The Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre was packed full of loving and appreciative faces on Wednesday night as staff and community members honored co-founder Tony Martin as part of the soup kitchen’s 35th anniversary celebrations.
Martin, who previously served as Sault Ste. Marie’s MPP at Queen’s Park and also as its MP in Ottawa, was greeted with hugs from almost everyone in the room as he arrived to receive a plaque in his honour. On top of that, the Soup Kitchen Community Centre also dedicated the hall to him, naming it the Tony Martin Community Hall.
“We just really want to thank him for his guidance and for fighting poverty – not just for the city here, but the country-wide when he was Member of Parliament and Member of Federal Parliament also,” Soup Kitchen Community Centre General Manager Ron Sim told SaultOnline.
Martin was instrumental in starting the soup kitchen 35 years ago after the Steel Plant went down, causing many people to lose their jobs. He, along with some other caring individuals, opened the soup kitchen in the basement of Blessed Sacrament Church, where they ended up for seven years, moving into the current location on James St. in 1990.
Since then, the soup kitchen has grown, expanding the programming they offer, while serving the community members who continuously need it.
“We’re here to lend a helping hand for anybody and we just always hope and pray that people will reach out to us if they do need help – we’re always here and we never refuse anybody,” Sim said.
Sim said it feels good to be able to honour one of his mentors in a such a big way.
“I’ve worked off and on with Tony for quite a few years and he’s got one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever met and his heart and soul were basically just there to fight for the voice of everybody, especially the poor.”
He continued, also thanking the community for all of their support in the last 35 years.
“Without all of their help and dedication and generosity, we could not do what we do,” he said.
To learn more about the Soup Kitchen Community Centre, click here.