A dedicated group of volunteers have been cooking up nourishing meals and providing sit-down service to families in need and Victoria’s street community in the CDI College gymnasium for the past year.
Community roots run deep through the room, which began life as part of Blanshard elementary school at 950 Kings Rd. Thousands of family members from Quadra-Hillside area used the space in decades past, and a different mix of students attended University Canada West during its relatively short stint here.
Members of a group called The Living Edge, a non-profit project of the Anglican Network in Canada, have added the latest new dimension to the facility. The volunteers, mostly parishioners from Victoria’s Church of Our Lord, provide folks in need with Sunday dinner stability in a non-judgmental environment.
“There’s a lot of good will that transcends between the people that are serving and the people that are receiving,” said church member and regular Living Edge volunteer Patrick Skillings.
“There is a genuine warmth that I feel personally from many of the people who are partaking of this meal.”
The Sunday meal was instituted in part due to the absence of other charitable meal services in the city in the same time slot. As such, the gym is usually packed between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Preceding the weekly dinner, Living Edge volunteers facilitate a discussion group at 3:30 p.m., focusing on life issues from a Christian perspective. Church members also provide support to families in crisis and referrals to counsellors.
The meals begin with supportive, inter-denominational prayers for those in the room. While some attendees felt a bit uncomfortable at first with the Christian approach, Skillings says, in general people seem to appreciate the experience. Some diners have even begun staying afterward to help clean up or to simply chat.
While most of the food is donated, Living Edge does have expenses. To help defray costs, a $50-a-plate fundraiser dinner is scheduled for Oct. 17 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the same site. It includes a full meal, live entertainment and door prize giveaways.
The goal, Skillings says, is to raise about $10,000.
To purchase tickets to the fundraiser, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the program, visit livingedgecommunity.com or call 250-383-8915.