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President’s Message

These were the circumstances that Jesus was born into: humble beginnings, a wandering and fleeing family, a barn. It can be so easy to forget the simplicity of His origin amidst the hustle and bustle of today’s Christmas celebration. It can be so easy to overlook the margins into which he arrived. This season, I encourage you to pause. Ask yourself: what does the Christmas story tell me about who God is and what He values? For me, it’s a reminder that God’s heart is with our guests—many who struggle with overwhelming poverty, many who live on the margins of our society.

This Christmas season, thousands of men, women, and children will come to Union Gospel Mission for food or shelter. With your help, we’ll be able to provide them with so much more.

As Wayne’s story illustrates, many of our guests come for a meal, not expecting to connect with UGM’s people or programs. After a conversation with an Emergency Shelter worker, Wayne decided that he wanted to try recovery for the first time in over 30 years of addiction. After just a few days in UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery program, he started to re-build his life. Today, Wayne is thriving. But it all started with a meal.

The meals you provide don’t just feed people. They feed hope. Whether it’s a holiday celebration like our upcoming Christmas meal, or a nutritious dinner served in our dining hall every day, a meal can introduce people, like Wayne, to life-changing opportunities. By giving $3.29 towards a meal this Christmas, you could help someone take the first steps they need to take towards a life of healing and wholeness—towards a life restored.

On behalf of all staff and guests at Union Gospel Mission, thank you for your compassion. We are grateful for the difference your support will make this winter.
Blessings,

William B. Mollard

A Place to Belong: Wayne’s Story

A Place to Belong: Wayne’s Story

“Your support gives men back their lives, but also, it gives them back to their families.”

Wayne’s family moved a lot when he was younger. Sometimes they lived in garages, extension cords supplying heat from other people’s homes. “For most of my life, my relationship with my family wasn’t good,” he continues. “I never felt comfortable; I didn’t feel known. My sister was involved with a gang—so alcohol and drugs were always there. I started drinking when I was 8,” he pauses. “And I didn’t stop for 50 years.”

It was a coping addiction,” he says matter-of-factly. “I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. Didn’t feel right.” Though Wayne was able to mask his high functioning addiction and find work in the automotive industry, he struggled with the cyclical tension of capability, addiction, and insecurity. “I always did well at these jobs,” he explains. “But when people would try to promote me, I’d just quit. You see, I didn’t want anyone to know I couldn’t read.” This cycle continued throughout his adult life: fear of people discovering his illiteracy, isolation, and an ever-increasing dependence on alcohol.

Wayne eventually settled in New Westminster. He had housing but felt like he was losing control. “I got to the point where I couldn’t deal with anything,” he explains. Within a three-week span, Wayne’s mom and brother died. Wayne was living alone. Despite a troubled relationship with his family, grief shook him to his core. He ended up living on the streets, building his cardboard home under an overpass. “I checked out—wanted to get away from everyone and everything. Day by day, it was the same: wake up, hunt for bottles, buy booze, drink all day. It was unmanageable. It was sick.” 

One day on the street, Wayne befriended a man named Jo. “Jo brought me to dinner at UGM down on East Hastings. I ate a meal and got talking with some Outreach Workers. As we were about to leave, I just turned around.” Though Wayne had never felt compelled to leave his street home before, he felt a pull to stay in UGM’s Emergency Shelter that night. “It wasn’t just the food,” he remembers. “It was starting to talk to the staff, and seeing the place. I felt safe here.”

“Thirty years ago, I knew I had a problem. And I knew I needed help but I just didn’t know when or how. At UGM, I guess I knew I had a chance to try.”

Thirty years ago, I knew I had a problem,” Wayne explains. “And I knew I needed help but didn’t know when or how. At UGM, I guess I knew I had a chance to try.” In the morning, Wayne spoke to the staff about UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery program. “After learning more I thought, OK, I can do this,” he reflects. “And I haven’t left since.”

I had some fears about recovery,” Wayne admits. “I couldn’t spell and felt kind of stupid. I don’t like making a fool out of myself so I didn’t want to speak up. I was worried. Until I met Jack, my counsellor. Right after that, I felt comfortable.”

As the alcohol left his system and he began eating proper meals, Wayne started to think a lot more clearly about everything. “I began to teach myself to read,” he explains. “I started with novels, and then the Bible. Reading the Bible all the time, on my own and with others, I learned how to read a bit again.”

Wayne finished recovery on May 19, 2013. Today, a sense of purpose is sprinkled throughout his everyday. He co-runs a life group for UGM’s residents and alumni and works as a UGM kitchen employee. “My life is really, really good,” he shares.

Wayne calmly unpacks his new outlook—one that’s rooted in a restored sense of joy and appreciation. “I learned that I can look in the mirror and actually like myself,” he says. “And by liking myself, I’m able to open myself up to others.” Realizing the importance of relationships, Wayne reconnected with his brother. “My brother tells me, ‘I’ve got my brother back. I lost him well over 30 years ago. But I’ve got him back now.’ A lot of that was because of me coming here,” Wayne explains. “There’s a lot of damage we do to our families and friends. When you support UGM, you save lives. But it doesn’t just affect that one life. Your support gives people back their lives, but also, it gives them back to their families.” 

Year End Giving

Year End Giving

Give a little, and get a little back in return

What you give means so much. Your support ensures that individuals and families can access Union Gospel Mission’s life-changing services, regain their dignity and rebuild their lives. And while we know you don’t give to get anything in return, it’s nice to know you can get a little back.

The Canadian income tax system encourages gifts to charitable organizations by granting tax credits. In BC, if you have donated more than $200 to any charity this year, any donation you give after that means a 43% tax return! This means your gift of $100 will feed 30 people in need, and will only cost you $57. Total annual donations of under $200 will give you approximately 20% back.

To make it easier to figure out what your charitable tax deduction will be, we’ve created an easy tax calculator.  Making a large impact costs less than you might think!

Tax Calculator

That will help feed 15 people in need.

Your tax credit

$21.85