• Christine Nayler

Barrie's Breakfast to Go

After Ryan's passing we knew we wanted to start an organization to honour Ryan's memory and mission. We knew we wanted to both advocate for and support people struggling with mental illness, substance use issues and homelessness. What that organization would look like we weren't exactly sure, but from the start we knew it would be called Ryan's Hope. Hope is such an important thing when you are struggling and through all the adversity and struggles of his life Ryan managed to find some hope to cling to.

What we knew about Ryan's Hope was that we didn't want it to be a duplication of service. We wanted it to fill in and bridge gaps that were there so that life might be a little bit brighter and hope might be a little bit easier to find. Thus I began talking to those doing front line outreach in the community to find out where the gaps were. Through these conversations I found that there was an immediate gap to be filled. BREAKFAST!!!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet for our most vulnerable residents, those unsheltered in Barrie, no one was doing anything to meet this immediate need. This is where Tom and I jumped in. We used to volunteer for the breakfast shift at Barrie Out of The Cold and we are both early birds so serving up some breakfast with a smile was something we knew we could manage. It was a way we could both honour Ryan and support those that are most struggling in our community. What better way could there be to start off Ryan's Hope.

Originally we thought it would be just us, by ourselves serving up breakfast a few days a week outside the warming centre. This quickly changed. After seeing how great the need was for such a program and knowing we could not sustain it on our own I put a call out on social media, and the community of Barrie answered that call. I could not have anticipated the beautiful response we would receive. Donations of food and offers of money soon came pouring in. Our kitchen was too small to hold everything we received and we were not set up to accept financial donations. This is where our church came in and our breakfast program quickly became a ministry of our Outreach program at Burton Avenue United Church.

We are only halfway into our second week but the support keeps pouring in. We have already received lots of media attention which is wonderful. It has helped us to gain support. Barrie's Breakfast To Go program is truly a testament to what a community can do when they come together. Every day as more people learn about our program we serve up breakfast with a smile to more and more people. What better way is there to start the day than starting off someone else's day with some nourishment, a hot cup of coffee and some conversation. This program serves up food but it also serves up hope, and offers kindness, compassion and community. I know Ryan is looking down on us smiling and hopefully saying, 'You did good Mom." Thank you Ryan for continuing to be my guiding light and giving me strength to get out there and do something to make the world a little brighter each day.

Here is some of the media coverage our program has received so far.

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