Fort St. James — The outreach services behind St. Patricks church is hoping to reach independent status and soon become the Stuart Lake Outreach Program.
Right now the funds for the food bank flow through the church but, by becoming a registered charity, the funds would become separate, said Rev. Gwen Andrews, who along with her husband Rev. Roy Andrews have been the Anglican ministers at St. Patricks since 2007 and began the lunch program and food bank in 2010.
“When we came to Fort St. James we saw a need and began investigating ways to offer these services.” said Rev. Gwen.
Since September of last year the food bank services has become well established and has run on a regular schedule. Every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. participants are welcomed to a free lunch and the food bank is open on the middle Wednesday of each month from 10:00 a.m to noon. A Thursday morning breakfast program from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m has also been adopted by the space through the courtesy of Fire Weed, Northern Health, Nak’azdli Health and Nezul Be Hunuyeh.
The outreach program is located in the space behind the church and over the past year has served over 170 individuals and families. When the space first opened up the kitchen was the size of a bathroom with two electric plugs and no stove. With the help of initial contacts such as Sylvia Isaac, the lunch program started to become known in town and then throughout the religious community. Donations of Clothing and food from neighbouring businesses and community groups started pouring in.
“The churches started coming together to see our vision. We even got anonymous donations for hundreds of dollars from across the country,” said Rev. Gwen.
Over $55,000 has been raised in support of a new kitchen and continued services for the outreach. Now, a much larger space has been opened up creating more room for storage and cooking. Appliances have also been donated to help complete the kitchen including a stove, fridge, large freezer, dishwasher and stove.
“I would like to acknowledge all of those who have and continue to support this outreach ministry and to thank each and every one whose seen this need and contributed either through time, talent or treasure to make it possible,” said Rev. Gwen.
Although the kitchen funds ran out just before completing cupboard doors, the outreach is planning a yard sale and spaghetti dinner in September. Anyone with things to donate can bring them by St. Patricks church any Tuesday morning between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Since the program is continually expanding, anyone interested in volunteering can contact Gwen Andrews at 250-570-9225.