(Above) A group of New LIfe Church hot lunch volunteers. (Below) Prince Charles Secondary School principal Sharen Popoff with Jane Gray and Herman Koehoorn of the New Life Christian Church.

Creston church awarded by BC Principals and Vice Principals Association

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On May 11, Jane Gray and Herman Koehoorn attended the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association banquet in Richmond to receive a Community Partnership Award. Gray and Koehoorn represented the New Life Christian Church, which has provided a weekly hot lunch for eight years, and were accompanied by Prince Charles Secondary School principal Sharen Popoff.

The group received one of six awards given out across B.C. to organizations/individuals that have voluntarily supported schools in an ongoing manner and over a significant period of time.

In her application letter, Popoff wrote, “The lunch is cooked in the church basement and approximately 400 of our students choose to visit and enjoy the food. The lunch is served ‘without conditions’ so no religious component is included; all students are welcome regardless. Students are greeted with warm welcomes, smiles, and hugs and given a hearty, homemade lunch each week.

“The effect on the school environment is considerable. … The afternoon classes on Fridays are calm and positive. Students return from lunch smiling and happy. The students feel cared for by their community and loved by people who are ‘not related’ and, in the students’ eyes, ‘not required’ to care for them. Behavior at the church is positive and students are polite, clean up after themselves and ensure their language and actions are respectful. The cooks and servers learn student names and say hello to them in the community. …

“Creston is a community heavily dominated by retired seniors. At times the youth feel that they are not respected by their community, nor understood. This bridge that has developed between the teens and the church volunteers provides a huge reminder that they belong, as well. Creston is also a community that has a below-average income level and the lunch provides many with their best meal of the week.”

Students said the following:

“The people are nice there and the food is always good. I always look forward to Fridays if I am here and not away for hockey.” — Colby, Grade 10

“It is a lovely environment with caring and helpful people. A pleasure to attend.” — Katrina, Grade 12

“It is so amazing that it is free.” — Brittiney, Grade 8

“It’s so good. Just makes my Friday that much better.” — Robbie, Grade 12

“Mouthwatering just thinking about it. The people are welcoming. They don’t make you feel awkward for eating a lot.” — Ryley, Grade 10

“I’m glad that they’re so open and accepting.” — Patricia, Grade 11