Marie Issac prepares a hearty meal in the kitchen at Gracepoint Church.

A healthy serving of sustenance

A Surrey woman is urging people to look within their own community for opportunities to give back.

A Surrey woman is urging people to look within their own community for opportunities to give back.

Marie Isaac has been volunteering at Gracepoint Church in South Surrey on Sundays for the past six years, providing nourishing meals to those in need, and now she is encouraging people to follow suit.

“It’s a joy. I get great delight out of doing it,” Isaac said in the church’s kitchen, while preparing for another Sunday dinner.

“For me, service is an integral part of life. People who don’t see a need or don’t even understand serving, I think they lose a lot and they don’t even realize what they lost.”

The petite cook, who also has a catering business, says one of the biggest problems with the Sunday meals – provided to diners for no charge – is potential volunteers simply don’t know about it, and end up leaving the community to perform their public service.

“People often run downtown to help out with the Union Gospel Mission or the Salvation Army and those are wonderful agencies, and I support them fully, but why not stay home and help out in your own neighbourhood?” Isaac said.

The dinners, which have been run by the church for more than 15 years, have provided hearty, home-cooked meals, including roast beef, roast pork and chicken cacciatore, to people from all over Metro Vancouver, Isaac said. Since she began volunteering, Isaac has met people who come from as far as North Vancouver and Richmond to fill their bellies.

“When you’re on assistance in B.C., you receive a bus pass, and with no work, people really make this their life,” Isaac said. “They know on Sunday they can come here and get something to eat, and then on Tuesday they go somewhere else.”

Despite having people coming to the King George Boulevard service from all over the region, she said there is a sense of camaraderie when everyone sits down to dig in. According to Isaac, many even have their own “spot” to sit in, just like at family dinners.

“They are very traditional, if this is the table they are sitting at today, they will sit at it next week,” Isaac said. “They develop a social bond with the people they eat with.”

That bond is especially important, she noted.

Many who have walked through the doors at Gracepoint have talked to Isaac about their loneliness, Isaac said. Some lack community support because of personal issues – including mental health problems and addiction – but by having a place to come every Sunday, there is a sense of belonging, she said.

“It’s really changed their lives, maybe not financially, but they have developed friendships and have learned that people actually care about them,” Isaac said.

“Those of us who consider ourselves ‘normal’ won’t talk to someone who is different because we’re afraid, and I can appreciate that, but I think the people we serve encounter a lot of that.”

More than 200 people from all walks of life can show up on any given Sunday, Isaac said. And while she and the volunteers love what they do, she admits it’s hard to come up with the funds for the dinners. Although the church picks up the slack for the food and supplies, the dinners do require financial support from the community, she said.

In previous years, companies have stepped in and helped fund some of the dinners, which have been a great help, said Isaac, but there needs to be more support.

“Six years ago, when I took over leadership for the dinners, I was able to feed people a good roast beef dinner for less than $3, but now it costs $5,” Isaac said. “With the rising cost of food, the cost of electricity and appliance maintenance, we do need help.”

With community support, Isaac said she will be able to focus on the more important things: ensuring that the people who come leave with a full stomach and a smile – including her volunteers.

“We often have people who come up after and say, ‘Wow, we had a ball, it was fun and we got to help someone.’ And that’s the big thing, we are helping other people and taking care of the needs of the less fortunate.”

Sunday dinners at Gracepoint Church, 3487 King George Blvd., begin at 5 p.m.

 

Just Posted

TONIGHT: Eagle Eyes to headline Concerts for the Pier in White Rock

East Beach event to feature The Fab Fourever

Mother’s death causes singer to cancel Surrey Fusion Festival performance

Revised schedule released with Mankirt Aulakh replacing Sharry Mann

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

Three from Surrey inducted into Softball Canada Hall of Fame

Greg Timm, Melanie Matthews and Christman Lee part of 2019 induction class

Toilet, bathtub among junk dumped behind Scott Road thrift store, costing operators money

‘I wish people would appreciate what we do, and not dump their stuff,’ frustrated manager says

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Most Read

l -->