Here No Matter What
Since Union Gospel Mission was founded in 1940, we’ve faced many crises, like the aftermath of the Great Depression, the legacy of Expo ‘86, the closure of Riverview Hospital—and the global pandemic, racial injustices, and economic challenges of 2020.
Through the storms, the compassion of donors like you has never failed, and UGM has endured to help people persevere toward renewed life.
Because of you, UGM is still here 80 years later, feeding hope and changing lives.
Explore how you’ve enabled UGM to step up in the face of crises by clicking on the photos below.
President & Board Chair’s Message
Throughout Union Gospel Mission’s 80-year history, God's grace has allowed us to endure and grow through crises, and we have been here to help those who are struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction, no matter what.
But even more inspiring is the incredible life change and perseverance we see in guests—and we’re filled with gratitude, knowing it’s only possible because of compassionate donors like you. By reaching out to UGM, you provided life-saving take-out meals, food hampers, safe shelter, and socially-distanced Mobile Mission and home visits. You fueled UGM’s life-changing continuum of care, meaning so many people started addiction recovery, schooling, new jobs, and secured safe housing.
Moving forward, so much still needs to be done to rebuild lives. However, UGM has immense hope because we feel God calling us to continue extending our continuum of care across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. This vision is already starting to come to life; this Fall, we’re opening the doors to UGM’s new Women & Families Centre in the Downtown Eastside. Here, struggling women, mothers, and children will call UGM home until they completely re-establish themselves.
Every day, UGM sees people overcoming poverty, homelessness, and addiction with great resiliency. However, they aren’t the only ones who have grown this year. The ongoing crises have forced us all to dig a little deeper to find hope, strength, and a renewed sense of togetherness. We hope that our guests’ fortitude inspires you, just as your support and enduring courage through this challenging season inspires us.
Because of you, UGM can continue uplifting men, women, and families, no matter what. With a humble heart, we thank you for the past 80 years of transforming communities—we can’t wait to see what we’ll do next, together.
William B. MollardPresident
William B. MollardPresident
Dan RussellDirector of Programs
Grace Lynn ReeveDirector of People and Culture
Mary LumDirector of Finance
Ryan KochDirector of Resource Development
Derek WeissDirector of Community Engagement and Social Enterprise
Rob ThompsonDirector of Housing and Support Services
Stanley MartinVice Chairperson
Teresa Black Hughes
Union Gospel Mission acknowledges with humble gratitude that our sites are located on the traditional unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Kwantlen, Qayqayt and the Sto:lo First Nations
fiscal year in review
Donations & Other Revenues $29,541,032
Annual Campaign 79%
Legacy Campaign 9%
donations 88% $25,855,522
Social Housing 8%
Store Sales, Investments &
Store Sales, Investments & Others 4%
Other Revenues 12% $3,685,510
Expenses & Designated Funds $23,970,176
Outreach & Recovery 51%
Education & Engagement 11%
Programs, Services & Social Housing 77% $18,492,730
All statistics and outcomes in this annual report are from Union Gospel Mission's Key Performance Indicators reports for the July 2019 – June 2020 fiscal year. Audited financial statements can be seen at UGM.ca/history
ugm is here no matter what
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Photo: Frank Gowen, City of Vancouver Archives
The Aftermath of The Great Depression
In a time marked by job insecurity, economic turmoil, and the rise of alcohol addiction, Union Gospel Mission was born to provide people in Vancouver hope and compassion.
Every day, our first location at 10 Powell Street served 60 hot, hearty meals, provided six safe shelter beds off the streets, and offered a loving chapel service to those in need.
UGM’s humble beginnings were made possible by the fervour and faith of founder Bob Stacey, and the incredible fundraising and volunteer efforts of local churches and the community.
In other words, deeply caring people like you were heartbroken by the crises around them—and determined to help bring forth transformation.
Photo: Ernie H. Reksten, City of Vancouver Archives
The legacy of expo ‘86
To make room for the influx of Expo 86 tourists, over 1,000 residents in single room occupancy hotels were immediately evicted from their long-term homes, and left scrambling to lower-quality hotels, shelters, or the streets.
