Br. John Frampton (centre, first row), animator of St. Francis Table, gets some help holding up a novelty cheque representing The Bouvlevard Club’s recent donation to the resturant for the poor. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Boulevard Club’s cheque a welcome guest at St. Francis Table restaurant

  • January 26, 2017

A partnership between St. Francis Table and The Boulevard Club will help the Franciscan-run restaurant for the poor continue to serve up its signature dish — dignity.

“We work in this community, we live in this community and we want to give back to the community,” said Noni Bruyere, a spokesperson for The Boulevard Club in Toronto’s west end. “(St. Francis Table) allows people to come in, sit down, be served and be treated like a human being. It brings them off the street and for $1 they can get a meal and that gives everyone a sense of dignity.”

On Jan. 18, Bruyere visited the 40-seat restaurant at 1322 Queen St. W. in the city’s Parkdale neighbourhood with an over-sized novelty cheque representing The Boulevard Club’s $19,250 donation.

Br. John Frampton, the restaurant’s animator for more than a decade, was delighted to accept the gift.

“My philosophy is to be happy with what we get and we’ll get more that way,” he said. “Other agencies complain ‘there’s not enough, there’s not enough, there’s not enough,’ but we make do with what we get. Being grateful for what we get enables us to give more.”

After making a small donation to St. Francis Table last year, Boulevard Club members designated the meal-making ministry as one of three primary benefactors of the club’s annual fundraising gala in November.

“All of the proceeds from the members that buy the tickets and from the donated items from the silent auction get pooled and given back to the community,” Bruyere said.

The club raised $77,000, with 25 per cent going to St. Francis Table, 25 per cent going to the Parkdale Community Food Bank and 50 per cent going to support the meal program at Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre.

“You have to focus on one particular area that is going to make a difference and nutrition, everybody needs it,” she said. “We hope to be on board for $100,000 next year.”

St. Francis Table, established in 1987, welcomes guests nine times each week, serving about 46,000 meals annually. It counts entirely on donations to fund its $400,000 annual budget.

Frampton said there’s “nothing specific” planned for the additional funding, although “it’s an old building and yesterday we discovered that we need some plumbing (work done) in the basement.”

Dominic Morris, one of three paid kitchen staff, called the donation “huge” and began pointing out the various costs associated with St. Francis Table.

“It is not just food that we do here, there is a whole building that needs to be maintained,” said the 47-year-old. “That includes everything from replacing the stove and maintaining the refrigeration units too. All of those things still have to be purchased with donated money.”

Bruyere said The Boulevard Club is committed to helping operations like St. Francis Table.

“We hope to continue it,” she said. “We love the dignity that this organization gives to people. It truly is a great program in this community.”

A fixture on the lakefront since 1905, The Boulevard Club is more than just a group of 4,000 water-sport enthusiasts, said Bruyere.

“The club is a responsible neighbour who is compassionate and empathetic to the causes that concern our communities.”

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