Listen in as our host Kyle Rudge reflects back on the year through looking back at past Threads episodes as well as talking to MCC MB staff about their 2022 highlights.
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 (00:02):
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. This process is repeated over and over and over until we have a beautiful tapestry that all began with a single thread. Welcome to an 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. The snow has fallen, the music in stores has changed, and the anticipation of Christmas has begun. It's December, and it's been a very interesting year for MCC Manitoba as well as us, as Manitobans in general for Threads. This month I went across Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba and asked some of the staff what their highlights and stories were from the year. And I even have a few of my own from this very radio program that I'd like to revisit as we all reflect. We begin with MCC Thrift and Josue.
Josue Figueroa (01:26):
My name is Josue Figueroa, and I serve as the Director of Social Enterprise for MCC Manitoba here in Winnipeg.
Kyle Rudge (01:34):
This year was the 50th year anniversary of MCC Thrift's existence. It got its start in Altona back in 1972 and is now approximately 90 shops across Canada and the US and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the work of MCC around the world.
Kyle Rudge (01:50):
There's definitely one that stands out, and I actually share these at our AGM, but this is you know, as part of our 50th celebration for thrift, which it's marked in 2022. It was a story about volunteers in our thrift environment. And this is a favorite story for me just because it really highlights the backbone of our enterprise, and this happened in our Brandon shop. This is Elvira and Arnold. They've been volunteering at the Brandon shop since 2017, sorting school supplies and offering their expertise in many different ways. Their daughter-in-law, Amber and Christine have also volunteer at this shop. And Christine's grandmother, Esther Plett, she continues to be a volunteer at 85. And one of their family members, Laura was homeschooling her children, Ava and Thomas, and she will bring them to the shop as part of their homeschooling learning, you know, just to learn about giving back to the community, being a volunteer. She would've been six years old when she started there and when they were joining the shop as volunteers, they were given the title of school supply testers, you know, making sure their <laugh>, all the crayons work, and, you know, making sure the pencils were sharp and all that came with that. Years later, Christine's children, Anna and Emily, they were both having a sleepover with Ava, who at that point was nine, of course, at Grandma Elivira's house. And then Ava tells her younger cousins that their playtime next day will have to be short because she needed to go work, work at the thrift shop. And then, so Anna asked, "well how come I can't go?" And then from there, there was a new younger volunteer that came out from that conversation. And even her little sister Emily, she volunteers remotely with her mom building puzzles, making sure that they all have the pieces that are needed. And so to me, this is just fascinating, and I wish you could see the photo of the whole family there, but this is just a story of managers being creative and being open, but just learning that MCC Thrift offers that space for all generations, all abilities. You know, you can be 85, you can be three. It's always a place for you. So that was probably my favorite story.
Kyle Rudge (04:31):
In March, the anniversary of MCC Thrift, we spoke to Gerry Loewen, one of the daughters of the four women who started MCC Thrift.
Gerry Loewen (04:38):
All four women were a little ahead of their time. I mean, they really did this on their own. They really gave us the cue to sort of, you know, you can do anything you want and you can be your own person really.
Kyle Rudge (04:52):
Those thrift genes, as in genetics, not denim, I feel like I have to make that distinction, stayed with Gerry throughout the years so much that after her medical career, she found herself volunteering at a shop here in Winnipeg.
Gerry Loewen (05:06):
And I started volunteering very briefly at, at the MCC Thrift Shop on Selkirk Avenue. And that was because the church I go to, Charleswood Mennonite is very, has been, and is very involved with the thrift shop there. And it was something different and quite relatively soon, within a few months, I ended up being the manager because they wanted me to be the store manager. They were kind of going through a phase where there was one of the women was retiring from that. So I said yes, had a wonderful time at the shop on Selkirk Avenue. Those were good years. I learned how to do something different than nursing. It was wonderful.
Kyle Rudge (05:52):
From thrift, we shift our focus to peace and advocacy and our friend Marta.
Marta Bunnett Wiebe (05:57):
My name is Marta Bunnett Wiebe, and I am the coordinator of the Peace and Advocacy program for MCC Manitoba and I work out of the office in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Getting to witness the work of other people on climate to see the ways that others are responding to difficult conversations, to see others leaning into listening, into conversations about peace, those are the things that inspired me to see what others are doing and to find opportunities to come alongside and collaborate, to find partnerships and just to hear what others are doing. That really inspires me to keep going and to see the work continue and multiply with so many people working at it.
Kyle Rudge (06:50):
While we did speak to Marta on Threads earlier this year, I opted not to pull a memory from her episode and instead take us all the way back to February, where we met Maysoun and heard her story.
Maysoun Darweesh (07:01):
It started when I was a refugee with my family in Macau, China. That was, I believe, in late 2009 when we were facing deportation and we were political asylum [seekers]. Like there was no way that we would return to our country, and we were thinking how to find a refuge somewhere else.
