A Richmond non-profit organization celebrated one year of staying connected and serving its clients lunch at the park since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The Turning Point Outreach and Resource Support (OARS) program -- managed by the Turning Point Recovery Society -- hosted its 200th lunch which included hot chocolate, sandwiches and cupcakes for the program's clients at a Richmond park on Tuesday.
Morgan Meloche, program coordinator for OARS program, said it’s a celebration and recognition that they’ve been staying connected with their clients despite the pandemic having shut down their drop-in resource centre.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve had to close the (drop-in centre) for a year already, but we had an amazing transition from that space to being in the park,” said Meloche.
“I think that what we’ve been able to do showed the resiliency that our clients and staff have. For them to just go with the flow and still being able to connect even on rainy days is what really puts meaning to this program.”
During the celebratory lunch, clients lined up for their free meal which included a "joke of the day" and were also asked to write about something that helped them get through the past year on a poster board prepared by the staff.
Meloche recalled several times when clients “demanded for their jokes” instead of their lunches when they approached staff at the park.
“Some people looked forward to the jokes more than their sandwiches and this just speaks how important our work is,” she said.
Meloche told the Richmond News the lunches have been provided by The Storey’s Café since they started hosting the lunches at the part.
As a way to thank the cafe's staff, a poster board was set up for people to write thank you notes for them as well.
“The main thing for the program is to support and find ways to still connect with people, and as things close down, there are still ways we are trying to keep that connection going,” said Meloche, adding that a support system is what “keeps people going” during tough times.
“I feel incredibly grateful that our clients are adapting with us despite the changes and it’s great to know we can still be here for (our clients) and they are there for each other.”