On May 30 and 31, Burns Lake local restaurant, Dragon Palace, opened its doors and raised a huge amount for the Immaculata Parish.
”The family opened the Dragon Palace restaurant for a weekend and they took take out orders. Then on Monday, they came up to the church and presented Father Dominic Apaatah with this very large cheque of over nine thousand dollars; it was completely out of the blue,” said the Immaculata Parish secretary Paula Van Tine. She also mentioned that the generosity of the family came at a very crucial time as the parish has been suffering due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“My dad just wants to do something to give back to the community — all the businesses, all the non profits are suffering. We are just doing a little something to help as much as we can through this phase of uncertainty,” said Hoang Nguyen, son of the owner Khai Ngyuen when asked about the reason behind their decision to hold another fundraiser. Earlier last month, the family had opened up the restaurant in honor of Mother’s Day and gave all the proceeds from the sales, a total of $9212, to the local food bank. The event was a huge hit among people and they even had to turn away a few people due to how busy it got.
This fundraiser was no different as it drew big crowds as well and raised more money than on Mother’s Day. “It was completely unexpected. We had expected a lot more crowd on Mothers’ Day as it was a big event but this one we expected it to be smaller. It didn’t turn out to be that way,” said the son, adding that they had to turn people away because of how swamped they were. “We sincerely apologize to those people.”
The Nyguyen family moved to Burns Lake in 1987, from Vietnam, via Indonesia and took over the restaurant to turn it into a family business, in 1997. They have been actively involved within the community and the Immaculata Parish over the years. “Every time they travel to Vietnam, they order new vests for fathers. We have had many different priests over the years and they all have been given these beautiful silk vests from Vietnam, by the Nyguyen family,” said Van Tine adding that the family also maintains all the flowers in the church, put out fresh flowers, water them and maintain them. “They are just a lovely group, it is so good to see them on Sundays.”
The parish will be free to use the donated amount for anything they want. “They were incredibly generous as well, because they are letting us use our discretion about how the money should be used. It gives us the flexibility to meet the needs of the parish,” informed Van Tine. She also mentioned that the donation would prove beneficial in a special project that the parish has been working on — to erect a bell tower and have the bell from the original church on Main Street be put up in the Third Avenue church. The bell had been ringing in the village since 1922 but it was not restored to its proper function in the new church. It currently has been sitting in the church foyer.
“It’s a silent reminder sitting there, saying something has to be done about it,” said Noel Dicker, the chairman of the committee in charge of the bell restoration project. Dicker also mentioned that the church had received a $5000 grant through The Madge Hogarth Foundation for the project. He informed that although the final cost of the project was not yet known, the donation from the Ngyuen family would definitely prove to be helpful in the project as well if the church decides to use some of it towards the project.
The Dragon Palace restaurant will remain closed for the rest of June. The family however plans to open the restaurant in July, sometime after Canada Day. “We go back to our normal business in early July with maybe just a slow start with service from Monday to Friday and then we will see where we are, and maybe open on the weekends,” said Hoang Nguyen.
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