It was hard to tell who was having more fun at the weekly soup and sandwich offering in Boitanio Park Sunday — the dozens of men and women in need who received the warm, home-cooked meal or those who served it up.
“It’s my favourite part of the week,” said Tim Hicks, as he handed out hot chocolate as one member of a team from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who deliver hot soups, hearty sandwiches and desserts every Sunday in the park to those in need.
“It gives me a real sense of community.”
As she served up bowlful after bowlful of her homemade turkey vegetable soup, volunteer and cook Ollie Martens smiled back at all the people who complimented her on her good cooking.
“I try and make it as good as possible,” Ollie said later, talking about the people she serves and how they inspire her to make her soup. “Just because they are down on their luck doesn’t mean they should have substandard food. I make the best soup I can.”
Ollie said she sees the humanity in all those who come out for a hot meal, and enjoys her time volunteering for St. Vincent De Paul with her husband Richard.
Using 14 loaves of bread, the group served up 100 sandwiches thanks to donations from Save-On-Foods and Safeway.
“We couldn’t do the ministry without them,” Hicks said of the generosity of local business.
It was cold and windy on Sunday, and those who received a meal expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the meal.
“This is pretty cool,” said Jim, who wound up staying in Williams Lake while hitchhiking through the area recently.
“I’m just wandering between jobs,” Jim said, noting he travels with a sleeping bag and tent but is currently crashing on the living room floor of a friend who offered him a place to stay out of the cold.
He said he works numerous different labourer jobs but lives on the road for the most part due to the feeling he often gets to move on.
“I get itchy feet I guess is the best way to describe it. I don’t know if it’s my mental health or what but I feel like I have to go and so I leave, even though I know what kind of misery there is ahead. There is adventure too, which I like, but it can also be hard.”
Free, hot meals are served up in the park every Sunday over the lunch hour and supplements the ongoing support provided by the Salvation Army in Williams Lake, which serves breakfast and lunch during the week daily as well as running the food bank.