She maybe turning 90 next month but Stasia Dabrowski still works six days a week, from about 5am until 6pm. In fact, she has been serving soup to Canberra’s neediest, for 37 years.
Known as the ‘soup kitchen lady’, Stasia is showing no signs of slowing down and is more active than most people half her age. Stasia starts her day by collecting donated food from bakeries and supermarkets around Canberra in her van before distributing it to the needy.
On Fridays, she runs a mobile soup kitchen in the CBD, which she has been doing since 1979. Steve Nebauer, her advocate, told ABC News, “On a Thursday she gets up at five o’clock in the morning, drives to the methadone clinic, drops off a load of products.”
“She comes home at 11 o’clock and starts peeling 180 kilograms worth of vegetables, which takes her the rest of the afternoon.
“She then gets up at two o’clock on Friday morning and puts the pots on and starts cooking the soup.
“She cooks two giant pots of soup which she then hands out.”
Stasia started the soup kitchen to help cook for a homeless family and for 11 years, she raised the funds herself. Now, she gets donations and some funding from the government.
In 1996, she was named the Canberra Citizen of the Year, and in 1999 Stasia became the inaugural ACT Senior Australian of the Year.
But recognition is not what she is after. She has always loved helping people. She was a nurse before moving to Australia with her husband and young family in 1926 and when she came to Canberra in 1964, she did voluntary work for the Red Cross. “It’s a pleasure, because you see I know somebody is depending on me,” said Stasia.