A new building constructed as part of Siloam Mission's expanding campus will mean clients will no longer have to stand outside waiting for their meals.
The mission, which provides meals and shelter to homeless Winnipeggers, unveiled its new dining hall Friday. The new Morberg Raven's Nest Dining Room is wheelchair accessible and includes a new stainless-steel kitchen, a drop-in centre and space to seat 400 diners — more than twice as many as the old hall.
Plus, there is added space for about 100 people to line up inside if tables are full.
"I'm glad to see that they've got a new place," said Lucy Kesick, a former resident at Siloam.
"You know, when you're having a bad day it doesn't help being stuck out in line."
Even on bitterly cold winter days and under the blazing hot summer sun, vulnerable people would regularly line up outside for home-cooked food, three times a day, said Jim Bell, Siloam Mission's chief executive officer.
"It's exciting for all of us here at Siloam. No question," said Bell.
This is the first stage of a $17-million dollar project that will eventually see the construction of a third building that will connect the dining hall at 303 Stanley St. to Siloam's older location on Princess Street and Henry Avenue.
Building community by breaking bread
To christen the new dining building, Siloam held its annual Thanksgiving feast Friday afternoon — a turkey dinner with all the fixings and pumpkin pie for dessert.
Circular tables decorated with autumn reds, yellows and browns quickly filled up with hungry patrons.
Several dignitaries joined in Friday to serve dinners to clients, including Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon; her husband and former premier, Gary Filmon; Esther Pallister, wife of current premier Brian Pallister; and provincial Minister of Families Scott Fielding.
Janice Filmon praised the work of Siloam Mission, saying nothing brings a community together like breaking bread.
"It's a pure pleasure to join you today in this grand opening — that's what it is, for this new place of welcome and friendship and caring," she said.
Along with the officials at Friday's opening, Siloam also welcomed one of its clients who benefited personally from the services of Siloam in the past.
Now a volunteer with the mission, Will Gault told reporters he turned to the charity in 2011 when alcoholism led him to lose his job as a province of Manitoba peace officer.
Homeless and struggling to manage his addiction, Gault said the support he received from Siloam helped him put his life back together.
Now he is two years sober and a new dad.
"I'm super grateful to be back here in a different aspect," Gault said, waiting his turn to pick up plates of turkey to deliver to current Siloam clients.
"It's awesome to give back and I'm super humbled to be part of this experience."
Siloam Mission said it has raised $13.3 million toward its goal of raising $17 million for the two-phase expansion.
The planned building that will connect the new dining hall on Stanley Street with Siloam's older location is set to have more than 50 new emergency beds, a larger health centre and more transitional services to help people find housing.
The charity plans to go ahead with construction before the winter snowfall.
This story originally identified Will Gault as a former police officer. It should have read "former peace officer."Oct 08, 2017 9:28 AM CT