Easter Monday was a holiday for some but for Lauraine Bailie her lunchtime job at the Soupateria was much the same as it has been for the last 21 years.
And she could not have been happier.
That’s because she and the more than 20 other volunteers working that day once again had a chance to open their hearts to the city’s less fortunate to serve them a hot meal.
On this day, one of four times a year it happens, visitors got to dine on turkey, ham, gravy, vegetables and mashed potatoes and even a cabbage roll or two during a sit-down meal.
“For these people it’s home, this is their family and we want to make it as homey as we can,” said Bailie, during a break in the kitchen work as diners walked by touching her on the shoulder and wishing her a ‘Happy Easter.’ “We want them to come in and relax, enjoy their meals and their friends.
“The thing is you treat people with the dignity they deserve because that’s the way we all want to be treated and it’s amazing what difference a smile makes and just having somebody who cares.”
For people like Eileen Paul, sitting at the table in her wheelchair, that is a very important part of the reason she was at the Soupateria.
“People look like they’re enjoying it, being served with respect,” said Paul who added she couldn’t say thanks enough to the volunteers. “I can also have a meal with the rest of the people and that’s important because if I wasn’t here I’d be home, alone.”
The other sit-down meal times are New Years Day, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving.
“It’s giving back to the community there’s a need and we know there’s a need because our numbers go up every year. Last year we served over 49,000 lunches,” said Bailie. “We hear how much those coming in enjoyed. It they appreciate everything that we do.
“Everybody has a story and there but for the grace of God go you and I, and for a lot of people there are choices. Do I have a roof over my head or do I eat?”