Mr. Robson several years ago wrote an article about the number of homeless people who were living in Maple Ridge at the time, and my response began with the words, “Mr. Robson you are sadly misinformed.”
Here we are years later, and I find myself saying the very same words in response to this latest article [Outreach must create synergy, Feb. 26 Just Saying, TIMES]: “Mr. Robson you are sadly misinformed.”
He should not claim to know what it is we do each week, what our motives are, or what it is we are dealing with, when he has never talked to anyone who is involved with the Community Suppers.
That he thinks it’s okay to write whatever he wants, regardless of the consequences to the people he is writing about is appalling and unacceptable.
I would like to clarify a few things for the record.
The District did not shut down an illegal soup kitchen. We are fully licensed through Fraser Health, and are inspected annually to ensure we are complying with the Food Safe guidelines and regulations.
This ministry was started eight years ago by my late husband, The Reverend Robert Mitchell, who saw a need in the community and set out to fill that need.
From the beginning, our mandate has been to get to know the people we serve, to treat them with dignity and respect, and whenever the opportunity presents itself, one of our volunteers who is a certified addictions counsellor will make some calls on their behalf to get them a bed in a treatment facility, recovery house, or detox centre.
We constantly refer people to The Caring Place, Alouette Addictions, and/or suggest they attend one of the many 12-step programs offered in our community.
We are registered with the group CN Community Network and PWH (People Without Homes), so we are working with other social agencies and have always done so.
Each week at the Community Supper we serve an average of 70 to 090 people. We have had as many as 150.
These people are from all walks of life, not just drug addicts, alcoholics, or people with mental disorders. We serve families, elderly people looking for companionship, people on low incomes, and people who are going through hard times.
We provide hot meals, sandwiches, salads, fruit, desserts, and coffee. We also provide warm clothing, shoes, blankets and toiletries.
We have purchased work boots and tools and helped people find work. We give them each a Christmas present every year.
We are able to provide all these things because of the generosity of many, many people in this community. We do this 52 weeks a year, regardless of the weather, and we do it to show them they matter to us and that we care.
Our volunteers are not just from St. George’s Church. Many volunteers attend different churches, and others do not attend any church. There are several local businesses that support this ministry, because they believe that getting involved can only serve to make our community a better place for everyone.
We are not misguided. We know without a doubt that what we do makes a positive difference, and we will continue our work in spite of the likes of Mr. Robson.
Teri Mitchell, Maple Ridge