Because of you, thousands of lives have changed this year.
At Union Gospel Mission (UGM), we are determined to offer restoration to those in need. In a world broken by poverty and addiction, we come alongside men, women and children to provide a hand up, so that they can re-build their lives.
You’ve made UGM’s 75th year something to celebrate. Last year our team grew stronger, our programs expanded and you, our loyal supporters, grew even more dedicated to this life-changing cause. Together, we provided people with even more transformative support than ever before.
Last year, you helped us serve over 850 meals every day. Amazing! That first meal is always the start of a meaningful connection. During a conversation with an Outreach Worker, people receive counsel and learn which of UGM’s programs might best meet their needs. So by providing hundreds of meals each day, you’re also helping hundreds of people re-build their lives.
Your compassion shows. We invite you to read this year’s annual report and to rejoice in all the change you’ve made possible.
Thank you for caring for vulnerable Metro Vancouverites. We are exceedingly grateful that you do.
|William B. Mollard
|Teresa Black Hughes
Your Impact in Action
Through UGM’s continuum of care, guests receive holistic support at every stage of their journey towards new life. In this report, you can see the care you provided last year, step by step, from first handshake to final home.
Often, the Mobile Mission is someone’s first connection with our continuum of care. A fully outfitted rescue vehicle, UGM’s Mobile Mission travels through alleyways, along beaches, under bridges, and deep into parks to connect with people living in extreme forms of homelessness.
“That first winter living in my car, I was so hungry. It was lonely. UGM’s Mobile Mission was going through the park handing out sandwiches. They told me about UGM, and when I went there, it was incredible. It was so amazing to find that community. People are respected there. Today I have a home, and have lived in it for four winters. Honestly, UGM has been a sanctuary to me.” – Doug
Connections established through mobile mission
Mobile mission guests entered recovery, emergency shelter, or affordable housing at UGM
When a guest walks into UGM, their first point of contact is usually an experienced, compassionate Outreach Worker. Our Outreach team strives to cultivate an inclusive community, where each person feels loved and known just the way they are. Through care and conversation, we get to know our guests. This helps us tailor individual referrals, so that everyone receives the support they deserve. UGM offers a myriad of Outreach services—daily meals, clothing and street supplies, emergency hampers, chaplaincy, community workshops, meetings with a Case Manager, and more—each of which is designed to help people move forward, one step at a time.
“I had given up on life. But when I walked through UGM’s doors, the people were so encouraging. I felt like a dead plant coming back to life.” – Jemal
Hot, nutritious meals
Outreach referrals to UGM programs & other resources
It Starts With a Meal: Kelly’s Story
Kelly and his nine-year-old daughter came to UGM last summer with neither shelter nor food. “I moved to Vancouver to change my life around,” Kelly explains. “I’d lost my job up north, lost my housing, lost my car. Everything was just falling apart.”
“I didn’t know what to do so we walked around for hours. I felt totally lost. We just walked, looking for help,” he recalls. “My daughter was tired and hungry.” That’s when Kelly happened upon Cornerstone, the hub of UGM’s Outreach in Vancouver. “I came across it by luck, really. So we went inside and had lunch.” Kelly spoke with UGM’s Outreach Workers. Upon explaining his situation as a single father looking for housing, they connected him to our Women & Families Centre, just around the corner.
“It’s a great feeling to have people there to help. It’s basically like family.”
Compassionate members of our Families Team joined Kelly as he settled in his new city. “They did what they could to find us the housing we needed,” he recalls. Eventually, Kelly and his daughter found permanent housing, and with it, a sense of home. “It’s a great feeling to have people there to help,” he shares. “They do everything they can to help us out. It’s basically like family.”
Today, Kelly’s daughter is a member of UGM’s Eastsiders homework club, which helps children in local elementary schools grow, thrive, and have fun. Kelly is a remarkably loving father. He is currently taking an office administration program at a nearby college, and we see him and his daughter regularly at UGM’s family dinners. Most importantly, this family is together, hopeful and happy.
Emergency Shelter & Case Management
Vancouver’s cold, wet weather can be dangerous—even fatal—to people living on the streets. That’s why UGM’s 72-bed shelter is open year-round to provide men with a safe and warm place to sleep.
