Rev. Canon Joan Cavanaugh-Clark sits at her kitchen table, with a physical day planner as well as one on her phone.
She’s got a newspaper interview at 10 a.m., then an Anglican Church women’s lunch at noon, Zoom calls at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and dinner out with husband Al’s car club. It’s a relatively light day for the woman who generally averages 12-hour work days.
The Diabetes Canada truck pulls up next to the manse, to pick up excess items from St. Paul’s Anglican Church thrift shop, and Deacon Martha Waind – whom Rev. Joan calls her “right hand” – goes to take care of that.
Despite the day planners, Rev. Joan said, “there is very little organization to my day, which I’ve learned to live with because I’m pretty organized, things just come up, so I’ve learned to be flexible.”
She’s asked to reflect on the past year, and what she deems to be accomplishments, thanks to the thrift shop and The Gathering Place on Bobcaygeon Road.
They re-opened the newly-expanded thrift shop in February, 2022, after being closed because of COVID restrictions. Rev. Joan said it didn’t take long for donations to start coming in. She notes the money raised from the thrift shop is not used for the operating costs of the church.
She said they were able to “share $27,000 from their abundance” with the community last year. They donated $10,000 to Places for People. Other donors have included Fuel for Warmth and Remedy’sRx to help with clients who could not afford medications. Every year, they give to the Bishop McAllister Anglican Church School in Africa, an orphanage for kids who have lost their parents to AIDS. They also purchased a fridge for a local medical centre.
Dr. Nell Thomas said the fridge was a perfect example of Rev. Joan’s ability to see a problem and find a solution. Quickly. She recalled her office was in a bit of a crisis because their vaccine fridge was malfunctioning. Rev. Joan and husband, Al, drove to Haliburton and bought a new fridge and arranged for Rev. Joan’s son-in-law to help them deliver it to the medical centre in Minden that very day.
Dr. Thomas added that former crisis worker, Andrew Hodson, who is now working for Jamie Schmale’s office, was her go-to guy for follow-up on crises, people experiencing physical or mental abuse, not having food, addiction issues or being suicidal.
“I found since Andrew’s departure, more and more, I think, ‘I bet Rev. John could help’.”
And, she has, with Deacon Martha and Al. For example, they assisted a person who was homeless and living in a tent. They’ve bought gas cards for people, driven patients to appointments and the pharmacy for medicine, helped people out of financial jams and made important connections.
“These are stories that are profoundly significant because these are really society’s downtrodden individuals that could easily be in the gutter or in the back wood,” Dr. Thomas said.
The Gathering Place
Rev. Joan’s other baby is The Gathering Place on Bobcaygeon Road in downtown Minden
She said homelessness is an issue that leads to loneliness.
trying to create is a place where people can come with no strings attached. They know it’s a God-centered place. There’s Bibles. But we have computers. We have the internet. We say it’s a place for the young, the old, the bold and the shy.”
It’s open Wednesday to Friday. They are starting classes in January, things such as sign language, art, and knitting. They are looking for volunteers and have designed a course so helpers have the sensitivity that goes along with that type of work.
Rev. Joan said she’s never been about pushing God at people but, “it certainly wouldn’t trouble me if people came into a relationship of faith.”
She recalls how one man told her he didn’t believe in God, but donated $3,000 because Rev. Joan did not force God down his throat and he believed in the work she was doing.
Through it all, Rev. Joan said it’s not her, Al, or Deacon Waind that deserve the credit.
“It’s not us doing it. It’s what the Lord calls us to do.”