Canberra’s ‘Soup Kitchen Lady’ to be Immortalized in Public Art

ACT, Australia

Description: Public artwork to honor Stasia Dabrowski, Canberra’s beloved ‘Soup Kitchen Lady’

Publication Date: 2024-06-22 00:00:00+10:00

Link: https://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/cheyne/2024/public-artwork-honouring-canberras-soup-kitchen-lady

The ACT Government has announced plans to honor the late Stasia Dabrowski, affectionately known as Canberra’s ‘Soup Kitchen Lady’, with a new sculpture in Garema Place. Dabrowski, who passed away in 2020, was a volunteer who ran a mobile soup kitchen feeding thousands of people from a corner of Garema Place every Friday night from 1982 until 2018.

The $300,000 artwork celebrating Dabrowski’s achievements will be created by an artist or artists who are women or gender diverse/non-binary. The sculpture is expected to be completed and installed in Garema Place in early 2026.

Minister Tara Cheyne acknowledged Dabrowski’s enormous contribution to many of Canberra’s most vulnerable people, noting that her own life was far from easy. “Her own early experiences without running water, wood or gas for heat or food in a Polish village before WWII, left her with a real desire to help others,” said Cheyne.

Dabrowski won numerous awards and accolades for her charity work, including 1996 Canberra Citizen of the Year, 1999 ACT Senior Australian of the Year, 2017 ACT Local Hero of the Year, and carrying the Olympic torch. However, she remained humble about the work she was doing.

“I never keep photos because I am not proud… the soup kitchen is a simple thing, people cooking veggies, nothing special,” she said at the time.

Dabrowski’s grandson, Josh Kenworthy, expressed his gratitude for the recognition of his grandmother’s work. “My Nan was a humble soul who shied away from publicity and just wanted to lend a hand. That’s how she was brought up – that you just help people. She was always giving and always asking if people needed anything,” said Kenworthy.

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