Soup kitchen move full of Grace

The London Free Press - - REGION - LAURA BROADLEY

ST. THOMAS — Peo­ple in need are served meals at the Grace Café, but it’s not just about the food and fill­ing the empty stom­achs of about 90 peo­ple each day.

“We’re all in it to­gether,” said founder Ginny Trepanier.

The soup kitchen moved to a new build­ing at 323 Tal­bot St., a lo­ca­tion that’s big­ger than the last.

“It’s not so crowded that you can’t move an el­bow,” Trepanier said. “There’s a lot more free­dom to wan­der around.”

For about the last seven months Trepanier had been look­ing for an­other lo­ca­tion for the soup kitchen.

“All of the sud­den this place (323 Tal­bot St.) came to mind,” Trepanier said. “I just thought it was small and dark.”

The new lo­ca­tion is far from small and dark — its vast din­ing space gives guests more room and vol­un­teers more space to pre­pare the meals.

“I didn’t re­al­ize it’s re­ally per­fect for us,” Trepanier said.

A lot of work had to be done to make it per­fect, though; floors were ripped up and wash­rooms were in­stalled on the main floor.

The build­ing’s lo­ca­tion is also per­fect in an­other way.

“It’s close to our peo­ple,” Trepanier said. “They come here just to chill out, just to hang out, just to snooze, just to eat. I mean, it’s a com­mu­nity thing and mov­ing away to the other side of the city couldn’t hap­pen.”

Ev­ery­thing in the Grace Café, from food to cloth­ing, is free — you can’t pay, Trepanier said.

Trepanier opened the doors of the Grace Café four years ago af­ter get­ting a call from God, she says.

The Grace Café does not re­ceive any gov­ern­ment fund­ing and is run com­pletely by vol­un­teers. Trepanier also does not get paid for the work she does.

“We care. We’re very in­ter­ested in their lives,” she said. “We are happy to help in any way we pos­si­bly can.”

Long­time vol­un­teer Phillip Marsh said he comes to the Grace Café to help out be­cause he loves what he does. He said the move was hec­tic at times, but it’s a good thing in the end.

“It’s very re­ward­ing,” he said. Karen Groe­neweg, an­other long­time vol­un­teer, said the move is ben­e­fi­cial to guests and vol­un­teers.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Groe­neweg said. “We’ve seen a lot of new faces.”

LAURA BROADLEY/POST­MEDIA NEWS

Ginny Trepanier, founder of the Grace Café in St. Thomas, said the soup kitchen’s move to 323 Tal­bot St. was done be­cause of per­pet­ual flood­ing in its other lo­ca­tion. It had out­grown the fa­cil­ity as well. The Grace Café is the go-to place for the city’s hun­gry peo­ple in need.

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