St. Vincent's needs a helping hand

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Story and image by Bobby Perritt-Moungaloa
To continue serving roughly 50,000 meals a year, St. Vincent’s soup kitchen, in downtown Oshawa, is looking to the community to help with the last fraction of money needed for a new stove.
The Canadian Auto Workers Union and individual donors have contributed $11,000 but St. Vincent’s is still $2,000 short from buying a new stove, which they hope will last for 15 to 20 years.  The oven they use now took a bad turn in mid-January. It loses its flame every two to 20 minutes, according to real estate agent Sandy Brittain, who is also in charge of media relations and fundraising at St. Vincent’s.

A volunteer working in St. Vincent’s kitchen stops to re-light the stove.

“It’s a hassle, it’s not the best use of volunteers’ volunteer time to keep lighting the oven and lighting the oven,” said Brittain, describing how all the food frequently has to be removed from the oven in the middle of cooking, and disassembled to be re-lit with a barbecue lighter.
“Especially (at the) end of the month there will be more people who come because they haven’t got their cheques and so…they run out of money for food so the demand on the stove becomes greater and greater as we get to then end of the month.”
St. Vincent’s, located in a large basement opposite of the Regent Theatre on King Street, is the largest soup kitchen in Durham Region and has been helping ease community hunger for two decades. The two hundred or more meals they serve a day is made possible through community donations and St. Vincent Pallotti’s shop (operating above the soup kitchen), with any outside assistance from the government or organizations such as the United Way.
“In all the years that we’ve been operating, we have been able to raise the funds that we need to operate St. Vincent’s kitchen and replace the equipment, solely with the community,” Brittain said. “It’s all community support that keeps us going and without it we wouldn’t be here for the people that need it.”
Volunteers from organizations around the community come together to ensure they are there 365 days a year to open the kitchen’s doors.   Brittain described how both volunteers and patrons of the kitchen have come together to help people with mobility issues, sometimes in wheelchairs, make their way down the narrow staircase into the dining hall.
“One of the things that is so important, is to be able to come into a warm space, have a hot meal, and feeling like you were loved and you were cared for. And the stove is a big part of that whole picture for our patrons.”
To help in this effort contact Vallerie Moreton, Manager of Operations at the St. Vincent’s Pallotti Shop  (905) 434-7543 or email her at

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