A foothills retreat is cooking up a storm this fall to offer warmth to women and children overcoming family violence.
The Diamond Willow Artisan Retreat in Diamond Valley is hosting two cooking sessions this fall through Calgary non-profit organization Soup Sisters.
The 120 litres of soup cooked at both events will feed residents at the Rowan House Emergency Shelter in High River.
Soup Sisters is a non-profit organization that gets community groups together to cook soup for individuals overcoming family violence across the country, and recently expanded to the United States.
“We have a big commercial kitchen and it’s so much fun to have a number of people in there preparing and cooking,” said Pat Lothrop, co-owner of the Diamond Willow Artisan Retreat. “It’s just a really feel good day.”
Lothrop began organizing Soup Sisters events four years ago after learning about the program through a friend who attended a cooking event in Calgary.
For five Sundays each year, Lothrop invites corporate, sport and recreational organizations, as well as individuals, to prepare four 15-litre soup recipes for the Rowan House.
“It seems people get caught up in the activity and it’s quite amazing how quickly the soups all come together,” she said. “It’s an easy and enjoyable process, but you really feel like it is nurturing. It’s a loving way to care for somebody.”
While the soup is simmering, participants sip wine, enjoy a sample of the soup and listen to speeches by Rowan House and Soup Sisters representatives to learn more about the respective organizations, Lothrop said.
“When it’s a nice day sometimes we have our soup outside on the deck instead of the studio,” she said.
Once the soups are prepared and taste tested, the participants label them and separate them into containers for transport to the Rowan House.
“Everybody is quite happy to be able to give in such a caring way,” Lothrop said.
Sherrie Botten, Rowan House’s executive director, said the initiative is very much appreciated.
“When women come here they come without anything and also don’t have to pay for anything when they’re here,” she said, adding the soup provides some relief to their food budget. “They know that the soup has come from a very special place with a very special thought in mind.”
In addition to providing families with warmth and nourishment, Botten said the program also offers an educational component.
“It gives me an opportunity to showcase what Rowan House does in the community,” she said. “If people don’t know about Rowan House, how will they know that we need help and how will people know where to go if they need help?”
Botten said the shelter has volunteers who transport the soup and educate participants.
“The people making the soup understand where it’s going and the women that live here know where the soup is made,” she said. “They, for the most part, understand the story and understand that people in the community are thinking about them and want to help support them when they’re in a difficult situation and living away from their own home. It’s an opportunity to let people know what we do for children and women dealing with violence in the area.”
The next Soup Sisters event on Sept. 28 is already full. Space is available for the Nov. 30 session. The cost is $55 each.
To register go to www.soupsisters.org or diamondwillowartisanretreat.com