Kitchener Church Serves Up Hope Through Community Meals
By: Jane Vander Velden, Former Deacon at Community CRC & Diaconal Coach for Diaconal Ministries
Ray of Hope Community Centre, located in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, aims to “demonstrate the love of Christ by Investing in People, Inspiring Hope and Transforming Life”. With the help of dedicated staff, volunteers, donors, and approximately 90 community partners, Ray of Hope works to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of vulnerable people in the Waterloo Region. One way they do this is by community dinners. The Centre has a fully licenced kitchen and offers 3 nutritious meals a day all throughout the year. Most hear about these meals through word of mouth and it has become an essential service to many community members.
Community CRC in Kitchener has had the pleasure of being involved with serving meals at the Centre. It started with a specific request made from the pulpit asking for volunteers to make and serve one of the dinners. Many volunteers signed up and I, along with another church member, took the lead and bought all of the food. Volunteers came in to help prep the food and then another group came in to serve and clean up. Because of the ongoing pandemic, that night we provided takeout meals for 60 people who did not want to come into the Centre as well as served another 60 people inside! A hearty meal of chili, rolls, veggies and cookies was appreciated by all.
Volunteers were able to sit and visit with those who came into the Centre. Unfortunately, many ate their food quickly and left quickly. The sad reality is that they were headed for the shelters where beds are available on a first come, first served basis.
The volunteers that helped with this meal were able to pay for all the food as part of their service to the Centre. In the future, our church hopes to do this on a monthly basis and the deacons recently approved a budget for this ministry! I, along with Anita Hoekstra, are the lead organizers and we are delighted by the amount of willing volunteers who have signed up! The volunteers are all excited to help out. We even have a few young people helping out and we hope to invite the youth group to take a turn. We recently served a meal to another 120 people!
We look forward to being a beacon in our community with our cooking and serving skills as well as being a friend to those who need one. We pray God will bless our church’s endeavours so that He may be glorified and more may know of His great love.
Is Your Church Longing to Engage with its Community?