Serving hope at Le Café

by Allan Chandler

My friend and I decided we wanted to do something in the community, not necessarily fundraising and not being a Treasurer – I’m a charted accountant by profession. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to do something that was to help people in need and to help serve meals at Le Café to people who either couldn’t afford it or who came here for social reasons. We applied and got interviewed through the Cummings Centre and here we are. We’re here regularly, every Tuesday night. We’ve been doing this for a few months, I guess.

I love kids and I’ve seen a lot of kids come in here, unfortunately. But they’re nice kids and you kibbitz around with them. And there are other people who come in regularly so you get to know them. You get to greet them and help them and most of them are well taken care of. You get to know people and you make friends with the volunteers. It’s been very worthwhile.

I knew what to expect. I knew that we were serving meals to people who basically couldn’t afford it or who were coming here because of social loneliness because they were coming to meet their friends. So there’s a mix of people. When you come to volunteer here, you accept people as they are. You don’t come in and make judgments. You’re here to help these people, period. You’re not here to change policies or change the world; you’re just here to serve a meal, to serve soup or whatever they ask you to do. That’s what you’re here for. It’s an hour and a half of steady work and you concentrate on what you’re doing and you give something back.

by Ema

I heard about Le Café from Ometz. First of all, when you first come in, you don’t feel comfortable. You see a lot of strange people you don’t know. It took me a while to get used to it. Then I saw a lot of people from my son’s school and he saw people he knew. So I felt better coming here.

I like the food they serve. It’s healthy and it’s not junk food, like going for pizza. Instead of going and spending money on pizza and fries, you can come here and eat well. This is stable and healthy. You teach the kids to eat well.

We get to know the staff. We meet interesting people and the volunteers. I think it’s a very big job to volunteer and to commit to do it regularly. People really want to help. I see that. Now I do feel comfortable. I think my kids really like it. They see a lot of staff they know, they see the same people so they feel more welcome.

It’s really important to have a service like that. It helps people who need it and it helps keep the community together. You learn that everybody wants to help each other. You can see people making friends. People are happy. People don’t feel lonely. I think the community is wonderful to help. I hope we continue to do things like this. It’s a wonderful thing for the children, for adults, for older people and people who come from other places. It makes them feel like we have something that other communities don’t have. This is the only place that has all this, every week, and it doesn’t cost anything. I appreciate it. We are very lucky.

Over 32,780 free hot kosher meals were served at Le Café last year to community members in need. The demand for these services requires an ongoing commitment.  
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