Cranmer Friday Night Dinners

“Friday Night Dinners” began in 1999 with a Thanksgiving Dinner at the then St. Columba’s Episcopal Chapel in Winter Park.  The idea of providing home cooked meals to young people working in the valley away from their homes and families came, in part, from Joan Von der Heiden and her husband Ken.  Permission was obtained from St. John’s Episcopal Church to use the Winter Park St. Columba Chapel – which has since been renamed the Cranmer Memorial Chapel after the residing Rev. Chappell Cranmer passed away in 2000.

The initial dinner was a huge success and everyone involved started focusing on providing dinners on a more frequent basis.  Joan approached Winter Park Resort and Gary DeFrange outlining a plan to provide dinners every Friday night, opposite payday of the resort.  The Resort and Gary were more than supportive, with the Resort taking on one of the dinners, providing the meal & servers for that evening.  Next Joan met with the East Grand Clergy seeing their support, and then on to the Fraser Valley Lion’s Club to see if they would also support the effort.  The Grand County Jewish Community graciously offered to take on the Friday Dinner closest to Christmas.

At this time various organizations in the valley cover the Friday Nights throughout the Winter beginning with Thanksgiving and going through the first part of April.  Each Friday night is hosted by a specific organization providing the “sides, desserts and servers.”  The main course is prepared by Jim Magill and Gary Piper.  Any main course leftovers from a previous dinner are added alongside fruit and rolls and placed in a “Take Out” box for lunch the next day.  

Funding for the Friday Night Dinners comes mostly from participating Churches.  As of April 2014 over 22,000 meals have been served.

Participating organizations are listed below:

Winter Park Resort

Fraser Valley Lion’s Club

Grand County Advocates

Church of the Eternal Hills

Grand County Jewish Community

YMCA of the Rockies

Mountain Family Center

Lord of the Valley Lutheran Church

Our Lady of the Snow R.C. Church