Kyle Rudge (07:28):
Maysoun's journey continued for decades, and eventually she came here to Winnipeg and works for MCC Manitoba in the very program that brought her and her family here.
Maysoun Darweesh (07:39):
I was in direct contact with Brian Dyck at that time.
Kyle Rudge (07:43):
Brian Dick worked in Maysoun's current position at that time. He was the Migration and Resettlement Program Director.
Maysoun Darweesh (07:50):
We had emails between each other. I used to ask him things, so I knew Brian a while ago, so every time I see Brian I said, "you're my first friend here you know?" So, yeah he's been very, very, very helpful, like as always. I'm a faithful person, praise God, like I'm so grateful. You know what? If we arrive to Winnipeg safe and sound, I want to serve God through MCC. And he used to look at me and said, "yeah, why not?" I'm like, no, really, really, when I go there, I just wanna serve through MCC. I wanna do something, you know, through MCC. I love them so much and I think they're doing amazing stuff because just the idea, like you're able to communicate with the person who's reviewing the application, and making, you know, the connection between you and the sponsors who never ever seen you before. They just heard about your story from person you don't even know. You know the whole thing was like, "oh my goodness, what is going on?" I just want to do that.
Kyle Rudge (08:55):
Also, in late February, the world was shocked as Ukraine came under attack from Russia, given the first steps of Mennonite Central Committee as a whole started with aid to Ukraine, this hit us all very hard emotionally and spiritually.
Sophia Bezoplenko (09:10):
I'm Sophia Bezoplenko, and I am the Material Resources Coordinator with MCC Manitoba, working out of the Winnipeg office.
Kyle Rudge (09:18):
Material Resources was responsible for collecting material aid for the relief effort.
Sophia Bezoplenko (09:22):
You know, it really was incredible to see, you know, the generosity of people that wanted to help however they could you know, right from the beginning. So, you know, MCC was able to raise over 10 million dollars that were just, you know donated for Ukraine relief. You know, much of that was used for, at the beginning, you know, with in-country sort of distributions, helping partners to evacuate people, for example, provide, you know, emergency food supplies while we were, you know, as an MR Network trying to make plans for how to ship containers through a new route because there was really intense fighting in the Black Sea, which made it impossible to ship to our usual port in Odessa. But meanwhile, you know, people are still making comforters, checking in, asking about what kinds of kits are necessary. And so as we were kind of working on a plan through the spring, we were finally able to find a different route that docked in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Shipments were transported by trucks through Germany and Poland into Ukraine. And so in the summer we were able to get five containers of disaster relief supplies to our partners there. It really is wonderful to see that we can, you know, with an unexpected additional need this year, be able to still say yes to these requests and to help provide these really critical supplies to people in Ukraine.
Kyle Rudge (10:56):
Year after year, the generosity of Manitobans abounds. It makes sense that the executive director of MCC Manitoba Darryl Loewen's memory for the year revolved around exactly that.
Darryl Loewen (11:08):
I would name the MCC Manitoba Golf Tournament. A significant increase in golfer participation and funds raised. Likewise, Cycle Clear Lake, not a highest ever ridership, but nearly a highest ever fundraising total on a morning when the mosquitoes were carrying off small animals in the Riding Mountain forest. It was a beautiful, beautiful day and all kinds of fun. And now congregational visits on Sundays and weeknights and weekday afternoons. So much interest to engage with the mission and the ministry of relief, development and peace here in Manitoba and around the world.
Kyle Rudge (11:52):
Darryl does have a Christmas blessing for us to conclude, but before he does, I feel it's only fitting that I mention a gift option of [music] comfort and joy for your Christmas season. Shop, Mennonite Central Committee's Christmas gift giving guide for gifts that give twice like fruit trees or a Christmas cake, or support for girls education. Your gift will bring joy to the people that you love and transform lives around the world. Browse the guide at mccb.ca/christmas
Darryl Loewen (12:23):
At this time of year when so many take time to reflect on the year that has passed and the time that lies ahead. We give thanks and we issue prayers for that which our heart longs and with the arrival of the Prince of Peace, it's often a longing for peace. And 2022 has only increased that longing in so many hearts. And so I pray for peace in this world for those especially to whom it's so elusive. I pray for peace in the hearts and the homes of those in earshot of this voice. I bless those among you who seek to show hospitality to welcome the stranger, the sojourner, the foreigner, to give time and comfort to the lonely, the lost, the widow and the orphan. And I pray that kingdom comes.
Kyle Rudge (13:40):
Thanks to Darryl, Sophia, Marta, and Josue for sharing your memories. And thanks to all those this year who shared your stories of hope, inspiration, and peace with us. You can find past episodes from the year at mccb.ca/threads. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may your 2023 be one of peace and joy. I'm Kyle Rudge, and this is MCC Threads.
Transcribed by https://www.temi.com