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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Kay Punter’s 100th birthday celebration supports Downtown Mission

by Adam Gault

On Monday, funds to support The Downtown Mission of Windsor’s food bank program were raised at a belated 100th birthday celebration for Kay Punter, a former Essex United Church parishioner.

Punter, who turned 100 earlier this year, was instrumental in the establishment of the food bank at the Downtown Mission in the late 1980s. Members of Essex United Church decided there was no better way to honour her 100 years of life than by helping to support an organization that was near-and-dear to her.

The funds raised through the A1 Chinese Restaurant fundraiser will support the most vulnerable of Windsor-Essex.

“Kay started the downtown food bank, and she only retired ten years ago,” Essex United’s Pastor Jim Hatt said of Punter’s exceptional dedication to the mission, even through her 90th year. “We’re sort of celebrating her birthday and thanking her for all her work for the food bank.”

Now residing in London, Ontario, the celebration was held in absentia of Punter, but no less in her honour, as dozens of the Essex United faithful made their way to the restaurant throughout the day to take part in the celebrations and support her cause.

“It’s a small thing that we can do, and because of A1’s generosity, and giving us so much of what they make today, it’s going to go to celebrating Kay,” Hatt said.

Punter was inspired to start the downtown Windsor food bank nearly 30 years ago, while her husband, Gerald Punter, was Minister at Bedford United in Windsor’s West end. He would later become Minister at Essex United.

Witnessing that many in her community needed a food bank and a hand-up, she took it upon herself to bring a food bank to downtown Windsor, and with it, helped assist countless lives over the next several decades.

“That was her way of giving back to society, and she did it for 20 years. She had a very generous spirit,” Hatt said.

Noting there has been an incredible increase in reliance on the Downtown Mission foodbank over the last decade, Hatt stressed that it was important for members of the community to support programs like the food bank, which can have an often, unseen, positive impact for people in the region from all backgrounds and walks of life.

“It’s almost unbelievable. It’s probably double than it was ten years ago,” Hatt said, citing statistics of increased usage. “We’ve grown to have a dear place in our hearts for Downtown Mission, and the food bank is just one of the things that we can do to help.”


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