This only foreshadowed how vulnerable low-income people would become in Vancouver. After the World Fair, the city underwent rapid development and gentrification projects that swept hundreds of affordable housing units off the map.
That marked the rise of poverty and homelessness in Vancouver—and, UGM’s significant increase in Outreach services. With more and more people pushed into states of crisis, we opened our doors and went out inviting men, women, and families into our place of refuge and hope.
Because of the outpouring of love from kind-hearted people like you, UGM has been able to continue growing to meet the ever-increasing needs. Now, we offer Outreach in communities like the Downtown Eastside, Surrey, New Westminster, Mission, and across the Fraser Valley.
Photo: City of Coquitlam Archives
The closure of riverview hospital
When mental health facility Riverview Hospital announced its closure, UGM knew countless people would end up displaced, and struggling with mental health and addiction in the Downtown Eastside.
The community’s needs were changing—and UGM felt it was our duty to help fill the gaps. Anticipating that future guests would need proper mental health support, we set out to professionalize our Alcohol & Drug Recovery programs.
UGM started working with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to shape our programming, and brought registered mental health and addictions counsellors onto our team to complement our ongoing spiritual counselling.
Since then, we’ve committed to staying aligned with the CMHA’s best, proven practices. Today, that means each man and woman who come to UGM through the worsening opioid overdose crisis doesn’t just experience life-giving compassion; they have the best chance of finally breaking free from addiction.
A community member receives a warm take-out meal from a caring Outreach Worker
The covid-19 pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the message from B.C.’s leadership was clear: stay home, stay safe. But for those struggling with poverty, homelessness, or addiction, the measures meant to safeguard only deepened their crises.
The restrictions brought crippling economic and mental health hardships into communities already struggling with the unaffordable cost of living, and increasingly fatal opioid overdose crisis. And the scaling down of community services pushed all kinds of men, women, and families into states of emergency—and toward poverty.
But because you supported UGM this year, we had the resources to immediately step in and fill the gaps.
Through the pandemic, you’ve helped serve meals in take-out containers, provided more family food hampers, and kept our Emergency Shelter, Case Management, and Alcohol & Drug Recovery programs going—so people still have access to life-saving care and connection.
Ayîkipîsim comes from Frog Lake First Nation, Northern Alberta. She is a thriving First Nations Cree Artist, Sixties Scoop Survivor, and UGM Housing resident
unearthing racial injustice
It’s always been UGM’s heart to love and serve all people without discrimination. But the overwhelming pain that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) are experiencing due to systemic racism has called us to step back, and evaluate how we can actively do better.
As a result of traumatic racial injustices like colonization and the residential school system, Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in B.C.’s economic disparities, homelessness counts, and overdose deaths. Thankfully, your love is helping bring healing at UGM—one life at a time—and our next step in this is giving our BIPOC community a platform to share their voices.
But change also has to start from within. Internally, UGM’s Senior Leadership Team is intentionally reflecting on staff feedback. A newly-formed Anti-Racism Committee is providing education and anti-racist policy recommendations. And the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada course is now a core training for all UGM staff.
These are just a few first steps of many in transforming UGM from an organization that does not condone racism, into one that is anti-racist. We are committing to this for as long as our organization stands—with a hope to make our communities feel more like God’s Kingdom every day, where the diversity and individuality of every person is truly heard, honoured, and loved.
Matt self-medicated through an addiction for years, but didn’t realize how lifeless he’d become until he found himself face-to-face with homelessness. Needing a place to sleep, Matt came to UGM’s Emergency Shelter. That’s when someone asked if he’d ever tried Alcohol & Drug Recovery.
When Matt was 25, he was in college and had a bright future ahead. But life took a sharp turn when he was walking one day and got hit by a car. “I was pretty mangled—head injury, fractured skull, brain aneurysm, and soft tissue damage. I lost everything,” he remembers. Matt quickly started self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, and over the next seven years, he spiralled into addiction. “I didn’t care. I was so numb inside, I didn’t feel loved,” he says quietly. “It was irrational how much I was using, but that impulsiveness was part of my head injury.”
