Quu?asa lends helping hand to struggling citizens

By Denise Titian, November 1, 2011
Port Alberni — 

Once again staff of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s Quu?asa Program have stepped up to provide meals to Port Alberni’s most vulnerable population.

On Oct. 24 Quu?asa opened the doors to its 5120 Argyle Street location to offer a healthy, hot meal to low income people.

Dubbed the Very Scary Halloween Luncheon, Quu?asa staff served up barbequed hamburgers and hotdogs, potato chips and fresh fruit.

Andrea Amos-Stoney, Quu?asa Counselor estimates there are 100 to 150 low income or at-risk people that frequent Port Alberni’s downtown social services agencies.

“It’s a long month for them, five weeks between (social assistance) cheques,” she pointed out. Many low income people are hungry at this time of the month and Amos-Stoney said luncheon organizers made a point of offering up healthier choices, like whole wheat buns and fresh-squeezed fruit juice.

Clinical Counselor David Zyrd brought his juicer from home and prepared made to order fruit and vegetable juices as patrons looked on.

Amos-Stoney estimated more than 100 people were served lunch over the three-hour event. There were up to 20 diners seated at the tables at any given time with small waves of new people arriving after other people left.

NTC Nurse Helen Dick was there to provide health information about tuberculosis. Besides providing good healthy food to the less fortunate, the luncheon also allowed people the opportunity to socialize.

Many of the people were grateful for the generosity of the Quu?asa program. Several stopped at the door on their way out, making sure to thank staff members before leaving.

The Quu?asa Program supports Nuu-chah-nulth people on their healing journeys. They help them to achieve full spiritual, mental, emotional and physical potential through the programs and services they offer.

They mainly focus on residential school survivors and their families, offering information and support to those going through the residential school independent assessment process.

Quu?asa’s Argyle Street doors are open to the public on weekdays during normal business hours. During that time, low-income people have a place to drop-in for a free cup of coffee and maybe toast or fruit.

“We’re a welcoming environment; We give them a little something to have,” said Amos-Stoney.

 The month of December is another notoriously lean time for low income people. Amos-Stoney said the Quu?asa Program will likely provide another luncheon then.

The food offered at the luncheon was paid through a small budget provided by VIHA (Vancouver Island Health Authority). Quu?asa Program staff donated personal items and services during the luncheon.