When it comes to her home, wherever that may be, Nicole Lafreniere says she has always had an open door policy.
Whether it’s a hot cup of coffee, a cold beer on a hot summer day, a couch to crash on or just a kind ear, the 31-year-old married mother of two says for her, life is all about offering people the kindness she’d never been shown — especially around Thanksgiving.
“I’ve noticed there are a lot of people in the Okanagan — but that also means there are probably a lot of lonely people here too, and I know what that feels like.”
That’s why she is holding an open-door Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. The dinner will be held Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with leftovers served between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday. The meal is being prepared by Lafreniere and volunteers and there is no charge to attend or participate in the event.
The dinners will be held outdoors at 8906 Aberdeen Road, across from Apple Tree Daycare. For those who use public transit, Lafrenier says the property is located along Route #1.
In regard to her reason for providing a large free meal to potentially dozens of strangers, Lafreniere said it’s less a question of why and more a question of why not.
“No one should be alone this weekend. And even if you’re not alone, I think it’s a great way to bring a community together and have a good time.”
Though the concept for the dinner was initially born out of wanting to give people with no family in the area a nice place to go for Thanksgiving dinner, Lafreniere said once she shared her idea on social media, it quickly went viral and morphed into a “giant community gathering.
“It just sort of happened at random,” she said.
“I posted on a Vernon Facebook forum that nobody should be lonely or go hungry on Thanksgiving, and then the generosity of this amazing community just exploded. People started messaging me, businesses started messaging me wanting to help. Everyone’s really come together.”
She said even her employer is pitching in.
“Luxury Cleaning has taken up a collection of coats, clothing, shoes and bedding, so if anyone who comes is in need of anything, we will be able to provide them with some things,” she said.
“There will also be games and toys for children who attend to play with and also we’re hoping to have a big bonfire after dinner.”
Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information or to donate, contact Lafreniere at 250-351-5732.