To the editor,
Re: Advocates for now-closed Nanaimo soup kitchen ask for city’s help, July 16.
Nanaimo’s Stone Soup fed 160-plus nightly, 365 days a year non-stop, to low-income and the homeless. No one was turned away. Now tenants Doug and Tanya Hiltz have been evicted. How unfair is that?
This couple set up space to serve hot meals to those in need. People who came could have as many servings as they required. Socializing was encouraged; no drugs, alcohol, or violence was permitted.
An army of dedicated volunteers drawn from all walks of life operated behind the scenes, collecting the food generously donated from some of the major grocery stores here in Nanaimo, gathering twice a week to prepare it, then delivering it. In addition to the ostensible purpose of Stone Soup which is (excuse me – was) to feed the hungry, Doug and Tanya’s efforts offered a precious opportunity for Nanaimo’s citizens and generous sponsors to experience the joy of service to their community. Young and old, high and low alike were enabled to make a meaningful contribution, either as a donor, a grocery picker-upper, a cook, a server or an occasional entertainer.
Other fallout from Stone Soup’s shutdown include deprivation for the children who came to Stone Soup with low-income parents so they could all have a hot meal. Same thing for a group of vets who lived in an inaccessible location and would come down once a month to get their basic needs and patronize Stone Soup for the trek back. So now some 160 humans are without a hot supper. This means that they have to decide how to afford the meal that has been taken from them. Some will find a way, whether they steal, prostitute, panhandle or sell drugs.
Stone Soup was the only place in Nanaimo area that fed anybody a hot meal every night of the year. Now that’s a thing of the past. May God forgive those responsible.
As for those who would criticize Stone Soup’s founders for any reason, all I can say is, who among us has the true grit to do what Doug and Tanya did? They deserve not criticism but praise and support to get Stone Soup back up and running. Efforts in this direction are being made and no doubt they will be successful. When one door closes…
Dan Tkachuk and Lewis Beck, Nanaimo
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