After making national headlines, Kate Valiquette, owner of Hope’s Kitchen, has seen a swell of support from coast to coast.
Valiquette and her husband, Chris Brown, have been supporting the area’s homeless during the pandemic by opening a restaurant, doubling as a warming shelter.
After a national news story on Hope’s Kitchen aired earlier in the week, Valiquette says over $30,000 has been donated from people across the country.
“It filled our bank account,” said Valiquette, who, alongside Brown, have been funding Hope’s Kitchen out of their own pockets.
“It takes some of the financial stress off of me and Chris (Brown),” she added.
Valiquette says her phone has blown up with messages from people in every province or territory. She says many of them expressed their gratitude for what she and Brown are doing for the homeless population, adding that some have said that Hope’s inspired them to be more charitable this Christmas.
“I’m amazed at the generosity of Canada at this point,” Valiquette said.
Hope’s Kitchen recently moved from its original location on McIntyre Street to a larger space on Cassells Street.
A GoFundMe page was started by Valiquette late in November to raise money to outfit the new location.
With the original goal of $15,000 already met, Valiquette bumped the target to $25,000 when donations began to pick up.
As of Friday afternoon, the GoFundMe page has raised over $26,000, with some people donating thousands of dollars at a time.
Valiquette says the influx of money will go toward installing a washer and dryer at the new location, along with showers for people to use. She also plans on assembling holiday care packages for the area’s vulnerable population.
Valiquette will now be able to pay a lawyer to assist in turning Hope’s into a non-profit organization, making it eligible to receive government funding.
“In the next couple of weeks, we should be non-profit and good to go,” Valiquette confirmed.
And with the new, larger location, Valiquette says she has needed every bit of extra space.
“We are at capacity pretty much every day, all day. The extra space is wonderful,” she said.
Up to 20 people are allowed inside the new location as part of COVID-19 health protocols, which is still up from the capacity of eight at the McIntyre Street venue.
In less than a year, Valiquette and Brown turned Hope’s Kitchen from a simple outreach project for the homeless to a full-fledged warming shelter on its way to becoming a non-profit entity.
“I never would have expected when we started out pounding the pavement and handing out care packages that this is where we would end up but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Valiquette finished.