Elaine Russell serves plates of food to many a familiar face at the Trinity United Church on a regular basis.
She is the volunteer executive director for The Shepherd’s Lunch Room, which serves a free hot meal for those in need every Monday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the church.
On April 12, they will host their 25th anniversary event with snacks and speeches from Russell and the program’s president, Dave De Blois, she said.
“I can’t say enough good about the volunteers, we have a great team.”
Russell has been a volunteer for nine years and in total there are 80 volunteers and 66 organizations as part of the team, she said.
The organizations supply the meals, which consist of a variety of soup, crackers, meat, vegetables and a dessert, while the volunteers buy the placemats, drinks and condiments. When the program first started it was held at the Salvation Army and four people walked in for a hot meal.
For the past 19 years, they’ve been using Trinity United Church’s kitchen and dining room and last year there were around 10,000 meals served. They seat around 80 people per day and welcome any one who may need a meal or those who don’t want to eat alone, she said.
“There’s no judgment of anyone that comes in.”
While they wait for the food to be ready, there is coffee and tea available and they are seated and served their meal.
“It’s just like the people come in like a restaurant.” They have started to see new faces walk in to the church, but it’s mostly returning clients, she said.
“You get to know them and know how they struggle.”
Volunteering has been a great way to make friends, and the anniversary event will be a get-together among volunteers, she said, adding that it’s a wonderful service they offer and she’s so proud to be involved.
“It’s nice to walk out of there and know you’ve done something good for your community.”