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L’Arche Tova Café celebrates decade in the heart of Transcona


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This article was published 08/04/2022 (356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Transcona institution celebrated a decade in business recently.

On April 2, L’Arche Winnipeg celebrated the 10-year anniversary of L’Arche Tova Café (119 Regent Ave.) with a ceremony held in the restaurant and online.

“The L’Arche Tova Café, there’s no question, is something very important to L’Arche Winnipeg,” Paul Moreau, L’Arche Winnipeg board president, told the crowd assembled. “I really have to compliment the work everyone at L’Arche has done, but also all our residents.”

When the café opened in 2012, it was intended to be “a place of inclusion and social opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities,” according to an official statement. The café provides training and professional development to individuals with intellectual disabilities in a “friendly and welcoming space” that promotes professional growth and interaction opportunities. It is the second such social entreprise run by L’Arche, the first having been estalished in Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland.

Since the L’Arche Tova Café opened, 15 L’Arche residents have gained work experience serving hungry customers in downtown Transcona, while another 50 employees, family, and other community members have also volunteered, though the pandemic has made that difficult, if not impossible, over the past two years. Since the start of the pandemic, for their safety L’Arche residents have not been volunteering in the restaurant, which, like other restaurants, has been limited in its ability to serve customers as health orders changed. Currently, L’Arche Tova Café is open at 100 per cent capacity.

Two volunteers, Hazel V. and Kathy French, were recognized at the event for their longtime work with the organization. Both women have volunteered at the café since it opened.

“L’Arche is a community that thrives on hugs and smiling faces,” French said. “So it’s a testament to the treasure that is L’Arche and this café that we’re still standing in spite of the pandemic that has ravaged the world these past two years.”

The pair said they’ve done “just about everything but wash windows” at the café, and look forward to being able to get back to their weekly volunteer shifts again soon, when it is safe to do so.

“Over the years, I’ve introduced this café to all my friends,” French said, adding that her and her husband celebrated their shared 65th birthday in the café. “They’ve all been invited to enjoy the wonderful culinary delights and friendship that are served up together at this lovely café.”

Former executive director Jim Lapp, who was not able to attend the meeting, sent a short statement, wherein he acknowledged that not only has the cafe been a success in providing opportunities for L’Arche residents, but also in spreading the word about and building a community around the organization.

“It took more than L’Arche Winnipeg to create this café,” Lapp wrote. “A much, much larger community in Transcona and Winnipeg made it possible.”

Support from the community, including the United Way and Larry and Tova Vickar of Vickar Automotive, were also recognized for their significant and continued contributions to the operation. The initiative is one close to the Vickars heart, as Tova’s brother is on the autism spectrum.

One of L’Arche Winnipeg’s largest fundraising events, the Vickar Automotive Walk with L’Arche, is scheduled for Sat., May 7. For more information, visit larchewinnipeg.org

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112

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