It started with a dream to bring the community together to share a meal.
Now, members of Ladysmith’s St. John’s Anglican Church are coming together to make that vision a reality for food bank recipients and families down on their luck. They held their first Open Table dinner inside the church hall on Fri., Sept. 28.
“In this environment right now where people don’t have jobs and things are rough, it’s just something little we can reach out and try and help people,” said Kathie Golletz, Rector’s warden. “We’re not expecting anything from these people except to come have some food and go home happy.”
Funds for the community dinners, which will be held once a month during the winter months, are being raised by church members themselves to make it free for the community.
“We’re very fortunate to have a chef and a pastry chef within our congregation, so we’ve been holding bakery sales in order to raise funds for this Open Table,” said Elizabeth Murphy, outreach chair.
Each dinner will have a special theme, and there will be colouring books and toys provided for any children in attendance. Door prizes are also donated by local businesses to give it a more festive feel.
The idea is to create an anonymous, safe, friendly environment full of laughter and friendship.
“The agendas can stay at the door,” said Rector Daniel Fournier. “Often, the need in these situations is more than food, it’s fellowship.”
Fournier added that with food bank demand slowly on the rise, the timing felt right to introduce the concept to the community.
“As I walk downtown or drive, I see the need continually,” he said.
The idea of an Open Table came from a church member who had once been down on their luck. Cue in the helpful hands and minds of fellow parishioners, and two years later, the idea was set into action.
“One of the great gifts we have here is the level of volunteerism,” Fournier said. “I think it’s something we do very well here.”
Organizers are hoping to see the success grow with time, as word gets out.
“We’d like to see people lining up to come in the door,” Murphy said.
The next Open Table will be held Fri., Oct. 26. Tickets to attend are free and are available through the Ladysmith Food Bank.
To find out more about the Open Table or to offer assistance, contact the church at 250-245-5512 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.