May 7, 2021  

When Craig Thomas bid on the project to renovate the new home of the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, he was already very familiar with the organization. The project manager for the commercial construction company, Banyan Group, was already a weekly volunteer at the old bungalow. The former high performance decathlete and rower is applying the same philosophy he applied to athletics to the two-phase upgrade of The Kitchen’s new facility at the Lutheran Church of the Cross.

It was sports that led Thomas to The Kitchen in the first place. He was introduced to rowing in Toronto by his future wife Alexis who was good friends with Odessa Kelebay, now Pantry Program Coordinator at The Kitchen. The trio eventually moved to Victoria, and when Odessa started at The Kitchen, Thomas and Alexis decided to volunteer. When he heard about the plans to renovate The Kitchen’s new home, Banyan submitted a bid and won the project contract. 

Thomas says Banyan is a good fit for the Kitchen as the two organizations share many of the same attributes. Both strive for an equal, open and friendly atmosphere based on trust and transparency.

Banyan hopes to complete Phase One of the project, involving electrical and mechanical upgrades, new flooring, updated washrooms and two new offices, by June. Phase Two involves construction of an entirely new commercial kitchen. The initial construction informs the work still to come. “Anything we can do now to help reduce the costs down the line, we do,” says Thomas.

The overall budget is being helped enormously by the number of local businesses willing to donate labour or materials. The list continues to grow but currently includes: Banyan, supplying labour for demolition, rough and finish carpentry; interior doors and hardware from GT Mann; interior glass (to provide volunteers with natural light) from Phoenix Glass in Vancouver; electrical work by Brewis Electric; insulation for the new walls from Alpine Insulation; and paint from Sherwin Williams. Don Mann Excavation removed a tree from the property.

The value of the materials and donated or reduced cost labour amounts to about $50,000. Banyan employees and Kitchen volunteers are contributing to that total by doing the interior painting. 

Stay tuned for more exciting updates as the project continues! 

The Shelbourne Community Kitchen is YAM Magazine’s Charity Partner for their 2019 Best Restaurant Awards!

We are honoured to have been chosen as YAM’s Charity Partner and grateful for the opportunity to talk to local restauranteurs and businesses about the work we do, the importance of food security, and to celebrate what moves us all: good food! The awards ceremony was on June 26th at the Fort Commons, and our Program Coordinator, Kim Cummins, gave a speech to help raise awareness about the Kitchen, talk about the organizations need for a new location by September 2020, and invited businesses to collaborate with us together for food security.  It was such an exciting night and we send our congratulations to all the award winners!

YAM wrote a feature about the Kitchen on their website! Check it out:

More about the event: