Meet Bert

Meet Bert. Adding a breath of fresh air to the environment and the philosophy of the menu, Bert is the new face for the incredibly important meal service we offer at First United.

Bert has developed a great symbiotic relationship with our neighboring grocers and as such as been able to not only cut costs for our meal service but also offer a variety of simple but nutritious options for the community members who seek this service every day. Between this cooperative approach and the generosity of donors, we are able to offer meals to hundreds of hungry people a day; which is particularly important through the busy holiday season.

Bert has worked in kitchens his whole life and finds great satisfaction in escaping the restaurant grind and catering to love of feeding those in need of a warm healthy meal. He values simple, clean recipes that favor the ingredients. “I want my tomato soup to taste primarily of tomato, you know?” he laughs. “Not cumin or some kind of thing.”

You will often find him in the kitchen, up to his elbows in his latest creation, rock music blasting from the small radio that sits on the wall. Or wheeling a cart full of groceries back from Sunrise Market, waving to community members on the street. Embracing this “unorthodox” cooking experience with a sense of tradition and the love of a challenge, Bert fits our idea of inclusiveness and acceptance perfectly.

“Working here is very liberating,” he admits. “You have to look at the big picture: you’re giving food to people who are hungry. It makes me feel like I am doing some good.”

When he is not cooking at First United, Bert has a music career that has made him a storied fixture in the local scene; particularly at the rock venues in the DTES. As such, Bert has a unique appreciation for the community here and the rich culture that has always breathed deeply along Hastings street. It is this deep connection to the area that First United holds most dear, not only in our mandate but within the motivations of our volunteers and staff. Bert is not only no exception but an exemplary representative of this.

The meal service is just one of the programs we offer here that are funded entirely by donation. Bert embraces this reality and uses it to get creative, consistent, and build a solid relationship with the neighborhood as well as the people who call it home.

“People are so supportive here, I always feel appreciated.”

From Bert and all of us at First United Community Ministry, thank you for your support and for helping us make the holiday season warm and welcoming for our community.

To help provide materials or funds for Bert and the kitchen staff, or to donate winter necessities such as cold weather wear and rain gear this holiday season, Contact Natalie Lanoville at nlanoville@firstunited.ca or 604.681.8365 ext.104.

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