell through the cracks in terms of medical care, accessing food, accessing hygiene items. So when I was asked to stay on, move it up to full time, I was game for that."
Shortly after Quinn headed up a capital campaign that helped raise over $2 million for a space in the building that is uniquely Oak Table.
Stories from People Walking through the Doors at Oak Table
Oak Table is open five days a week as well as three evenings.
"We realized, when you don't have any money and you have long evenings ahead of you, you need something that is engaging your interest, to sometimes prevent people from the need to drink or do drugs."
One evening a week Oak Table offers BINGO, another a movie night, and the third evening they teach a cooking class.
They are also offering sharing circles for survivors of residential schools in the community.
"There's a lot of trauma that is intergenerational. One woman has been coming here for a number of years and as soon as she got a payout for being a residential school survivor, she arrived in my office with a cheque for $500."
The woman chose to purchase a phone for herself, clothing for her grandchildren, and then give a portion back to Oak Table.
"She said, 'I want to give this to Oak Table because you've not only been here for me but for my son. I couldn't have done it without you.' We have beautiful people here," says Quinn.
She shares another story of a man who is experiencing homelessness and coming to Oak Table since Quinn started.
"I have another guy who asked me for change for five dollars. He did dumpster diving just to get by. I gave him the change and he comes back with $3.67. I asked what it was for and he said, 'This is to help you pay rent. I know it costs you money to pay rent and I want to help. And I'd like a receipt.' He was so proud when he got the receipt with his name on it. You ask me why I'm here? That's why I'm here."
Oak Table is in need of donations to continue serving the community.
"We are always looking for men's and women's underwear," says Quinn. "I'll be frank. It's great to get those things in but then we have to store them. Sometimes the best aid to our guests is simply giving money. Here's why. We were able to partner with another business in the city, and have access to their manufacturer. The underwear that cost $32 in the store and we were paying $2/pair."
They are also in need of hygiene products and regular socks. To donate goods, people can drop it off at their location with a call ahead of time. Or people can donate a monetary amount online.