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This article was published 31/8/2018 (960 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg kitchen that serves some of the city’s most-needed meals will get a much-needed upgrade, thanks to a successful fundraising campaign that netted more than $150,000 in one month.
The Madison, a supportive housing facility run by Siloam Mission, currently houses and provides three meals per day to 85 tenants, many of whom were once guests at the charity’s Princess Street shelter. But five years after its official opening, the building’s basement kitchen was on its last legs.
Siloam purchased the property in 2011, and it was in rough shape then, said Luke Thiessen, the non-profit’s communications manager.
Before it became a safe space for dozens of tenants looking to improve their lives, the building on Evanston Street was a private rooming house which occasionally played host to violence and crime.
The building was in disrepair, and before opening the facility, Siloam had to gut and renovate all of the suites, as well as the communal bathrooms on each floor.
Those renovations cost $1.5 million.
"It wasn’t as simple as ripping out a carpet and giving it a fresh layer of paint," Thiessen said.
Amidst those vital repairs needed for people to move in, the kitchen wasn’t high on the priority list; it could last a few more years.
However, its lifespan was a bit shorter than expected.
Fixing the kitchen became an urgent matter this year. Residents don’t have kitchens in their rooms, and can’t cook in their suites.
For many, the Madison kitchen is the only reliable meal source.
In need of ventilation improvements, new equipment, and changes to bring it up to code requirements, Siloam began raising money for the kitchen Aug. 1.
Thiessen expected to raise $150,000 by the end of 2018; instead, the number was reached by the end of August.
"We didn’t know what to expect, except that people would be generous," Siloam chief executive officer Jim Bell said Friday.
"But the generosity we saw this month was truly incredible."
Planned upgrades are already underway.
Chris Shaw has lived in the building for 16 years and says the kitchen has been the same since he moved in.
"I thought it was about time for us to get a new one," he said Friday.
"It makes me feel absolutely astonished... It’s a great step forward for the Madison, as well as for the residents."
Shaw said the kitchen’s chefs provide excellent meals — a personal favourite is an Asian stir-fry — and soon, they’ll get to prepare in a facility suited to their needs.
"I think everyone in the building is very pleased," he said.
Thiessen said the organization is still accepting donations toward the facility upgrades, as the $150,000 goal was based on an estimate.
He said the kitchen is "the heart" of the Madison. Now, it’ll keep on pumping for years to come.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.