Helping hands in the community

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

Through the kindness of the community, no belly will go empty thanks to helping hands. Brooke Ghostkeeper, a family service specialist with WJS Canada and Barb Courtorielle with the Native Friendship Centre who have created a new initiative called Warm Bellies for the Mat Program.

The idea behind this new initiative is to get different business in the community to take turns cooking meals for the homeless.

Courtorielle runs the Mat Program in the basement of the St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church on 7th St. SE in Slave Lake. It takes in homeless community members and gives them a warm meal and a place to sleep.

She said people who show up will receive a warm meal a mat to sleep on and a movie for their viewing pleasure. Most people who show up are usually alone, said Courtorielle but, some couples do come in.Ghostkeeper said Courtorielle cooks seven days a week all by herself and so she wanted to come up with a way to help alleviate some of that cooking by getting businesses in town to take turns cooking meals for 12 and bring them to the church between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Courtorielle said she usually gets 12-14 people each night.

She said last week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cooked a turkey dinner.

WJS Canada has volunteered to step in and cook on Wednesdays, said Ghostkeeper.

“I am so happy to see people stepping up to help,” said Courtorielle .

She said the Mat Program has been running since November 22 and The Warm Bellies initiative will start on March 14 and go until April 30.

Barb Courtorielle

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