The power of the people overtook the loss of power at Vernon’s Upper Room Mission Monday.
Preparing for the second of three Easter Service Meals – in this case, lunch – the Mission staff and volunteers had to scramble after power to the facility was lost at around 11:30 a.m. The suspected culprit was a knocked out transformer at a nearby construction site that cut power to many homes and businesses in the downtown area.
“Lunch was soup and sandwiches, but we’re doing take-outs now as we can’t let anyone in the building when the power’s out because we’re a soup kitchen,” said Rita Evans, kitchen manager at the Mission and the namesake behind Rita’s Kitchen at the facility.
With about a dozen volunteers and staff members helping, soup was placed in to-go containers, and sandwiches were wrapped and both were handed out to approximately 60 guests outside the Mission.
The plan on Monday was to prepare three Easter service meals for the guests: breakfast, consisting of cereal, toast, muffins peanut butter and jam, lunch, and Easter supper consisting of ham, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, salad and dessert.
Easter Supper will still be served. But 24 hours later than expected. The Mission made the decision prior to the power being returned to postpone the dinner until Tuesday.
“Tonight we are serving a meal to go, just not an Easter meal,” said Josh Winquist, community liaison at the Mission, Monday at 1:30 p.m. “Power is back on but out of an abundance of caution we chose to push Easter dinner to tomorrow. We were uncertain when the power was going to return, so we made the decision to order pizza for the guests instead.”
And that’s fine with Evans, who took an overdose of 12 bottles of pills almost 12 years ago because, she said, she was an alcoholic. When she woke up, she said, “I saw a path that led me from Kelowna hospital to to the Upper Room Mission, and I’ve been here ever since.”
She’s been cooking and serving free meals for the past six years.
“The guests are very appreciative,” she said. “I love seeing them every day with their smiling faces. It gives them a place to come to talk or to sit, to enjoy each other’s company. Everyone’s welcome, we don’t discriminate.
“I love it here. I wake up every day looking forward to coming here.”
* According to B.C. Hydro, 23 customers were still affected by the power outage at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Power was expected to be fully returned by 2:30 p.m.