The Kitchen Ladies

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It’s a funny kind of volunteer job, I think.  But then, I’m not much of a cook.

Prepping lunch for 200 people isn’t easy, but for Dawn, Cathy, Susan, Penny, Astrid and Rosemary, it offers rewards.  They told me all about it over coffee and fresh-baked banana bread during their morning break.

Dawn started volunteering in the kitchen earlier this year.  She first came to the Rainbow Kitchen as a client earlier in the spring, having heard about the delicious meals and looking for a way to stretch her small monthly budget.  “It was the day after a regular had passed away, and the mood was so sombre.  Everyone was feeling it.”

DSCN0151I thought this meant her first experience hadn’t been all that positive.  “But you came back anyway?” I asked.

In fact, she tells me, that was why she came back.  It was such a strong sense of community. Everyone missed this fellow – Lawrence – so much.  Dawn wanted to be a part of a strong community like that. And now she is.

“I work almost every day,” she tells me.  “I earn the food that I eat here. It feels good.”

Cathy’s a new volunteer too. She’s recently moved to Victoria from Alberta and jumped into the Rainbow Kitchen as a way to get to know her new community.  “I’ve always volunteered, but it was always about my kids. Now they don’t need me so I come here. I like to make a difference.” For Cathy, working at the Rainbow Kitchen is also helping her deal with the new reality of navigating the world with hearing loss. “Coming here is helping me regain confidence,” she says.

Susan, a long time Victoria resident who is retired, says the Rainbow Kitchen just kept popping up for her. “It was like some kind of a sign. I’d see brochures and posters, or people would talk about it.”  Now that she’s here, Susan finds the camaraderie – meeting the wide variety of volunteers and clients at the Rainbow Kitchen – is a great way to learn more about the community and stay connected.

Penny, Astrid and Rosemary agree.  All of these ladies come between one and five days a week, starting around 8 a.m. to cut vegetables, prep food, and generally, do whatever the head chef of the day tells them to do.  Once lunch is ready, they’re busy serving it up and cleaning up after lunch is through.IMG_2155

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