This Thursday December 19th, Gastown Not-So-Silent Nights brings together Kitchen Table Restaurants, Whole Way House, and a trio of sparking choirs from the Notre Dame Secondary School in Vancouver.
The music starts at 6pm beside the Gastown Steam Clock.
Owned and operated by Nick Rossi, his wife Jennifer Rossi, and a few other business partners, KTR Group “does exactly what it says on the tin” so to speak. Within each of their 6 restaurants (Ask For Luigi, Pourhouse, Pizza Farina, Caffe Di Beppe, Ristorante Di Beppe, Farina A Legna), guests are welcomed and served with a familial connection that can only be found at the kitchen table of friends, loved ones, and family members. The Gastown based group plays important, yet refreshingly humble, hidden roles in giving back to the communities in which they call home. KTR are proud co-founders of the Aprons for Gloves Boxing Association which raises money to provide positive support for the advancement of at-risk youth in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. They also have a close connection to Whole Way House – a vital organization in the Downtown East Side providing housing and life enriching programs to veterans and recovering addicts who have experienced homelessness and mental health issues.
We met up with the director of Whole Way House, Jenny Konkin and KTR’s Jennifer Rossi to find out what made them the neighbourhood’s most unapologetic BFF’s.
I can see that you are both solid BFF’s. How did you two meet?
Jenny: I met Jennifer back in 2013. I was running Whole Way House and her Dad was living here in the building. As an active member of our community building programs and always the enthusiastic volunteer, Ron was the kind of guy anybody would want on their team. Her Dad was forever bragging about how awesome his daughter was with all her restaurants and the awards they were winning. Through my interactions with Ron, I also got to know Jennifer, and we became quite close. When her Dad Ron passed away, we drew closer and became friends. That was around the time when my Dad died. His name was also Ron. We understood each other in our shared loss of a parent, supporting each other through the grief.
I think Jennifer witnessed first hand, the impact Whole Way House has on the lives of those struggling with homelessness, addiction, and metal health issues. As a result, Kitchen Table Restaurants has been very supportive of the work we do, and along with our friendship, a partnership has blossomed.
What does it mean to you to be part of Whole Way House?
Jennifer: Whole Way House gave me five more years with my Dad. Our time together never would have happened without the programs and care that Whole Way House provided for him. It was five great years we shared together, and I know that these programs make all the difference in peoples lives.
Pictured above: Jennifer’s Dad, Ron at Whole Way House.
He felt that he belonged here. This was his community, his tribe, and he had a lot of pride around that fact. I heard him often tell me about the smoothies, and the coffee programs, the event nights, and the Christmas dinners. This is harm reduction in action. Whole Way house gave my Dad his life back and I am deeply grateful for this gift.
Are you excited to be part of Gastown Not-So-Silent Nights?
Jennifer: We always love to support anything that happens in, and to the benefit of our neighbourhoods. And that’s why we love helping Whole Way House, as it’s right across the street from one of our restaurants, Ask For Luigi. Personally, it’s super important to play a part in assisting the smaller organizations in Gastown and the Downtown Eastside.
Jenny: For us it has had a huge impact as being a smaller organization, the funds go directly into our programs to support seniors & veterans that have experienced homelessness, allowing us to provide the Christmas family dinners, the smoothie programs to maintain residents nutrition, the coffee meet-ups that foster community, and so much more.
Tantamount to that is the reality that a local business and charity, both in the same community, can work together. It’s equally important to acknowledge the fact that both neighbourhood business owners and people coming to Gastown for the shopping and dining out, and people living in the Downtown Eastside – that it is not us and them, that the vulnerable ones are not in this alone – that we can all work together. There’s often talk about gentrification but what I see is an opportunity to have incredible relationships. Everyone is welcome here. There is no separation but rather one community that can grow together.
Jenny Konkin from Whole Way House featured on Get Inspired Talks podcast – December 7, 2018
Notre Dame Choirs
Led by the forever interesting and eccentric Simon Isherwood, Notre Dame bring it!
Like the explosion of a Christmas tree with an over abundance of glittering ornaments, Notre Dame are hitting Gastown this year with 80 rocking choristers in 3 different troupes: The Iron Men, The Platinum Girls and The Silver Bellas.
Below: Check out the Platinum Girls performing on Water Street for Yule Duel 2016.