The 9-10 Club offers nutritious and varied meals, the club helps as many as possible to reach a point of no longer needing free soup, and actively promotes a healthy drug, alcohol, and smoke-free environment. This article originially appeared as the Philanthropy Page feature in the Black Press in July, 2011.
Even though they love what they do, the 9-10 Club volunteers would like to put themselves out of business.
One hundred volunteers serve soup to nearly 1,000 people each week – an average of 200 people each morning.
Located in the basement of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Victoria, the club has been operating for nearly 30 years. Their goal is to eliminate the need to provide food for the hungry. They may succeed or they may not but they’ll certainly try!
The first volunteers arrive at 5 a.m. each weekday morning to cook the soup – all of the Club’s recipes have been provided by the kitchens at the Fairmont Empress. Doors open at 8 a.m. and the first bowls of soup are served at 8:30 a.m. sharp. Some people come to eat, while others come for the warm atmosphere and coffee.
The bowls of soup are bottomless; the volunteers are efficient and friendly, and keep them topped up.
Breakfast service continues until 10 a.m. when leftover soup is offered in takeout containers.
Though it’s scarcely known by the community at large, a visit on any weekday morning makes it clear that the 9-10 Club is well-liked and respected by its guests.
“Our clients have commented that the volunteers create a ‘kind and gentle’ atmosphere, which generates a mutual respect and often affection between the volunteers and clients,” explains Sheila Connelly, the Club’s co-ordinator and Board President. “What makes the 9-10 Club a success is our company of dedicated volunteers. Not only the front-line staff, but also the legion of volunteers who wash dishes, pick up donated food, prepare vegetables, cook soup fresh each morning, and finally, our donors who help us keep the doors open.”
Because of the support and friendship offered at the Club, many of their guests have become successful community members and even volunteers at the Club.
“Some former clients drop in for a cup of coffee before going off to work, to chat about how they’re doing now,” says Connelly.
By building on the rapport they have with their guests, the Club continues in its 29-year tradition. They offer nutritious and varied meals, support and friendship, help as many as possible to reach a point of no longer needing free soup, and actively promote a healthy drug, alcohol, and smoke-free environment.
The 9-10 Club relies solely on donations from the community – of food, supplies, and time. St. Andrew’s provides the space, light, heat and water needed to keep the space open. The club works with local businesses and a number of individual donors who provide bread, sweets, and other foods for distribution.
St. Michael’s University School and Camosun College provide take-out containers for the soup, and many more donations are given by the Club’s many volunteers.
The 9-10 Club is one of the many local organizations that has applied for a Community Grant from the Victoria Foundation, highlighting the numerous philanthropic opportunities in our community.