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French to province: Support St. Vincent’s

Oshawa charity looking to relocate

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Durham Outlook for the Needy is now the one in need, and Oshawa MPP Jennifer French is pushing for them to get the help they seek.

French recently wrote a letter to Lisa MacLeod, the province’s minister of Children, Community and Social Services expressing her hope that the province can assist Durham Outlook in the building of the new location for St. Vincent’s Kitchen, as they have hit a financial roadblock.

The Durham Outlook team at St. Vincent’s is Durham’s only 365 day per year soup kitchen. It has been a constant in the Oshawa community for 25 years, and French is hoping to keep it that way.

French told The Oshawa Express that St. Vincent’s Kitchen is a landmark and that it “has a special place in [Oshawa’s] downtown history.”

Currently, St. Vincent’s Kitchen operates at 51 King Street East, but is looking to move to 227 Simcoe Street South.

They are relocating because their current home has accessibility problems, as visitors and volunteers need to descend a steep set of stairs in order to reach the entrance.

“That keeps out our moms with strollers, that keeps out our folks in mobility devices, that keeps out anyone who can’t use the stairs,” French explains. “It doesn’t serve the whole community that it wants to.”

Those who visit St. Vincent’s Kitchen are provided with a hot meal that is nutritious and is given to them by the volunteer staff.

“Some of [the volunteers] have worked there for years,” says French. “It’s a volunteer institution in Oshawa.”

However, they’ve been experiencing financial difficulties as the costs of building their new home have exceeded what was initially expected.

French’s letter indicates that Durham Outlook was faced with unanticipated costs from environmental contamination at the build site, as they previously unearthed a broken oil tank that had contaminated the soil.

The cleaning of the oil contamination resulted in Durham Outlook running out of funds for St. Vincent’s new location, so French has asked that MacLeod and the provincial government step in and provide assistance for the ailing soup kitchen.

French says that she has yet to receive a response from MacLeod, or any of the other ministers that she has approached, in regards to the letter. But she is planning to push forward with the discussion.

“St. Vincent’s Kitchen is a very welcoming gathering space,” says French. “People come in there and they’re treated with dignity.”