On Monday September 29 we started our Winnipeg Urban Plunge in partnership with MB Mission. For many of us the idea of living in the inner city, learning about it and volunteering at different organizations was a new and exciting experience for us. For the majority of us, our experience with the inner city generally involved going there, volunteering for a few hours and then going back home. However, we were given the opportunity to stay overnight in the inner city after volunteer hours! For three days we slept at the Winnipeg City Vineyard church located in the heart of the inner city.
On Monday we were split up into small groups to travel around and visit different sites for a learning tour. In our groups we were given the freedom and encouragement to take our time and make conversations with people we met along the way. We had a chance to meet a variety of people filled with a passion to serve one another, and through them we were able to see God at work in the inner city. We were able to see such an array of different organizations such as: Salvation Army, Neechi Commons, transitional housing for refugees and the Indigenous Family Centre. God is present in the inner city through the people who dedicate their lives to the less fortunate by moving in, working with communities and sharing their stories of how God helped them build their life in a healthier way. The last part of the learning tour we were to buy our dinner with only three dollars each. Some people got 99 cent pizza, others got a few things from the local store, and some people pooled their money together and got something together.
The last two days we had the opportunity to volunteer at the places that were a part of our tour. In doing so we learned more in depth of what is happening in the inner city and how organizations are meeting the needs of their patrons.
Overall, we learned that getting to know people, listening to them and restoring their dignity is just as important as volunteering time in soup kitchens and giving donations.