Saturday was the perfect day for a picnic along Kelowna’s waterfront, and that’s exactly what the Kelowna Gospel Mission hosted.
The third annual event saw dozens of people lining up at a time for freshly cooked burgers, but the picnic wasn’t just about free food for all.
“It’s a community barbecue for our entire community,” said Randy Benson, executive director of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.
“It’s also to keep the issue of homelessness at the top-of-mind for the people in our community.”
Benson said that the Kelowna Gospel Mission makes breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day of the year, and Saturday’s picnic is the only event when it makes a meal outside of its building.
“They enjoy the experience. I mean, who doesn’t love a picnic? It’s a great lunch,” he said.
“It helps our community interact with the people we serve as well, and normalizes it because people who are homeless aren’t any different than you and I.”
Chord Cheslock says he spent 32 years on the street, but was able to get his life together thanks to Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and was thrilled to be part of the picnic.
“I still try to help them out as best I can because I know what it’s like to be on the streets,” he said.
“I’m glad someone told me to come here to have burgers near good people. So, here I am, and I’m just excited. It’s awesome.”
Though many offered to give donations for the food, the event was not intended to be a fund-raiser for the Gospel Mission.