Editor, the Gazette:
An open letter to the Boundary community
My name is Melissa Shulga and I am pleased to have recently been hired as the coordinator of Whispers of Hope Community Kitchen and Thrift Store. While I am new to the position, I am not new to the organization, having served on the board for almost three years and as treasurer for two of those years.
This last year has been hard on the organization. Change of management coupled with negative social stigma and an eviction notice from the City has sent our humble operation into a tailspin. Many in the community have spoken out both in favor of and against what we do, but the kind and generous actions of several individuals and organizations have spoken the loudest.
Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, shoppers, and advocates who have kept our kitchen strong!
Whisper’s feeds anyone in need during the week, and (as we have for the last few summers) serves an average of 60 people per day. While some of our guests are without, many do have houses to stay in. We do not discern who is in need; instead we offer an open door and an open heart. Despite the public perception of having no rules for our guests, we definitely do have posted expectations, and have asked individuals who have not respected them to leave. Some guests have even been banned. I do not mean to boast this; it is merely to reiterate that we have standards and expect our guests to be respectful. Like other businesses and organizations, we cannot control the actions of our guests outside of our establishment.
Our thrift store serves many in the community who need affordable options. We help to divert items from the landfill, recycle and encourage up-cycling, support crafters and artists, offer discounts to seniors, donate items to fire victims and the impoverished, connect folks with community services, and so much more.
Whispers’ has been labelled enablers, bleeding hearts who are encouraging theft and drug use. I hope, and it would seem, that most do not feel this way. If you suffer loneliness or despair or experience financial, physical, or mental hardship, you have a place in our community. We are compassionate and tolerant to those enduring whatever struggles, and I am proud to be a part of a community that does so. Whispers will overcome misunderstanding as we look for a new home for our organization.
I welcome anyone with concerns or constructive criticism to please help participate! We recognize that communities are complex and it takes many stakeholders to help everyone thrive and evolve. Sharing your experiences and ideas help us to improve our services and nurture healthy relationships.
Whispers of Hope,