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Qualicum Beach council honours community volunteers for going ‘above and beyond’

St. Stephen’s United Church earns accolades for meal program
The Above and Beyond Award was presented to the St. Stephen’s United Church Community Meal Program. Receiving the award were volunteers Gail Berry, Earl Geddes, Pierre Pare and Carol Pare. (Submitted photo)

St. Stephen’s Community Meal Program was honoured at the Town of Qualicum Beach Volunteer Appreciation Reception held at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre on Aug. 25.

The winners were presented with the Above and Beyond Volunteer Award for outstanding dedication to those in need throughout the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

They were chosen by council and staff.

Every week, come rain or shine, those needing a free meal and a kind word find the doors of St. Stephens Church open. The meals are freshly prepared with quality local ingredients that provide not only nutrition but companionship — the program’s motto being, ‘Come for a meal, stay for the friendship.’

The program has been running for more than 15 years, and even through COVID provided a takeaway lunch service. Now back to their normal Thursday lunch program, they serve between 30 and 50 people each week in-person, as well as providing an additional 70 bagged lunches that social workers take to those in isolated rural areas.

READ MORE: SOS volunteers provide invaluable service for Parksville Qualicum Beach area

They are also pleased to be restarting their monthly hot evening meal which, pre-COVID, saw upwards of 200 people attending, many of whom were seniors in need of socialization and simple human contact.

In addition to providing meals, the program offers vital opportunities for social workers to provide in-person services and specialist support that is otherwise hard to organize. The program also supports the KSS school lunch program both financially, and with volunteer services.

Council, on behalf of the Qualicum Beach community, expressed their sincere thank you.

“The Volunteer Appreciation Reception is our opportunity to express our appreciation for the many volunteers who dedicate hours, days, months and even years to bettering the community in Qualicum Beach,” council stated.

Guests were also encouraged in this Year of the Garden to “continue to grow our community together. Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much.”

The volunteer groups and committee members honoured this year are listed on the 2022 Volunteer Appreciation Recipients Award displayed in the town hall foyer, along with the Above and Beyond Volunteer Award plaque.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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