By Gord Bowes, News staff
A group of Mountain residents say their lives have been blessed since they came to Canada and they are now in a position to help others.
The five women — Ginelle Colorado, Michelle Ferguson, Bernice Ferguson, Alicia Clarke and Vanessa Bryan — have spent about 18 months preparing for their first charitable endeavour.
They formed Group Connect Hamilton, received charitable status and began working with entities such as Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre and Good Shepherd Centres to see where they could help most. They studied Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton reports and discovered there was a need in their own backyard, relatively speaking, on the Mountain.
Group Connect will soon be offering a breakfast program two Saturdays a month.
“We feel blessed and want to give back to the community,” says Michelle Ferguson.
Her family came from Guyana 26 years ago to escape a life of poverty. The other four members of Group Connect Hamilton also hail from Guyana.
The breakfast program, featuring hot food and continental-style offerings, will run from 8-10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month starting April 13. It is being hosted at St. Stephen-on-the-Mount, located at 625 Concession St.
There are many school breakfast programs in operation on the Mountain and some churches, including St. Stephen, hold free or low-cost lunches during the week, but there is a gap on Saturdays and Sundays in the upper city.
“Nobody does a weekend program here at all,” says Ferguson. “We’re trying to reach the statistically poor and the working poor.”
Group Connect Hamilton figures, based on the number of people who attend the St. Stephen lunches, they will help 100 to 120 people.
According to the budget they drew up during their preparation, it will take about $54,000 a year to run the breakfast program. That cost will be cut down thanks to free hall rental, food donations, no utility costs and a lot fundraising. They hope to run the program without dipping into their own pockets.
“We’ve already put a bit of our own money into the startup,” notes Ferguson. “I have faith we will be able to cover it.”
Sara Collyer of Neighbour to Neighbour Centre, which is supporting the breakfast program, says there is a need for such a program on the Mountain and would like to see such efforts expanded.
Last Saturday, Group Connect held a fundraiser to kick off their program. Another fundraiser — a pasta dinner — is being held April 6 from 4-6 p.m. at St. Stephen. Call 289-339-1071 for tickets.
Donations can also be made through the website groupconnecthamilton.com.