Soup kitchen move full of Grace
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.”
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.