A church soup kitchen that was caught up in the demolition of the old Cloverdale mall is soldiering on, even as it hunts for a new permanent home.
The Cloverdale Korean Presbyterian Church – which had run its soup kitchen out of the mall from April 2010 right up until it was demolished in the winter – has taken to the streets to offer free food every Thursday at noon in Hawthorne Square.
Senior Minister Doo Je Kim says the needs of Cloverdale’s homeless, who he calls “our Friends Outside”, shouldn’t be forgotten, so the church moved the operation into the square.
“The Friends Outside shouldn’t be ignored,” he says. “They are a part of us, and we cannot ignore that.”
Volunteers come from all over Metro Vancouver to help out with preparing and serving the food, as well as entertaining lunchtime guests with music.
It’s not just Friends Outside who arrive for lunch – Kim says the kitchen serves local students and business people as well.
“We’re not just serving our Friends Outside, but all walks of life in this community,” he says.
An average week will see some 20 to 30 people lining up for lunch.
The food provided is delicious, with a hot meal, dessert and free coffee on tap. Everyone in attendance is treated with complete respect, and the atmosphere on the ground is jovial and fun. It’s a good time.
Businesses in the area have been helping out and offering their support, and some people have brought donations of food – one person stopped by to offer fresh veggies straight out of the garden.
Another local church – the Pacific Community Church located on 180 St., south of 55 Ave. – has offered to host the soup kitchen starting in the fall on a temporary basis. This will allow Kim’s organization to have a home base away from the square and a place indoors during the rainy winter.
“They were quite gracious that they offered us the place,” Kim says.
The next step will see the Korean Presbyterian Church searching for a small facility to rent out that can house the soup kitchen. When that happens, the church will be able to expand the program to more days each week.
Looking farther ahead, Kim would also like to see the church mount a comprehensive initiative to combat homelessness in the area, which would include substance abuse programs and job training as well as financial and family issues and 24/7 emergency support. The ultimate goal would be to transition the Friends Outside into independent citizens working to support society.
“In the meantime, we will start with what we have,” Kim says.
– By Colin Oswin, Black Press