For those who are alone or have nowhere else to go, the door is always open at the Penticton Soupateria
“It’s happy, it’s warm, it’s welcoming. It’s a feeling of family because basically it’s a community of extended family for people who normally attend the soup kitchen,” said Lorraine Bailey, past president of the Soupateria.
It is with those welcoming actions that hundreds find comfort in every day, especially during the holidays, including this Monday when they host their annual Thanksgiving dinner. A tradition for over 15 years, Bailey said there is no shortage of volunteers. Many offer their kitchen talents three months in advance to ensure others aren’t left behind. She said the community has always been generous offering support in the form of donated turkeys to desserts and all the trimmings.
“The dinners are for those in need,” said Bailey. “People who are in an economic situation where they can’t afford a turkey dinner at home, or they don’t have the facilities to cook a turkey dinner at home, or they’re by themselves.”
A regular at the dinner, Johnny I (who asked his last name not be used), said his favourite part of the day is the smell of turkey and all the trimmings wafting in the air. Thankful for what he is offered, he is giving back as a volunteer this year.
“It’s a great place to have a sit-down dinner like grandma used to make,” he said.
The Soupateria is open to serve lunch every day of the year, but for major holidays it becomes a haven for those who have nowhere else to go.
“It’s somewhere to go when you don’t have anywhere. It’s a social place; nice, calm, everyone gets along,” said Catherine Miller, who’s used Soupateria alongside her family in the past, but will be attending Thanksgiving by herself this year.
Expecting about 200 people to attend kitchen organizer Grauer has already put many hours into getting it all ready. Volunteering alongside him is Dawn Taman, the dining room organizer. She said no matter how many people show up, they will make sure they all get fed a good meal. Taman said for her the special ingredient is being able to volunteer her time for others.
“I just like to help people,” Taman said. “They’re very kind people, nice people, and they need a little bit of help, so whatever I can do I’ll do.”
The last special meal the Soupateria served was at Easter.
“These people have gone all summer and are ready to just sit down,” said Taman.
The hand up to those in need has become more of an issue recently. Joey Cyr, the community services supervisor at the Salvation Army in Penticton, said his organization’s food bank program sees about 4,000 people each month come through their doors, and that number remains steady through Thanksgiving. He said the Salvation Army is currently focusing it resources on December’s Christmas hamper program.
The feast at Soupateria is open to everybody and takes place at 150 Orchard Ave. between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 12.
Other sit-down meals throughout the year are held on Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Easter Monday.