Police officers, community officials and over 200 volunteers helped serve 1,000 plates of turkey and stuffing at the annual Our Place Society Thanksgiving lunch on Wednesday.
“The need is great, and we try to meet that need,” said Le-Ann Dolan, director of operations at the downtown community centre serving the city’s most vulnerable.
“One of the biggest pieces we do around here is belonging, and serving a meal like this today not only fills peoples’ bellies, but provides the opportunity for people to have a piece of belonging, love and care,” Dolan said.
For Roberta Touchie, the meal came as a surprise.
“I usually come here and just sit and do my beading downstairs so it’s nice to come up and have a good meal,” Touchie said, adding it was great to see so many volunteers.
“It shows that you guys care and that we’re not just nobodies, we’re somebodies,” she said. “It makes us feel good, especially when you see an officer serving at the window, you never see that.”
For John Daescu, originally from Romania, the service at Our Place is about more than just a meal.
“I come here every day to eat, not because I have nothing to eat but because the community here is [made of] very good people,” he said.
“They are very helpful and I want to come here until the last day I’m going back to my country,” he added. “The food is very good, and I appreciate the chef in the kitchen, who is cooking very good.”
Having spent many years homeless, Terry Colbern said while the food was great, the most important thing was to be thankful.
“This is my homeless family,” he said. “We’re here being thankful for what we have, that’s the most important thing. I got my life back… and now I have the ability to be with my family.”
Community leaders from across the region were just some of the helping hands involved in dishing out the turkey, mashed potatoes and fixings, including Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“Our job as elected officials is to serve everyone in our community,” Helps said, “and that includes the fine folks that are eating here at Our Place, where we’re literally serving in this case.”
Helps pointed out it was a busy event, given that the weather is getting colder. “There’s a warm lunch inside so a lot of people are coming in for lunch, it’s a real pleasure to have a conversation with them.”
The meal was made possible by donations, both of food and funding. To donate at any time you can head to ourplacesociety.com/donate