Case Managers are available to meet with men in Emergency Shelter every day. This is a critical component of our shelter system. It provides compassionate one-on-one care, which helps people achieve critical goals such as housing, employment, detox, health services, and more. If a guest shows motivation in reaching his targets, Case Managers are able to extend his stay in our shelter, so that he can focus on moving forward without the barrier of sleeping outdoors.
“I’d never thought about staying in a shelter. But after seeing UGM’s, well, it was just different. Clean. I guess I just felt safe.” – Wayne, A&D Recovery Alumnus
Men found a safe place in our emergency shelter last year
People found housing, employment or recovery through case management
Men’s Recovery: Mike’s Story
When Mike first came to Vancouver, he found home in a newspaper bin behind Kingsgate Mall.
“I’ll never forget my first meal at UGM,” he shares. “The cooks went out of their way to make it fantastic, because they had a huge heart for people.”
Mike kept coming to UGM for meals. He made ends meet with part-time work, but an addiction held him back. One day, while eating lunch at UGM, someone stole his bike, “my only means of transportation,” he adds. Frustrated and resigned, Mike yelled to an Alcohol & Drug Recovery resident, “Is there any room for me in there?” Two days later, he was in the program. “All my life I’d swallowed this message of, ‘Don’t be so weak you can’t get up and start over.’ But this was the one time I said, ‘I can’t do it. I need this place to help me because I’m not able to do this on my own.’”
“It’s like a long-lost family of people that support you, a network designed to help you realize your potential.”
Mike credits the recovery community as that which helped him overcome his addiction: “It’s like a long lost family of people that support you, a network designed to help you realize your potential.” His faith played a significant role too. “When I was homeless, I would say to myself, ‘I could really use a raincoat,’ and I’d find one in the next dumpster. So, I met God in the alleyway. But I met Jesus Christ at UGM.”
After recovery, Mike continued to live in UGM’s Affordable Housing. Today, he works as a cook at UGM. “If you can serve a meal with compassion, you can impact people,” he says. “And that can be the first step on a bridge to life-long change.”
Aftercare & Career Development
For many A&D Recovery alumni, the first two years can be the most difficult, resulting in relapse and, consequently, a depleting sense of self. That’s why UGM offers an 18-month Second-Stage Recovery phase. Throughout this phase, individuals continue to live at UGM, receive ongoing counselling and support, and gradually reintegrate into a more independent life. Many continue to live in Affordable Housing for years to come.
During this time, men can participate in educational workshops, attend life or financial management seminars, and work one-on-one with UGM’s Career Development Counsellor. UGM’s Career Development services help alumni build on their already healthy momentum, strengthen their resume, focus their employment goals, and discover the wonder of their gifts.
Men and women completed recovery at UGM in 2015
Of recent A&D alumni achieved one year of sobriety by June 2015
Sometimes hope begins with a place to call home.
In partnership with BC Housing, UGM is committed to providing safe, clean, affordable housing to those who need it most. With a total of 192 units throughout Metro Vancouver, we offer a variety of options, from abstinence-based independent living suites to low-rent units for family-oriented living.
Many women from The Sanctuary and men and women from A&D Recovery programs end up finding a home in one of UGM’s Affordable Housing units. Each building provides a wide variety of programs—such as budgeting classes, movie nights, or holiday meals—to create a strong sense of community and support.
Safe, abstinence-based units for individuals in Vancouver’s DTES
Low-rent housing units designed for family living in Surrey
Women’s Recovery: Gina’s Story
Gina’s daughters means the world to her. “I wanted to be the mom I never had for them,” she explains. “But I couldn’t attain that.”
“I was an addict from an early age. Ever since my own mom left, I felt there was something wrong with me. But I liked how I felt when I drank and drugged.”
“I told my counsellor I was using drugs and alcohol while my girls were asleep or at school,” she says. “When social services showed up, I couldn’t lie. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.” They gave Gina two choices: place her children in care of a family member or lose them entirely. “I felt like someone had ripped out my insides.” Luckily, Gina’s brother was able to take her daughters so she could pursue recovery at Lydia Home.
“When I got here I didn’t think I was anyone or anything but God opened a door and showed me how to live.”
During her recovery, Gina worked hard to re-build. “My biggest motivation was my kids,” she explains. “Here at Lydia Home I learned that God is loving and forgiving—that no matter what, he is with me.”
Today, Gina is a successful health and wellness coach and the mother of two beautiful young adults. “I mentor women in and out of recovery who struggle with nutrition. That is my passion, teaching others how to live healthy lives.”
