Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels had a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday to mark the opening of a new Silver Cafe meal site at St. Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church at 602 E. Sixth St. in Deer Park.
The site replaces the previous location in Deer Park City Hall, where lunches have been served every weekday for years.
“We’ve been blessed to serve the Deer Park community for many years at Deer Park City Hall, where the senior center is,” said Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels director Jeff Edwards.
The new location in the church’s parish center is five times larger than the old space. It’s also easily accessible to seniors who use walkers or wheelchairs, unlike the location in City Hall.
“There were stairs and a very long, winding access ramp,” Edwards said.
The new location seemed ideal, and the increased space will allow the program to expand, since the number of seniors is expected to increase in the coming decade, Edwards said. “We think it’s going to be an important part of how we serve the Deer Park community,” he said. “This represents the furthest north location we have. It serves as the hub for everyone north to the county line.”
Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels has volunteers who deliver hot meals to seniors in their homes throughout Spokane County, but it also has 12 Silver Cafe locations in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Deer Park and Cheney that serve seniors who still have the ability to leave their homes.
There has been a lot of interest in the new location from the community, said North Spokane County Program Supervisor Char Chambliss. The old location in City Hall usually drew about 12 to 14 people a day.
“Here I’m expecting at least 20,” Chambliss said. “We have 30 scheduled for the opening day. They told me they would be here. They’re very excited.”
The Silver Cafe opens at 10 a.m. for coffee every weekday, followed by soup at 10:30 and lunch from 11 to 11:45 a.m. The suggested donation is $5 for seniors over the age of 60, but people do not have to pay if they are unable to, Chambliss said. “No one is ever turned away,” she said.
Those under 60 are also welcome at the meals, but they must pay $6.
The Rev. Tom Connolly said he was approached by Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels when they were looking for a new location.
“We really welcomed them with open arms,” he said.
Quite a few church members were among the large crowd that gathered for the ribbon cutting, Connolly said.
“I know that some of our members went in the old location,” he said. “I anticipate more will step up now that it’s in their home.”
Connolly said the church is allowing Greater Spokane Meals on Wheels to use their building free of charge.
“We see it as a service to the community,” he said.
People helped themselves to coffee and cookies and sat at tables chatting while they waited for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Stephanie Johnson brought her mother-in-law, Ronna Sue Johnson. She went to the old Deer Park location, but it was difficult for her to navigate with her walker.
“She needs to get out of the house,” Stephanie Johnson said. “She likes to socialize. It’s much easier for her here.”
Ronna Sue Johnson said she liked the new location, including the spacious bathrooms.
“I live just down the road,” she said. “It’s certainly easier to get in than the other one was.”
Deer Park Mayor Tim Verzal helped cut the ribbon to officially open the new Silver Cafe.
“Meals on Wheels, I wish you guys success in your new location,” he said as the crowd cheered.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.