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Vancouver charity rallying to replace Thanksgiving meals for seniors after delivery bike stolen

Last Updated Oct 10, 2020 at 8:24 pm PST

(Submitted by Siobhan Powlowski, Gordon Neighbourhood House)

A specialized bike with a trailer and coolers was packed with Thanksgiving dinners when it was stolen Friday

Gordon Neighbourhood House is scrambling to replace the ruined food since seniors count on the meal program

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Staff and volunteers in Vancouver’s West End are scrambling to replace 200 turkey dinners destined for isolated seniors after the bike being used to deliver them was stolen and ended up at the bottom of a Stanley Park ravine.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Gordon Neighbourhood House has been delivering meals to people who need them using a specialized bike with a trailer and coolers.

When the driver set out Friday afternoon, the trailer was packed with Thanksgiving dinners.

“On the second delivery of the day, the driver got off the bike to go and drop off a meal at somebody’s door. When they came back they found that the bike was gone. So, that threw us all into a bit of a panic,” explains Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski.

In addition to turkey and all the fixings, the meals included cards and placemats hand-coloured by kids in the neighbourhood house’s childcare program.

“This isn’t just your standard TV dinner, this is something we’ve really worked hard and created with love,” she says.

“It was sort of a whole package, a whole care package. That was something that was important for us because we typically do a Thanksgiving lunch every year and we seat 60, 70, 80- people so this was the alternative that we were able to do under COVID. It’s a hard season for a lot of people in this neighbourhood and particularly for some of our seniors who are needing to be that much more cautious and are spending a lot of time at home.”

Powlowski says half the staff hit the streets and took to social media trying to find the bike.

Everyone else got in the kitchen.

“It’s Friday afternoon before the Thanksgiving weekend, the most important thing is to make sure people had food on the table that night because they rely on these meals. It threw us into a bit of a frenzy,” she says.

“We could get everybody a dinner for the evening but not the meals they were counting on for the week.”

Big thanks to our community for coming together to support our weekly meal program!! More than half of our seniors…

Posted by Gordon Neighbourhood House on Saturday, October 10, 2020

About an hour after the theft, a man walking in Stanley Park saw a light shining from the bottom of a 20-foot ravine.

“I thought, ‘What the heck is that?'” says Brian Mackenzie.

“So I went closer to the bank, and sure enough there was a cart down there. I thought, ‘What on earth is a cart doing down there?’ So I yelled to see if anybody was there or hurt.”

He flagged down park rangers who were able to figure out that no one was hurt.

A towing company had to be called to hook up chains and haul the abandoned bike up on to the path.

“It really was an amazing neighbourhood effort to find the bike in the middle of Stanley Park within an hour, it really shows the level of connectivity within the neighbourhood,” Powlowski says.

“They were able to get the bike out, but unfortunately by the time we were able to pull it out of the woods, the meals were ruined. We couldn’t use any of them.”

Powlowski says she and the neighbourhood house’s chef have a plan to roast more turkeys Sunday and replace the meals.

But she is hoping local businesses will pitch in with food or donations to help make it happen, adding she’s been fielding calls from concerned neighbours who want to help out since Friday afternoon

“We’ll get those meals out one way or another and it’s really going to be because of this overwhelming support we’ve gotten from the community,” she says.

“What I know very firmly to be true about this neighbourhood is that people look after each other.”