On Tuesdays, the soup kitchen in Kentville operates out of the town’s recreation centre. Serving up meat loaf and beans recently were, from left, Lisa Andrew, Wanda Pike, Betty Corkum, John Andrew and Reg Outhouse. - Wendy Elliott, Kingscountynews.ca
By Wendy Elliott
Open Arms in Kentville has taken on another program. The group is now running the Treasure House Soup Kitchen twice a week.
John and Eve Steenbeck, who operated the soup kitchen for about 30 years, retired in June.
Street pastor and director John Andrew calls their service to the community “remarkable.”
Volunteers are always welcome in the kitchen, he says. Local farms are being solicited for produce contributions.
“I’m not afraid to ask,” Andrew chuckles.
The soup kitchen averages between 50 and 70 hungry individuals.
Recently, two newly-retired people volunteered to help and Andrew said a busy medical intern in Kentville volunteers for two hours a week.
The soup kitchen is open two days a week, beginning at 11:30 a.m. On Tuesdays, it is located at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 43 Belcher Street, and on Thursdays, it takes place at the Kentville Recreation Centre, 354 Main Street.
The Open Arms drop-in centre runs out of the rear of the Cornwallis Inn in downtown Kentville. Andrew says they would like to serve the homeless and those in crisis from a permanent facility.
Generally, he said, they have several hundred visitors a month. Some are transient, while others suffer from addictions or mental illness.
“There is lots of poverty and need,” he says. “For every person in crisis, there’s 40 others who need a friend and a cup of coffee. There’s no way to quantify it.”
Andrew notes that his aim is to help individuals feel better about themselves.
“When they start to feel good enough, they are ready to get a job,” he said.
Recently, he said, a homeless man living in the woods simply required shaving cream and a razor to begin feeling normal.
Open Arms is open six mornings each week when food is available and on three evenings. Volunteers at the centre, which number close to 200, stay current on what affordable housing is available. They also run a weekly a drop-in program in Berwick and a transition house in Kentville. Open Arms also operates a furniture bank.
A number of local churches contribute weekly volunteer teams. Four or five contribute Saturday suppers for about 30 people on a monthly basis.
A fundraising golf tournament for Open Arms is planned for Oct. 12 at the Island Green Golf Club near Kentville. Andrew is also organizing another Coldest Night of the Year Walk in 2014.
Inn From the Cold
Open Arms will co-ordinate an emergency shelter between Windsor and Middleton during the colder months.
Six churches in Central Kings County support Inn from the Cold on a rotating basis. Each church covers one night per week providing overnight shelter and breakfast for their guests. Guests are brought to the church offering shelter that night by a police escort, after each individual has been screened. Over 80 per cent of them are male.
Open Arms began offering street chaplaincy and emergency housing in 2004. Inn From the Cold and the drop-in centre began operating about eight years ago.