“There once was a girl named Maria” – like that lady of song, our Maria too, hails from Germany, born in 1933. She proudly says that she weighed in at 3 pounds. From the first, she showed that determination to survive that still marks her personality.

Fatherless, she was raised in a very small farming community by an uncle. At the age of 18, never having left that circle of houses even once, she headed for Munich. New to anything that resembled a town let alone a city, her first thoughts were for a safe place to sleep and food to eat. She toured the hotels and was hired as a ‘coffee girl’. That’s where she met Albert, the love of her life. Albert saw her sitting, waiting for her next call, and entranced, he walked over and asked if he could share her bench.

“It’s not MY bench,” she said and made room for him – both on her bench and in her life.

Albert’s sister lived in Victoria and she wrote to them about Canada. In 1958, they moved here and have called Victoria – home ever since.

After her husband passed, Maria continued her life of independence. To this day, she cuts her own grass and prepares logs for her small stove. She asks for no assistance, but life gets lonely with no one to talk to. A friend eventually introduced her to the Rainbow Kitchen and Maria has come here ever since. She says, “Here, all are nice. Not one person is mean,” and she stays at the Kitchen because [she] “likes the food.” Since her stroke, she can no longer cook for herself and with her growing confusion, she needs the confidence of coming to a “nice place with nice people” before venturing out of her house. Kevin, a longtime friend, brings her regularly. 

Last month, Maria celebrated being 86 years young with her Victoria ‘family‘! At the Kitchen, “all have hearts made of flesh and blood and all belong to the earth.” The Rainbow Kitchen is where a person is equally respected by all.