Story by MK Keown

Christine Finley, 57, has been accessing the services of the Downtown Mission for 36 years, nearly its entire lifespan (the mission celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012). She is deeply woven into the fabric of the place and knows many people in the dining hall. Finley seems to have a designated spot, at the edge of one of the long tables, with the same core group of women who chat excitedly before, during and after lunch. She also has a voracious appetite for word-search and crossword puzzles. She laughs often, and seems to enjoy the mission’s soulful camaraderie as much as she does its nourishing meals.

One of 10 children, Finley grew up on a farm in Essex County. Now living in the urban core with her boyfriend, Howard, she is the resident helper at the Downtown Mission during the busy times of spring and summer.

“It keeps me busy,” she says. “Otherwise, I have nothing to do.”

Finley arrives each day at 8:30 a.m. She participates in monthly birthday bingo games, volunteers with distributing the quarterly newsletter and fundraises on behalf of the mission. It is clear Finley relies on the Downtown Mission for more than a hot daily meal. It is a lifeline — a means to activity, social life and community involvement.

You can help us make a difference in the lives of people like Christine. Get involved with the DTM today!

Photo: MK Keown