Ottawa Booth Centre hosts Easter Sunday dinner


Volunteers serving turkey dinner:
Christine Taylor (volunteer, front left);

Chaplain Louis, (Salvation Army, rear left);
Mark Taylor (Ottawa City councillor),
and Baylie van Gulik (volunteer). 

The Salvation Army’s Ottawa Booth Centre held its annual Easter Sunday Dinner on April 1 at its George St. headquarters.

In all, 318 guests and 11 volunteers came out on a seasonably sunny Sabbath to partake in the traditional turkey dinner.

With the turkey, guests were served mashed potatoes, stuffing, fresh salad, veggies, gravy and cranberries.

Guests were also offered coffee/tea, fruit juice, ice cream and banana bread.

Ottawa City Councillor Mark Taylor, of Bay Ward, and his wife Christine, were among the volunteers who served Easter dinner to the guests. 

Among the guests served was a number of families composed of grandparents, parents and their young children. 

“I have always had a passion for those going through a tough time,” Coun. Taylor said in an interview. “I volunteer at a lot of unique places.”

Since Coun. Taylor was elected in 2010 he has volunteered on five occasions with the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle fund-raising campaign, and he helped serve meals at five Salvation Army Dinners (at Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving.)

Salvation Army staff members Chaplain
(left), Diana, and Jeanot

The Ottawa Booth Centre and Coun. Taylor have in common their focus on the plight of the homeless. The Booth Centre houses on average more than 168 shelter clients every night, while Coun. Taylor has been the Ottawa city council’s special liaison on housing and homelessness since 2016. He was appointed to the position by Mayor Jim Watson. Last month the city made public a mid-term review of its 10-year housing and homeless plan. The review found that the number of chronically homeless families in Ottawa spiked to 236 in 2017, compared with 87 in 2016, according to the report.

Mr. Taylor said on Sunday that he looks forward to the day when shelters will be smaller in size, and the length of time the homeless remain in shelters, will in turn be much shorter. In the meantime “we do what we can” to accommodate the increasing numbers of homeless families, he added.

The Booth Centre has been serving its seasonal dinners for decades. It also runs a Community Meal Line where 130 guests daily are served breakfast and lunch 365 days a year.

Any man, woman and child who is hungry is welcome to attend. In all it served a total of 47,791 meals (in 2016) to the community in this fashion.

This will be Mr. Taylor’s last year as a meal-serving city councillor at the Salvation Army’s dinners, as his term as councillor expires at the end of November, and he will not be running for office for the next four-year term.

The day after Coun. Taylor participated in the Salvation Army Easter dinner, on April 2, he helped serve Easter Dinner at the Ottawa Mission. Coun. Taylor does not talk about his other volunteering, but when pressed, he said:

“I have volunteered with the Pinecrest Queensway CHRC on a number of projects in the community, with the Britannia Woods Community House, with the Bayshore Park Community Garden, with the Caldwell Family Centre Christmas Hamper program, with the Caring and Sharing Exchange back to school and then again with the Christmas campaign."

Christine and Mark Taylor's last
session at an OBC dinner 
while Mark is still a city councillor.

“Finally I also sit (as a volunteer) on the Board of the United Way of Ottawa.

There are others but these are the ones that come to mind.” Other volunteers at the Salvation Army event included Belande,
Baylie, six Salvation Army employees, and one Salvation Army client. The client volunteer said he had an enjoyable time engaging in the role reversal, and his only complaint was a sore arm from placing scoops of ice cream on many guests’ dessert plates.

Volunteer Belande and Salvation Army
Executive Director Marc Provost pause
during a busy afternoon serving Easter
dinner to Booth Centre guests