Slave Lake Friendship Centre secondhand store reopens

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The plan last week was for the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre’s secondhand store to reopen on June 1.

With the COVID-19 health measures, back in March the Friendship Centre closed everything except the food bank and the Mat Program, for the homeless.

Barb Courtorielle is the Friendship Centre executive-director. Over the last while, people keep asking her: When is the secondhand store reopening?

“So many people are looking,” she says, “and some of our low income families are looking for summer clothes for their kids.”

The Friendship Centre is once again accepting donations for the secondhand store.

While the Friendship Centre could legally reopen on May 15, Courtorielle waited so the centre would be prepared.

On May 25, Heather Imrie, the COVID coordinator started. The Friendship Centre receives several emails per day with COVID information. The deluge of information and the need to keep her staff safe were two of the reasons Courtorielle made this position.

Slave Lake is one of the first Friendship Centres in the province to hire a COVID coordinator, says Courtorielle. “We need to make sure we’re safe here.”

By June 1, the plan is to have everything ready to go. This includes requesting that people not bring children into the store and only three people in the store at all times. Staff and volunteers sorting donations have to wear gloves and a mask.

People are welcome to volunteer to sort donations.

During COVID, the number of people using the food bank increased in March and April. In May, however, the numbers were down.

“I have a feeling people are afraid to come,” says Courtorielle. They don’t know there’s delivery. Community volunteers will continue delivering food for the foreseeable future.

During Ramadan which ended the last weekend in May, the Slave Lake Mosque held its annual Ramadan food drive. It donated 1,137 pounds of food and $1,500.

Shopper’s Drug Mart participated by selling items at cost. Alimo’s Pizzaria rewarded donations with 20 per cent back in gift cards.

The food bank is going very well, said Courtorielle. “I had to open another room to hold all of the groceries.”

In other Friendship Centre news, the Friendship Centre’s elders’ outreach worker has safety kits for any interested seniors. These include household cleaners and sanitizer.

Clockwise from the bottom middle: Barb Courtorielle, Lorna Yellowknee, Peter Cardinal, Calvin Steele, and Moe Mouallem pose with Ramadan food drive donations.

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