Listen in as Gord Letkeman, Meg and Peter L. Suderman, and Jean Funk offer our host Kyle Rudge an inside scoop on the Plum Coulee MCC Warehouse.
Threads, formerly known as Word and Deed, was established in April 2007. It is a 15-minute radio program by KR Words featuring the work of MCC in Manitoba and around the world. Threads broadcasts on CFAM AM 950, CHSM AM 1250 and CHRB AM 1220 at 8:45 am on the first Sunday of the month.
Kyle Rudge (0:02):
It begins with a single thread, woven through other thread, and then another, and another until we have a single piece of fabric. That fabric is stretched, cut and stitched together with another just like it. [MUSIC]
This process is repeated over and over and over until we have a beautiful tapestry that all began with a single thread. Welcome to MCC Threads, where we look closely at how our stories in Manitoba weave together with the stories of MCC and its partners around the world.
If we took a few minutes drive east of Winkler on Hwy 14, we would find ourselves pretty quickly in the town of Plum Coulee. Take a left off of Railway Avenue and continue past that campground and Sunset Beach, and we'll find the MCC Resource Centre.
Gord Letkeman (01:10):
Hi, I'm Gordon Letkeman, uh, material resources manager in the Plum Coulee Warehouse for MCC.
Kyle Rudge (01:16):
Manitoba's staging ground for gathering supplies to be sent to those who need it most through MCC.
Gord Letkeman (01:22):
It's a collection point for in southern Manitoba for comforters, school kits, hygiene kits, relief kits, etcetera. Here, these items are checked and packed up to be sent to the New Hamburg, uh, Central Warehouse for MCC that will be sending these items out to different countries that MCC works in.
Kyle Rudge (01:42):
The MCC resource centres are an important part to the history of MCC. It's kind of how it all began. Helping those in need in Ukraine with practical aid 101 years ago. Gord has worked at the MCC Resource Centre for 15 years now.
Gord Letkeman (02:01):
I have, uh, a number of blankets that have, or comforters that have come in, uh, over February. Um, they've been gathering here because of COVID. I haven't had volunteers in here and they've just started coming back in. So, uh, we're visibly folding these comforters, bailing them, wrapping them and getting them ready to ship out.
Kyle Rudge (02:21):
The thousands upon thousands of blankets, school kits and so much more that are shipped out of here in Manitoba is not the work of one person and one person alone. No, not at all. Instead there are a bunch, uh, not at all. No, not at all. Instead there are benevolent volunteers who graciously give their time, energy, and skills to make this all possible.
Meg Suderman (02:45):
Hey, I'm Meg Suderman from Winkler.
Peter L. Suderman (02:48):
I'm Peter L. Suderman.
Jean Funk (02:48):
My name is Jean Funk. I work at the, uh, Plum Coulee Resource Centre. The warehouse as we sometimes call it.
Kyle Rudge (02:56):
Admittedly, it wasn't hard to find a volunteer from the resource centre to speak to. The love of the place, the environment, the culture is truly abundant.
Meg Suderman (03:03):
Uh, I've been folding blankets the whole time. Uh, few times that I was helping with the sewing, but mostly folding blankets. And I remember the first years, uh, the bailer was broken or they were building a new one. I'm not sure. And they had a whole semi load of wet blankets from a different organization. And we had to reopen. We had to open all those bails and redo them and then stack them against the wall until the bailer was ready. That's a memory I have.
Kyle Rudge (03:43):
Meg and PL Suderman don't come into the warehouse regularly anymore on account of PL's health. Although they do help out from home whenever or however they can.
Peter L. Suderman (03:53):
Uh, no I've been doing different things too. We, we do cut, uh, thousands of books. We cut off the spine and, and the cover. And then the, the rest goes for recycling, for making, uh, insulation. So I've been doing that quite a bit too.
Kyle Rudge (04:18):
Like many of the older volunteers at the MCC Resource Centre, Meg's MCC roots run deep.
Meg Suderman (04:24):
Oh yeah. Yeah. My parents came from Russia in 1923. So no we've known. I have known about, uh, MCC, I think all my life. Um, my dad or my parents also had a depot in their garage and collected clothing and somebody took it to Winnipeg and that was in the probably late sixties.
Kyle Rudge (04:50):
Another volunteer that has been in the warehouse regularly is Jean Funk. She's been working at the resource centre for 17 years now. However, the first nine of those years she worked while her residence was technically in Europe.
