Reported by Mary Beach
The last Thursday dinner hosted by Marpole Place Neighbourhood House at a church in south Vancouver was interrupted by an announcement – the popular dinners will go on.
A few weeks earlier the Marpole Oakridge Area Council Society who hosts the Thursday night dinners through Marpole Place Neighbourhood House as well as neighbourhood activities like knitting, games and exercise programs, voted to cease operations, said treasurer Jillian Kratzer. Various revenue streams had dwindled over the years and the board was covering expenses from a savings account that had been set up by the society founders. “Over 30 years that savings account had run dry,” said Kratzer.
“People most affected are vulnerable populations – isolated seniors is one of the biggest,” said Kratzer. She said that a number of other organizations are going to be meeting in the next while, to see how they can fill the gaps.
Good news – the dinners continue
Nov. 13 was to be the farewell dinner. When Jessica Fiddler, program director, stepped up to welcome diners, she fought back tears.
“You are the best people I know,” said Fiddler.
At that moment, Reverend Andrew Halladay, priest-in-charge of St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, where the dinners are held, announced that the dinners will go on, despite the official closing of the Marpole Place Neighbourhood House. Although Halladay didn’t elaborate on where the funding for these dinners will come from, an enthusiastic response from the crowd was immediate.
“I’m just so glad the meals are going to continue. That will be huge. Just huge,” said diner Doris Ruther. “If this place closes, everything will just become very lonely.”
“These Thursday night dinners are quite wonderful,” said board member Patsi Longmire, who also said she hopes to help fill the void left by Marpole Place’s closing. “Seniors are just old teenagers. We need somewhere to hang out. And monkey business to get up to.”
“We might be old on the outside but there’s still stuff happening inside us,” said Longmire.
“The people, their passion, enthusiasm, their stories, how well they care for each other in good days and bad days. It’s like a big family,” Fiddler said.
One person shares something personal
As long-time Thursday night diner Josef Ringer waited for volunteers to bring his plate, he shared a poem he had written, entitled My Friend.
Here’s an excerpt from the poem and an audio version:
“God bless my friend and keep him safe, and open up this trend and let me share his burden of care for this man is a very good friend.”
The Thursday dinners and the neighbourhood activities were moved to the church after the nearby neighbourhood house was flooded last December.