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Jane Halton

2003 -2013 Staff

October 20, 2021

The “inner city” meant something very different where I came from and basically, I was terrified.

I was a very nervous grad student when I first visited Jacob’s Well during community kitchen in the fall of 2003. The “inner city” meant something very different where I came from and basically, I was terrified. Andy Shaver was coordinating some volunteers to cook and had to run up and downstairs to the Jubilee “kitchen.” He left Kara and me chopping vegetables and said “Well 2 women and big knives, you should be okay.” This did not help. 

(Jane is currently a wedding officiant and relationship coach at Young Hip & Married, as well as a dozen other things...)

Despite my ridiculous nerves, I continued to schlep down there every Tuesday to be scared while chopping vegetables. Micheal Spiers would often walk me to the bus after I was told he was the bouncer and would make an exceptional escort to the bus stop. This was correct. 

One day I went on a long walk with Joyce Rees (who was the First Director of Jacob’s Well) and the next thing I knew I was on staff and in charge of all the finances of a non-profit that simply prayed for their money. The good thing was there was very little money to manage, the bad thing was the money we did have hadn’t really been very organized since inception. Tom had written a song called “All Things Reconciled” and I would sing it loudly after each of the months’ books had been completed like a total accounting nerd. When I wasn’t doing the money stuff, I would always try to get paired up with the kind and confident Stephen Hitchcock when doing food deliveries instead of a new volunteer that would look to me for guidance. 

My one day a week grew to whole weeks, and into full years. Years full of unique, hard, joyful and life-altering experiences with many people whom I now call my dearest friends. I could spend hours recollecting all the memories. I observed Sara Bywaters-Baldwin patiently create incredible art with neighbours who would otherwise sit in silence. One morning, we helped keep a sex worker safe from her very angry pimp (I’m sure you aren’t supposed to say pimp anymore?) by locking him out (or her in?) the storefront. Another time, I took my new “friend” Dane (later my husband) with me to take Gustave downtown because he only banked at the original Royal Bank branch. Frank Schuminek and I visited someone imprisoned for a variety of creative cons. 

Gustave Paquet

Eventually, I learned to grow garlic from Tom Wuest and how to prune tomatoes from Dave Aupperlee. I watched Berto Jaramillio dry cheques in the oven (when everything got periodically soaked from floods upstairs) and I learned to leave his desk (and tabs) alone despite all my urges. I discovered that my new husband and I would make excellent housemates (and vice versa) to our brand new friend Rachel despite all the strange looks we got when we told people she was moving into our 2 bedroom apartment. I listened to Duane explain he found brand new Mavi jeans and an iguana while dumpster diving that day. 

Although my role at Jacob’s Well changed from who knows what to Community Coordinator to who knows what again, I continued to have different and memorable experiences every day. I watched Dawn Humphreys astonish the bank tellers with her Cantonese and pray for someone on the street. I learned about the layers of marginalization from Joyce Rees - a concept that was new to most of us back then. I went to the funeral of the oldest person I’ve ever known, Pauline Fell. I could share hundreds more unique stories involving dozens more people I love. And when I look back on my ten years at Jacob’s Well, the relationships I made doing all of these mundane and meaningful things are what I will treasure forever.



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