Cultivating Community: Kathryn Slomski on the Rabbit Hole Café

If there’s one piece of advice that gets drilled into your head over and over before coming to college by friends and family, it’s to pursue your interests and get involved. Going to class and studying hard is paramount, but that’s already a given when you’ve decided to dedicate the next few years of your life to go to college. What most people will tell you is the next most important thing, is to get involved in something outside of your studies (and I’m pretty sure weekly visits to Café Campus weren’t what they were intending). 

It’s why Kathryn Slomski, U1 Arts student, started volunteering for the Rabbit Hole Café. “I wanted to do something community-service oriented that wasn’t too far from campus,” she said when explaining how she found The Rabbit Hole Café. “I go there every Friday at around 9:30 in the morning to help prep the food, serve lunch, and then clean up afterward.” 

The Rabbit Hole Café is a low-cost vegan café for the people of the Milton Park community, more commonly known to McGill students as The Ghetto. Every Friday of the school year from 12:30-2: 30 pm the Rabbit Hole serves a low-cost, vegan lunch to all members of the community, regardless of whether they go to McGill or not. The lunch typically includes some type of soup and a dessert for $3 with the addition of coffee for $0.50 and an energy snack for $1.50. “I think it’s great because it combines a place for broke college students to get food for cheap with an opportunity for community members, particularly the elderly, to meet new people,” Kathryn explained that seating at the café is limited, so it’s very common for people to end up sitting with someone they’ve never met before. “Students focus primarily on the cheap aspect of it, but for people who live alone and don’t have a whole lot of social engagement, this can brighten up their whole week.” 

As a first-year student coming from the United States, Kathryn understands the feeling of not knowing anyone in a big city and how overwhelming it can be. “The Yellow Door is all about empowering both older and younger people to engage in the community. It’s important to make sure community members don’t feel isolated in such a big city.” She explained that the Yellow Door has a variety of different programs including an open mic coffee house every Friday night and a multitude of workshops focused on things like art, knitting, yoga, meditation, music, woodcarving, film, reading, and garden projects. “The Rabbit Hole Café is only open during the school year, but the rest of the activities that Yellow Door organizes happen year-round.” 

The opportunity for others to get involved at Yellow Door is always available. “We’re always looking for more volunteers, especially in the elderly outreach program where volunteers get paired with an elderly community member and help them do errands or just sit and talk with them for a while,” Kathryn explained that because a lot of the volunteers are students, there’s a lot of movement as they come and go, and always room for more. “It’s an easy way to get involved with something not directly involved in McGill that still impacts the community in a way most people forget about. Sometimes it’s as simple as having someone to talk to over lunch that makes the biggest difference in someone’s life.” 

For anyone interested in getting involved with The Yellow Door organization or the Rabbit Hole Café, all you have to do is send the director an email. For contact information and more about the program opportunities available, visit http://www.yellowdoor.org/. 

 

Images obtained from: 

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