Paul Logan has always seen himself as a helper.
So, when he saw a Facebook post on the group “COVID-19 Coming Together” from a woman who was stuck at home and wanted supplies to make bread and sandwiches for the homeless, Logan wanted to help.
“I’ve worked in social services enough to know that the homeless people are going to be the ones suffering the most in this kind of situation because all the agencies are shutting down that provide that kind of support,” says Logan in a telephone call with the Martlet.
Little did he know that after buying those sandwich materials, he would become inspired to build on that idea — eventually attracting hundreds of people to form a group that makes and delivers sandwiches for those without homes called “the Sandwich Initiative.”
Helping is nothing new to Logan, who started volunteering to run day camps with kids at the YMCA when he was 16. Later, Logan says, he officially got his start as a Child and Youth Worker when he graduated from Mohawk College in Hamilton in the 1980s.
After serving as an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Canada, working as a youth and family therapist in downtown Toronto, and eventually becoming a professor in Child and Youth Work at Humber College, Logan decided to move west to Victoria and found a job as a personal support worker for a man with autism.
“Because of my background, I helped with the administration of that team, it was a private home the parents had bought, 24/7 care,” Logan said. “I did that until I retired a week ago.”
A few days after getting baking supplies for the woman in the Facebook group, she told Logan that Reverend Al — who founded the Victoria Dandelion Society, an organization dedicated to helping those living on the street that delivers coffee and meals to Victoria’s homeless every morning at 5:30 a.m. — made a request for 200 sandwiches to be made for the homeless.
Although Logan admits he’s never done anything like organizing and creating meals for the homeless before, he was eager to meet Reverend Al’s call. So, he and a friend, Adam Irwin-Gunn, a co-creator of the Sandwich Initiative, made 210 sandwiches in under two hours.
The day Logan delivered his first sandwich was supposed to be his last day of work before he retired. He was set to enjoy retirement before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe and felt inspired to help out those in need.
But, while making the sandwiches in that initial batch, Logan talked to Irwin-Gunn about how they could get other people involved. The duo then decided to track their expenses and supplies, and decided to form a Facebook page in hopes of inspiring others to help those in need.
“I thought, geez, well if people know that for 100 PB&J sandwiches you can go out and spend $35-40 … more people might do this,” he said.
Since founding the Sandwich Initiative on March 26, the group’s Facebook page has gained over 200 members and received over $1 100 in donations.
For the first few days, Logan and Irwin-Gunn made and delivered the sandwiches themselves. But since the group’s popularity has risen, many families and individuals have started to make their own sandwiches, and Logan now mostly delivers them to the Mustard Seed. However, the process of making and delivering sandwiches still varies, with some volunteers offering to deliver the meals themselves.
“Some people will buy the supplies and make [the sandwiches] and they’ll deliver them. Some people will buy all the supplies, make them, and then I’ll pick them up and deliver them. And then some people I’ll provide the supplies the day before, and then pick them up and deliver them,” says Logan.
“I kind of look at myself as the hub of the wheel, and all these different people are spokes on the wheel.”
Logan says he has volunteers confirmed to make sandwiches up until April 24, and as of April 3 the group has made and delivered 1 625 sandwiches. At the end of his schedule, which currently runs until April 24, Logan has commitments to make 4 775 sandwiches. But if more volunteers show up he’s willing to keep the initiative going.
While the pandemic is still ravaging the world, Logan says he has been careful with sanitation in the food-preparation process — including issuing requests for himself and others to wear gloves, masks, and to sanitize jars while prepping.
His hope, however, is that the government or another larger institution will come up with the money to help organizations like the Mustard Seed or Cool Aid to ensure they can create safe and disease-free food for the homeless in a central location.
“Our goal was to create something sustainable, and now we have three weeks of promised sandwiches,” he said.
Although he should be enjoying retirement, Logan is inspired by the community support, eagerness to help, and the prospect of delivering thousands of sandwiches to those people in need.