The Equality Project marked its second anniversary on October 22, with a celebration that brought together many of the project’s board members, volunteers, clients, and members of the public.
“The impetus for starting it was when we saw the abundance of food in the community,” says executive administrator Shelley Magwood. “Neighbours were giving zucchinis to each other, and so much food was going to waste. But there were people living on non-perishable food items from the food bank.
“Food wasn’t getting where it needed to be, and we felt there had to be a way to put the two things together.”
A group of volunteers began collecting surplus food, and worked together in someone’s kitchen to prepare nutritious, ready-to-heat meals that could be individually frozen and then given to those who needed them. They also provided a once-a-week soup lunch, and tried to help people out by distributing other necessities.
In their first year the project distributed 300 soup lunches, 600 meals, and 400 personal hygiene items. However, those running it knew they had to find a permanent base out of which to operate; a place where volunteers and clients could come together, work, and socialize.
Earlier this year the opportunity arose to take over the former Jehovah’s Witness hall on Stage Road in Cache Creek, and the Equality Project moved in there in May. They put out a wish list of items for the building—including kitchen appliances, clothing racks, furniture, and much more—and began providing lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays each week.
Meal preparation also goes on each week, with the volunteers using whatever items have been donated to turn out meals such as lasagna, shepherd’s pie, chili, pork or beef roasts, and chicken with potatoes and vegetables. Board member Joan Henderson estimates that since the project found its home in May, they are distributing 400 meals a month.
While most of the people who receive the meals go to the project’s site—which is what the organizers prefer—a few deliveries are made to people in Cache Creek and Ashcroft who are unable to attend. Magwood says that the social aspect of the project is a big part of what they do, and Henderson agrees.
“You can see people here socializing a lot more now,” she notes. “Many of them used to just come, eat, and leave.”
A large downstairs room at the building that was almost empty when The Journal visited in May is now full of clothing and shoes for men, women, and children, as well as personal hygiene items, household goods, books, games, and more. The items are available at no charge to those who need them.
Henderson says that another service they would like to provide is a craft room, where men and women can come and do woodworking, carving, whittling, sewing, and other projects. In the immediate future, they hope to do a Christmas dinner this year for their clients.
The services of the Equality Project are available to anyone in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area who needs them. A membership fee is $5 per month, and members of the community are able to sponsor memberships for the same fee.
“We’re open to anyone who has no family and has need,” says Henderson. “And we are always looking for volunteers; all willing hearts are welcome.”
To volunteer, make a donation of food, money, or goods, or purchase a membership, call (250) 457-6485, or e-mail email@example.com.