History of the PIT Stop Program
The People In Transition Program was started at Kamloops United Church in 1996 or 1997. It was run by volunteers Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 12 noon, with donations of supplies. It was a grassroots response to the increasing effects of poverty on the marginalized citizens of Kamloops.
The purpose was, and still is, to provide a healthy, caring and positive environment for people experiencing the effects of poverty. It provides informal community support, people helping people. It strengthens the community through cooperation, participation, and empowerment. It is a resource for people and provides information and referrals to other service providers in Kamloops. Originally it provided free coffee, snacks and some meals.
In 1998 or 1999 the program moved to the Rafter G Hotel on Seymour Street and the operating times were changed to 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., Monday to Friday. This was done in an effort to reach out to others who could benefit from the services being provided, especially the preparation of hot meals. It continued to be supported by KUC, the Aids Society of Kamloops, the Food Bank, the New Life Mission and others, and was still mostly run with volunteers and donations. However, this move resulted in costs to use the new facility, ($500+ per month), as well as the need for more volunteers, and subsequently the service was reduced to 3 days a week.
In 2000 the program moved again to the Kamloops Food Bank facility on Lorne Street and the service was further reduced to Sunday and Monday evenings from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. At that time, the Aids Society of Kamloops was funding the rental of the facility, ($300 per month), and also provided a staff person to coordinate the operation. It was occasionally operated out of KUC when the Food Bank facilities were unavailable.
In 2002 the Aids Society of Kamloops was impacted by government funding cuts and it was necessary to withdraw their paid staff coordinator and funding from the program. With the loss of funding there was some question of the ability of the program to continue to function despite the fact the Food Bank was willing to waive the rental charge.
Later that year the Food Bank moved to their current North Shore location and the coordinators of PIT Stop felt there was still a very serious need for some assistance for marginalized people on the South Shore of Kamloops. It was at this point, early in 2002, that KUC once again took over operation of the program. PIT Stop was moved back to the church and operation of the Sunday hot meal program has run from KUC since that time.
The objectives of the program are to offer nourishment and outreach to those people in our community that are sometimes overlooked, ignored, feared, and/or misunderstood because of their troubling life situations, mental and physical illness, addictions and poverty. We also want to illustrate the compassionate face of Kamloops United Church, the City of Kamloops and its citizens. It benefits those citizens who give and those who receive.
At KUC, the PIT Stop is a completely volunteer delivered program. We utilize the Food Bank’s Food Share program to augment the purchased food. We buy in bulk and utilize sales and discounts to reduce costs. In addition, we solicit and receive cost reductions, or donated food and other items, from local businesses and individuals. We are fortunate to receive cash donations and support from local faith congregations, as well as community members and organizations. Many equipment replacement items are provided by the Kamloops United Church Thrift Store. There is no charge for our meals and we have no membership dues for participants or volunteers. Each year in December we host an annual Christmas Dinner for our guests. We serve turkey with all the trimmings and give out bags filled with goodies and essential items. In 2010 we had approximately 155 Christmas guests who all received a wonderful meal and an abundance of donated items.
The PIT Stop services do not overlap with any other existing agency in Kamloops. As documented on the Access Kamloops Resources Website, this program provides the only regular, year-round, free, complete, nutritious Sunday dinner available to ALL persons in need. We are currently serving 100 to 140 people each Sunday.
The program has an active roster of over 275 individual volunteers who dedicate a total of more than 4500 hours of volunteer service each fiscal year.
In 2002, KUC received a Social Planning Grant of $3500, from the City of Kamloops to help run the program. We have continued to receive a grant yearly, with the amount gradually increasing to $6000 in 2008, $8100 in 2009, and $9600 in 2010. In addition to the Social Planning Grant, the PIT Stop program receives donations of cash, food, supplies and equipment from members of the Kamloops United Church congregation as well as the wider community. Many of the donor groups also volunteer with the program.
Current Community Partnerships:
ASK Wellness outreach workers connect and check-in weekly with their clients at PIT Stop. Interior Health Street Nurses have provided diabetes information and a flu shot clinic at PIT Stop. Occasionally we have the opportunity to share resources with the New Life Mission. PIT Stop is an active member of Changing the Face of Poverty, (CFP), a local community networking group led by the Elizabeth Fry Society. This group has been invaluable in providing a venue for PIT Stop to build partnerships with other non-profit and government agencies to solicit support and collaborate to solve challenges facing the marginalized people of Kamloops. All social agencies in Kamloops, non-profit as well as government, are aware of the program and provide the information to their clients. Researchers have collected information for the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan at PIT Stop. PIT Stop works with Food Share from the Food Bank to redistribute unused food from stores in Kamloops. Every Saturday evening, unsold fresh bread is collected from Cobs Bakery and distributed at PIT Stop the following day. At Second Glance Used Bookstore donates books that are offered free at PIT Stop to the guests.
Most notably, in the first 8 months of this fiscal year, 19 different autonomous teams have prepared and served the meals at PIT Stop. These teams come from a wide variety of organizations in Kamloops including: Kamloops West Rotary, Daybreak Rotary, Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, United Way, Thompson Rivers University, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Service Canada, Fulton & Co. Law Offices, Kamloops United Church, South West Baptist Church, Centre for Spiritual Living, Kamloops Unitarian Church, Me to We School Groups, and several teams made up of groups of families and friends.
We are the proud recipients of the 2010 United Way Community Partnership Award. This annual award is given to an agency or group that demonstrates a willingness to partner with others in the community to provide an important service. This award is a wonderful honour for our congregation and recognizes the valuable community service that P.I.T. Stop provides.