“My life is joyful today,” she shares. “One of the biggest things about recovery is that we are taught how to have a life. What I got here surpassed anything I could ever imagine. When I got here I didn’t think I was anyone or anything but God opened a door and showed me how to live.”
Women & Families Centre
Did you know that approximately half the families who call Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) home struggle with extreme poverty, child development, and high school graduation? At Women & Families Centre, we address these issues head on by providing caring, preventative support. Parents are equipped with all-encompassing relationship and support. Kids are welcomed into Eastsiders, our afterschool care program, at an early age. Teens are invited to participate in Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Mentorship, and L.E.A.D. (Youth Leadership Development). All of these programs are specially designed for youth in our community.
For the single woman in Vancouver’s DTES, many of whom are caught in cycles of addiction and trauma, we provide Outreach services, chaplaincy, emergency assistance, and The Sanctuary: a 24/7 stabilization program that helps single women and new moms transition into recovery.
“We were bouncing around shelters for nine months. All these months wondering how I would get anything for my baby and it arrived at UGM. I kept coming back to UGM for lunch and chapel, because it felt like home. It felt like family.” – Melissa
Campers sponsored for a week of summer camp
Bundles of emergency baby supplies distributed by UGM
Women successfully transitioned from the sanctuary to their recovery goal
Of moms in the sanctuary were successful in retaining custody of their child
The Sanctuary: Emily’s Story
Emily was thrust into adulthood too soon. “At the age of twelve my mom dumped me on the side of the highway and said, ‘I’m done with this.’ I’ve been on my own ever since. I started using drugs and drinking when I was fourteen.”
Years later, Emily met her husband. “He wasn’t abusive at first,” she recalls. “I didn’t have family but I had him. But when he started beating me really bad, I had nowhere to turn.” Simultaneously, her struggle with drugs spiraled into a heroin addiction.
“I came to Vancouver to get clean,” Emily says. “When I first got to The Sanctuary, I was blown away.” About a month into her stay, Emily went to visit her husband and got pregnant. “There was no way I would let my child grow up with an abusive dad,” she says. “I’m on my own now, but I broke that cycle of abuse.” Emily stayed sober for the duration of her pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy boy named Christian.
“When I was a kid, I never thought I’d live past 30. Instead, that’s the age I overcame my addiction. It’s the age I found new life.”
“The staff here have been with me through it all,” she says. “They’ve seen me grow. They’ve seen me go through treatment. They’ve seen me raise my baby.”
“Before Christian, I never loved anyone because I’d never been loved myself. The best thing about being Christian’s mom is that he has finally shown me what real love is.”
Emily’s next step is to get housing outside of this neighbourhood. “I’m excited for this new chapter. I’m excited to see what God’s going to bring me, bring us.”
Donations & Income
- 77.9% Annual Campaign
- 3.5% Legacy Campaign
- 15.0% Social Housing
- 3.6% Thrift Store & Other Income
Expenses & Designated Funds
Programs, Services & Social Housing
- 45.6% Outreach & Recovery
- 14.3% Housing
- 9.3% Education & Engagement
- 5.4% Other
Our Vision for Tomorrow
After 75 years of helping our most vulnerable neighbours, UGM is determined to expand its reach so that every man, woman and child receives this good news: that new life is possible, that cycles of poverty and addiction can be broken.
We won’t rest until every woman has a safe place to get her life back.
We’ve walked with street-entrenched women in The Sanctuary for over a year. We’ve seen their resilience as they fight against all odds to stabilize, overcome trauma, and transition into recovery. And in doing so, we have identified a void of recovery options.
There are currently zero residential recovery beds for women in the Downtown Eastside and the average wait for a recovery bed in the lower mainland is up to six weeks.
We’ve seen the results of this deficiency firsthand: a struggling woman, defeated by exhausting waitlists. We’ve walked with her as she fiercely fights for healing, overwhelmed by barriers. The reality is devastating. There just aren’t enough feasible, long-term options to help her beat addiction once and for all.
If a woman has to wait this long to get into recovery, she is 80% more likely to return to her addiction. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In order to help every woman, we need to expand UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery programs, opening our doors even wider so that more women can taste freedom. Over the next five years, UGM will be hard at work to create a purpose-built recovery facility for women. Not only will this expansion provide more recovery beds for women in need, it will also provide essential space and services for the children she’s raising. This way, a struggling mom doesn’t have to choose between her child and her life.