When Deborah Hunt found out the Rainbow Kitchen in Esquimalt will be receiving a massive facelift by a local charity, she started to cry.
Hunt, the treasurer with the kitchen’s board of directors, first applied to HeroWork, a society that completes radical renovations for other charitable organizations, last year.
Originally, Hunt wanted a simple renovation of the kitchen’s bathroom, that serves roughly 140 people a day. However, Paul Latour, executive director of HeroWork, had a bigger vision for the 51-year-old building.
“They serve 36,000 meals a year, so Rainbow Kitchen makes a huge difference here in Esquimalt,” said Latour, adding the 4,500-square-foot space, which is a part of the Esquimalt United Church, also serves various community groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, a paddle group, garden club and hosts weekend community dances.
“Even though Rainbow Kitchen is the main stakeholder, the building is a hub of community groups and we like the idea of lifting up a hub, because that lifts up the whole community.”
Instead of renovating just the bathroom, HeroWork will complete a $500,000 renovation of the space.
“I started to cry (when I found out). I was overwhelmed by the amazing generosity of people like Paul, that they would take this on and that they felt confident about mobilizing the resources needed,” said Hunt, who has been a volunteer with the society since 2012.
Over the course of three weekends beginning this week, roughly 70 volunteers will come together for the renovation, which includes the creation of a new food production area, the installation of a Japanese garden and a new bathroom, and the repainting of the exterior and interior of the building.
In addition, all the flooring and windows will be replaced and new appliances will also be put in, along with a walk-in freezer, among other things.
Hunt said the renovation will allow the kitchen’s 200 volunteers to work more effectively and efficiently, and renews a sense of community.
“What it means to the volunteers and to the guests especially is that the community cares about them. That they have value, that they’re members of the community, that they have dignity and respect,” said Hunt. “Although they need to come and have a meal with us, they’re still valued people. We are their food security.”
The renovations will be unveiled on Sunday, Oct. 2.
Rainbow Kitchen serves 36,000 meals a year from street youth to single parents, and those unemployed to seniors on low income.