Jean Funk (05:03):
Yeah. For a while I was living in Europe. So when I would come to visit my mother and my family, I would, uh, work here, part-time at the centre. So that's why I say intermittently. Yeah. I mean, it was, uh, the main reason was to be with my mother and my family. Right. But my mother worked here. So then I would work here with her. So it's through her that I, uh, even heard about this place. She started, uh, working here in 2000, um, 2005 when it first opened. And, uh, there were no tables here. She worked on the floor, spreading out fabric and pinning it together and sewing it up and it was quite primitive here then, but it's, it's, uh, progressed a lot. So it's a nice place to work now.
Kyle Rudge (05:49):
However, as Jean's mother aged, she wasn't able to go in and help, but just like Meg and PL we heard from earlier, her desire to help and serve did not go away.
Jean Funk (05:58):
Well, even after my mom finished working here, which was about age 94, she went to, uh, an, uh, retirement home for, for elderly. And she said, well, bring along some stuff. Maybe I can help you open some seams, uh, uh, uh, of either clothing or sheets or whatever has been donated. So we did that, uh, as well. So, I mean, she didn't work here at the resource centre anymore, but she was still working, you know, so, uh, and she was a, an elderly lady and she, yeah, is very inspirational in that way.
Kyle Rudge (06:33):
The MCC Resource Centre will see about 10 to 12 volunteers during a weekday, but they can always use more volunteers.
Gord Letkeman (06:41):
Uh, there's always room for some more. Um, I, don't, not too many people, well, not too many people know this, but we are also into book recycling here. So, uh, a lot of books come in, we take off the covers and get them ready for the North Star Fibre in, uh, Morden who does the shredding and then repurposes it as blow insulation for your houses. So it's one way to keep the books out of the landfill and it's a green item that MCC is sort of into. So, uh, yeah, so we do quite a bit of that here too.
Kyle Rudge (07:14):
And when it comes to volunteers, Gord does not play favourites. I know I asked.
Gord Letkeman (07:20):
They're all my favorite <laugh> it's, it's like another family to me. I, I love coming to work with these people, you know, give their time, their energy, their willingness, you know, even into their eighties, they are still willing to give their time to do this, these things. So the, um, yeah, it's, it's amazing.
Kyle Rudge (07:40):
Jobs can include everything from sewing and making blankets, folding them, bailing them, compiling school kits, and many other things that all really do make a difference.
Gord Letkeman (07:48):
We've got a great managers, warehouse managers group across North America here across the provinces and down into the states. And we get together every month for monthly meetings. And then, uh, once a year, we get together as physically to have meetings. And lately we've been going on like, uh, having our meetings in another country where MCC works. So we were fortunate to be in Jordan. Uh, what'd that be four years ago now. And yeah, we got to hand out school kits to the kids. Uh, we got to hand out relief kits and blankets to, to the Syrian refugees there. It was just, I mean, it was heart-wrenching. Like it was just, it was great moment to hand these out, but to see the need that is needed. So, it was, it really touched me. So, um, yeah, that was a, a great experience. And I had a, um, I remember way back when I started in June, um, my, my boss at that time said, well, you're gonna, we're gonna send you to Haiti in, in September. And I said, how do you know I'm gonna still be working for you guys. And he says, you will be <laugh>. And I went to Haiti just two years after the earthquake. And yeah, that was where I I'm I was hooked.
Jean Funk (09:13):
Well, at one time there, there was a lady here from one of the African countries and she said, she took one of the blankets and she wrapped it around herself. She said, this is how I would use it. And here we were always thinking, well, blankets is what you cover yourself with. Right. And when you go to bed or maybe you spread it on the floor for your baby to crawl on, but no, she used it as a cape. So now we have, uh, it's broadened our view as to what's the purpose of, of our blankets, uh, you know, what, what the purposes can be and to have the demonstration right there. Right. It was very clear, you know? So, uh, when we talk about making blankets, you know, they can be used for other things. They can be used for, for, um, for doors they can be used for, for walls, they can be used to cover windows.
Kyle Rudge (10:07):
The MCC Resource Centre in Plum Coulee is a special place in town and forms some incredible relationships around an incredible cause. The volunteer culture is light friendly and well,
Jean Funk (10:18):
Let's see, let's see. I, I don't know of any pranks that we've played on each other. No, I don't think so. It's a good idea though.
Kyle Rudge (10:28):
If you're interested in donating your time and energy or seeing what items are needed to be donated, the door is open for you to help make a difference. Visit mccmb.ca for more information on how you can get involved. MCC Threads is produced by KR Words with story assistance by Nikki Hamm Gwala. Thank you to Gord, Meg, PL and Jean for sharing your experience and your hearts with us. I'm Kyle Rudge and this is MCC Threads. [MUSIC]
Transcribed by https://www.temi.com/