As a young man, Arnold August found both solace and shelter when he needed it most at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.
Some four decades later and long since living an independent, self-sufficient life, August continues to give back.
One of close to 1,000 people who attended the Gospel Mission’s the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Monday, the Kelowna man lends an understanding and sympathetic ear both to those with addictions and others who simply struggle to make ends meet.
“I come down here and try to talk to the brothers, try to help them stay inspired, because we’re having a lot of people passing away nowadays,” August said. “I’m just so thankful for the administration that take the time to care for our brothers and sisters and put this event on.
“I’m retired, I like to volunteer and use as many avenues as I can to help the homeless and those with addictions.”
The number of people who show for the Thanksgiving Dinner grows with each passing year.
Kitchen manager Mandy Phillips expected between 800 and 1,000 meals would be served by the end of the day Monday.
Phillips said record-low vacancy rates in the city are among the many reasons the numbers continue to climb.
“Rent is very expensive in Kelowna,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who come to eat a meal even though they are housed, but by coming here we just bridge that gap for them.
“There are also lot of people here who stay at the shelter, a lot people who are on the streets, and there are also a lot of working poor here in Kelowna,” added Phillips. “Some are also seniors and they’re lonely, so it’s time to come in and enjoy a meal with a group of people they can get to know.”
Among the more than 50 volunteers helping to serve Thanksgiving Meals were MP Stephen Fuhr, MLAs Steve Thomson and Norm Letnick, and Kelowna councillor Ryan Donn.