Seven days a week, 365 days a year the Soupateria on Orchard Avenue, and it’s many volunteers, feed the hungry.
To celebrate its 34th anniversary on Wednesday, organizers held a special appreciation luncheon in the dining room for those people, past and present, who had donated their time to help others.
The lunch was actually the idea of a two current volunteers, Wendy Tarasoff and Sheryl Ann Wilson, who were both at one time clients at the Soupateria.
“I’ve eaten here for six years and I’ve been volunteering here to give back for three years because I’m so grateful for this service,” said Wilson, who is a writer, along with Tarasoff, and the pair recently produced a book on grammar. “At that time it (being able to eat at the Soupateria) was extremely important. The details are too much to get into, but I literally had no money at all. This was a very, very important service for me. It literally saved my life.
“It means a lot to me to be able to give back. It’s the kind of person I am, so I wanted to come here and give back very much.”
Lauraine Bailie is a director on the board of the Penticton Community Soupateria Outreach and was welcoming guests at the door Wednesday.
“If we didn’t have the volunteers we wouldn’t have a soupateria, plain as that,” said Bailie, who is also a past president. “I have on my roster between 100 and 125 volunteers from churches and the community. We have dishwashers, prep people, servers, people who do pickups.”
A charitable organization, the Soupateria depends on donations from churches, businesses, social clubs and individuals as well as fundraising events to exist. As well as the lunches offered from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. everyday, there are hot, sit-down dinners on holidays like Christmas and Easter that are served, and shelves containing bread, rolls, buns and sometimes canned goods for people to take with them.
Those requiring access to health care can also find assistance through the facility.
Anyone wishing to become a volunteer with the Soupateria can do so online: http://soupateria.com/volunteering/ .