Eventually, Matt found himself homeless. “It was just three days, but being homeless is very discomforting,” he shares. “I felt like I’d come to the end of myself.” But thankfully, an Outreach Volunteer referred Matt to UGM’s Emergency Shelter. And that led to an interaction with an Alcohol & Drug Recovery alumni which changed his life. “He sat down with me and asked, ‘Have you ever tried recovery?’ It took me three days to realize, ‘Yeah, I need help. I can’t stop.’”
UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery program gave Matt the space and resources to heal. Here, he discovered healthy coping mechanisms, and transformed his perspective on life. “Anything UGM had to offer: classes, hiking with Expeditions, First Aid courses, schooling—I jumped on board,” he explains. “The classes taught me life skills. Hiking showed me something outside of myself—God’s creation. And the community taught me how to live and love again.”
After coming to UGM, Matt sadly lost his twin brother and mother. He stayed strong and achieved over two years of sobriety, but eventually relapsed twice. “At first, I thought, ‘Why is this happening to me?’” he shares. Thankfully, Matt returned to his UGM family, and hasn’t stopped persevering since. “Now, I know the bigger picture. God put me here so I could handle the tribulations of life. I feel like I’ve grown leaps and bounds, and I’m finally feeling peace.”
Today, Matt is celebrating three years of consecutive sobriety, and his new Chemical Addictions Worker Diploma. He is journeying toward becoming a Trauma and Addictions Counsellor, and is also putting his heart to help in action at UGM. As a beloved member of our Maintenance Team, Matt is crucial in keeping our buildings sterile and safe for guests through the pandemic. “Many people we serve feel like the world is against them—but UGM is not. And that’s the thing: we’re a hand of hope. It’s saving lives—and that’s why I’m still here,” he says, smiling. “It saved mine.”
After losing two children to the foster care system, Courtney felt hopeless and fell deeper into addiction. But when she discovered she was pregnant again, she found herself at a crossroads: risk losing another child, or work toward transformation. That’s when Courtney stepped into UGM’s Sanctuary.
After growing up in a family plagued by addiction and living in abusive foster care homes, Courtney started drinking alcohol and smoking. She became a mother to two beautiful children in her 20’s, but by then, she was struggling with addiction. Eventually, she went to recovery in the hopes of gaining a continuing custody order, but instead, was misled into signing an open adoption. “I lost my kids,” she shares, angrily. “And after some time, I relapsed. I never gave up on trying to get them back, but it was so comforting to pick up a drink or go to crack, and to not feel anything.”
Courtney’s addiction intensified over the next decade as she coped with her heartache—until three years ago, when Courtney found out she was pregnant again. Faced with the reality of her addiction and conflicting desire to be present in this child’s life, she started recovery once again. But this time, she was referred to UGM’s Sanctuary, where care is provided for mothers and babies. “My sister had led me to Christ—so I knew God was in control and had a plan.”
While at UGM, Courtney relapsed and made the difficult decision of temporarily placing her newborn daughter into foster care. “That’s when I got on my knees and asked God to help me out of my addiction,” she remembers. Within two months, Courtney was back on track at The Sanctuary, and had her daughter. “She, and Jesus, kept me on the right path. God lit up the way back to The Sanctuary. God is in a lot of places, but he’s definitely here, working miracles.”
Though Courtney’s journey hasn’t been without its bumps, today, she is two years sober and life has never been better. Last September, she gave birth to another beautiful boy. And in May, she secured housing and started the Social Services Worker program at Vancouver Career College, supported by UGM’s Tuition Grant Scholarship. “I went into the program just accepting I’d have a $22,000 student loan, because I wanted to do something with my life, provide for my family, and help others struggling with addiction live in peace—so the scholarship was a relief.”
Courtney is so grateful for how UGM continues walking alongside her in her journey. “I believe UGM doesn’t give up on people,” she says, confidently. “Even though I’ve left The Sanctuary, they’re giving me supplies for my baby, and family food hampers during the COVID-19 pandemic.” And through the Repair to Wear sewing program, Courtney continues building a loving, faith-based support system who she knows will be there for her, no matter what. “The women are so open-hearted; being at UGM is like self-care for me. It’s my place of peace.”