Unique housing option opens up for Calgary students
The Mustard Seed is opening its doors to students via its new missional housing initiative.
Launched in early September, the program will introduce a total of 18 post-secondary students to the downtown shelter’s regular community.
“Anyone who wants to go into a caring profession … this would be a very unique place for student development,” said Byron Bradley, the Seed’s student ministries manager. “You’re going to school. You’re in a program, but you’re living in a community around people that you’re going to in turn offer your professional services to in your career.”
For $400 per month – a cost that includes 10 meals a week, utilities and Internet access – students can live on the second floor of the Seed’s downtown center on 11th Avenue and Centre Street S.W. Students who have applied for, or currently attending, any post-secondary institution in Calgary are eligible for a spot.
The units are reminiscent of a hostel dorm. Bunks and lockers surround a kitchen table in a common area. A kitchen, bathroom and lounge are also included.
Only two students are signed up, but four more will have moved in by next semester.
While students can benefit from cheap rent in a central location, perhaps the true impact is on a personal level. “I see the guests lives (are) really blessed by the students who are willing to come here and volunteer,” said Bradley.
He said students who volunteer at the Seed develop a strong sense of community, and learn the ever-common story that emits from the centre.
“The folks here are no different than you and I. They are a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, just like we are,” he said.
Twenty-four-year-old Colin Langston is one of two students already signed up for the program. He is originally from Vernon, B.C., and will be headed into his first year at the U of C this winter. He found out about the housing option through a friend who works at the Seed, and signed up based on his belief in the Christian message.
“I think (a lot) of times, obviously, the homeless are marginalized and left out,” said Langston. “(It’s) a great opportunity, and something I’m looking forward to this year.” He said he had no expectations for his experience, but he looks forward to serving and building relationships with the guests.
Students interested in living at the Seed must note that it is recruiting mainly Christian students, because spiritual development is an aspect of the program.
The only requirement for those renting a place in the Seed is two hours of volunteer work per week.
Students should also know that The Mustard Seed is a dry building, and arrangements should be made for another place to stay after a night at the bar – simply because many of the guests are recovering from alcoholism.