5:00 pm Doors open. Already a small group of youth wait outside. They walk in with their hello's, their laundry, their anticipation of dinner and some rest.
5:30 pm The main room becomes all conversation, laughs, jokes, tears. Youth check in with each other, the volunteers, the staff. They pull out markers and paper and draw, play UNO or chess, munch on snacks, and talk until dinner.
6:30 pm Sudden quiet. Announcements about job opportunities, events, birthdays, or concerns. Then someone in the room gives thanks for the meal.
Dinner Noise all over again. Youth, volunteers, and staff line up to fill plates and then sit back down together to share a home-cooked meal.
7:00 pm Containers are brought in. Leftovers packed up and offered to those who need food for the next day or for someone else who couldn't make it that night. Some youth head out, some stick around to help clean up or relax, and others come in for a late meal.
7:30 pm Quieter but not really quiet. Monday is a poetry workshop. Thursday it's art. Saturday is After Dinner Movie Night. Always, a volunteer is around to listen, to play a game, to help with homework, laundry, resumes or job search.
8:00 pm Someone comes to show off a new puppy. Someone else shows up with no where to spend the night. Someone else's mum has lost her job, and there's no food at home. Someone has a new girlfriend to introduce.
9:00 pm A neighbour from across the street pops in to say hello or have a cup of coffee. Someone sits down at the piano to play well or just bang around and have some fun. A youth re-strings one of the guitars.
9:30 pm The staff computer is turned over to the youth. They choose their favourite tunes. Dance. Sing. Argue about who's song will be played next. Background noise is dishes washed, chairs put up, floors swept and mopped. Youth pack grocery bags of necessities for the next couple of days. The food pantry will need to be restocked tomorrow.