Saturday Grand Opening Will Launch Coventry Relief Kitchen in Colborne

In Community

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Organizers are still aghast that it could all come together within less than eight months but, after Saturday’s grand opening, the Coventry Relief Kitchen in Colborne will be serving up a hot dinner Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

A sort of dry-run meal was held Wednesday night for supporters and volunteers to see how it will work. Volunteers dished up home-made scalloped potatoes, ham, mixed vegetables and baked beans, with a nice pineapple glaze drizzled over the ham if you like. Buns and condiments are on a nearby table. For later, there is a coffee table with coffee and tea and a dessert table with cakes and cookies (along with a donation box, if you can help out).

They even welcomed a couple of special guests – Northumberland-Peterborough South MP Philip Lawrence and Cramahe Township Mayor Mandy Martin breezing in for a hot meal after a long day of county council.

Go in the back door of the Colborne Pentecostal Church at 89 Division St., then down a short flight of stairs to see the basement space that has been donated for this project. It is bright and freshly painted. A children’s play area lies beyond the dining area, along with a take-a-book-leave-a-book shelf and some assistive devices made available by the Cobourg Odd Fellows’ Humanitarian Services project.

And, as volunteer Bill Huras reiterated, it has all fallen into place since January, when volunteer Johanna Hill acted on the call she felt – when she believed God was asking her to open a soup kitchen.

“I said no,” Hill recalled.

“I’ve been a house painter for 25 years, a PSW for six years, a school-bus driver for six years, now you want me to open up a soup kitchen? I don’t know how that works, I don’t know how to organize this.

“He said, ‘You don’t have to. I will.’”

Hill talked with a few people she knew, and they were glad to get on board.

“We had nothing, but we had a vision,” Huras said of their mission to provide nourishing meals and fellowship for all who will accept, with a special focus on two groups – those whose finances are stretched and those who may feel isolated and crave contact with others.

They met with MP Lawrence Jan. 19 to discuss how to go about applying for grants (which generally go to longer-lived and more-established organizations), but did not stop there. They made the rounds and asked for support, and their success was amazing.

“The doors started opening, we started getting phone calls,” Hill said – like the one from the Peterborough businessman closing down his pizza parlour with cabinetry to donate. Colborne’s Cam Tran donated a bunch of skids she fashioned into shelving. And they were delighted to luck into an actual location when Pastor Sid Benson donated the space at the church, just across the street from the Keeler Centre (though she stresses that Coventry is not affiliated with any particular church).

“It puts me in awe, all the things that have happened in a short period of time,” she said.

“Everything here is donated, right down to the paint on the floor,” Huras said.

Professionals like plumbers and electricians have donated their labour, Colborne’s 30-plus businesses came across with about $6,000, the Colborne Legion bought their new freezer, Home Hardware replaced the old barbecue they had been using throughout the year for fundraisers (not to mention the Brighton propane dealership that donated three tanks), and someone even left several giant zucchinis on his doorstep for their use.

“Small-town word of mouth,” he summed up.

Over these busy months, the economic news has not been good, and the community has lost its only grocery story with the destruction of the Foodland in a fire. But for the Coventry Relief Kitchen, things have fallen into place.

And mere hours before Wednesday’s soft opening, the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit completed their inspection and gave them the all-clear.

Huras showed Lawrence around when he arrived to present a certificate congratulating them on the accomplishment, which comes when it is needed most.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” he said.

“It’s a big part of the reason why we all come together, work together to help each other address these difficult times.

“On behalf of the Federal government of Canada, I congratulate the members of the board and everyone associated with it.”

Lawrence apologized in advance for missing Saturday’s grand opening, but Martin will be there to perform the official ribbon cutting and enjoy the lunch. The event runs from 1 to 3 p.m., and everyone is welcome.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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