Six women hoping to break into the trades began tearing apart the kitchen of a Halifax food bank on Tuesday as the shelter eyes expansion.
"It feels awesome," said Heather Romkey, taking a break from smashing a countertop with a sledgehammer.
"I am getting rid of a lot of my pent-up stress."
The Souls Harbour Rescue Mission won $100,000 to renovate its kitchen from the Aviva Community Fund in January.
"We're a very small charity so this impacts us in a big way," said executive director Michelle Porter.
The rescue mission provides simple soup and sandwiches to up to 120 people six days a week. The renovation will convert the space into a commercial kitchen with three sinks, a walk-in freezer and a dishwasher.
Porter expects construction will last about two months. She says the mission will then be able to increase the amount of food it makes and prepare more elaborate dishes, such as roast beef and potatoes.
"It's a good way to give back to the community," said Latesha Auger, with Women Unlimited. The NSCC program provides training and mentorship to women considering entering the trades.
The kitchen is doubling in size as part of the renovations.
Auger says her favourite task is tearing down walls. The crew is lifting carpet in a nearby office and destroying the wall separating it from the kitchen to create more space.
Chef Les Porter said he's most looking forward to special occasions, such as Easter and Thanksgiving.
Those meals can include anywhere from 300 to 400 people, and most of the food has to be prepared off-site.
He said the walk-in freezer will allow the charity to better organization donations, especially at Christmas time.
"Everything was packed," he said, remembering years when things were nearly falling out of the fridges and freezers.
Les Porter says guests at the centre have been asking about the renovations since January, and the demolition shows the new kitchen will be here soon.
More fundraising needed
He is continuing to prepare meals during the summer months, using a small kitchen upstairs.
Porter says he'll be relying heavily an outdoor barbeques for the next few weeks.
Souls Harbour is not done fundraising yet.
Michelle Porter says the new six-burner stove and appliances require natural gas.
They're hoping to raise $20,000 this summer to buy a new furnace and convert to natural gas.
The campaign is called "Warm Up for Winter."
Porter says donations are lagging at $2,650. She believes it's because people are enjoying the summer heat.