One of Kingston’s food charities is kicking off what they hope will become an annual fundraiser in the city.
This year, the fundraiser is coming at a time when Martha’s Table needs funds to support the expansion of the charity’s operating space after they managed to purchase the other half of their semi-detached building in December of last year.
That space was previously a doctor’s office and requires renovations in order to turn the interior into an open space fit for hosting in-person breakfast, lunch and eventually, dinner. Executive Director Ronda Candy said they opened up part of the space as a warming centre during the winter in order to utilize what they had, but they’re looking forward to being able to bring more socializing back to Martha’s mission.
While the charity had been able to raise and save enough over the years to support capital expansion and the purchase of this building, more fundraising is now needed to help with the renovations and eventually, the sustained operation of expanded service.
“They’ll be going towards the expansion project, once we get those renovations and changes made to make the space safe and efficient for us the number of meals are going to increase,” Candy said. “So when we hit 2024’s spring fundraiser those funds would go towards paying for food.”
Martha’s is now introducing the springtime “Empty Boards” fundraiser to pair with their longtime fall endeavour, Empty Bowls.
Where attendees at the Empty Bowls event get a bowl of soup and take home a handcrafted bowl, those going to Empty Boards will eat charcuterie and go home with an authentic board stamped with Martha’s logo and crafted by two local military veterans.
The event is being hosted at the Grand Theatre and is being paired with a performance by The Kim Pollard Band, with the whole event running from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Jun. 16, 2023.
The Grand holds about 750 people, but Martha’s is aiming for 550 ticket sales in an effort to keep things a little more open at the event.
Candy said they thought doing an event paired with music would be a great idea, and that Pollard’s positivity through music is a great fit.
“It just sort of resonates with me and connects with Martha’s mission,” she said. “I think it will be a good pairing.”
Candy explained that there isn’t a regular dinner service available in the city right now and she expects basically everyone who comes to Martha’s currently for lunch will also be coming for dinner, so their amount of service is bound to increase greatly with the pending expansion. Previously, the space Martha’s was in was fully occupied by food prep leaving no room for mingling, but in the new building, they will be able to get back to people having meals together and socializing which is almost as important to the charity as feeding people.
Candy said especially during the pandemic, the need for social connection in itself became an epidemic for some. “There’s a large portion of the population that just need options for social time and a space that they can feel safe and welcome in,” she expressed.
“When you’re already at the edge and you’ve got few options it was pretty devastating for some many people… we watched mental health spiral.”
Despite the need for it, entering into an expansion during such economic uncertainty is an intimidating and onerous process for the charity, and the need for support in order to help it go smoothly can’t be understated.
Candy noted that the community has always helped Martha’s, and the organization has always found a way to get things done and fill the need in spite of difficult circumstances.
“We will find a way, the community has been very supportive since 1997,” Candy said. “With further limitations we get more creative. We find ways to stretch those dollars, we find ways to use food and stretch it further. It’s just a challenge.”
She said this fundraiser is a good way for the community to do that as the organization prepares for renovations set to begin on Monday, Apr. 17, 2023. It will ease the expense they know is coming and will come “like a landslide”, and, as services expand, they’ll have to support higher costs of staffing, food, utility etc.
Candy added that even if someone isn’t in a position to buy a ticket, sharing the event or supporting Martha’s with whatever donation of time or funds you can are also valuable ways to help.
Tickets for the Empty Boards fundraiser are on sale now.
Owen Fullerton is a reporter based in Kingston with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI).