President’s Message

President’s Message

“O Israel, hope in the LORD;  for with the LORD there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.” – Psalm 130:7

Each year as spring unfolds, I am reminded of redemption and renewal, and our call to play our own role of renewal in our own communities.

That’s something you’ll find at the core of Dave’s story. Dave would tell you that he has spent much of his life resisting any type of community, but unexpectedly found out he had an integral part to play in this community. He is now a cherished member of our family. Dave’s experiences have taught him first hand what a renewed life is, and he continues to use this to guide many men through the hard work of recovery.

Like Dave’s story affirms – our body has many parts. One part of UGM’s body is our skilled Outreach team, who encourage transformation in guests’ lives each day. Another part of our body is our hard working volunteers who will soon serve meals of Easter: a meal of hope to those struggling in Metro Vancouver. Finally, I want to thank you for being a part of our body by providing consistent and invaluable support for the work we do.

When bound together, we can all work towards one common goal of transforming communities by overcoming poverty, homelessness and addiction—one life at a time.

God Bless,

William B. Mollard

Dave’s Story

Dave’s Story

Five Years Later, a Home

Five years ago, Dave came to UGM for a cup of coffee. “I was on my way to the liquor store but it wasn’t open yet, so I stopped by UGM.” Sitting in the Cornerstone, UGM’s Outreach hub in the Downtown Eastside, Dave was shaking so hard that he spilled his coffee everywhere. “I’d been really sick,” he explains, “so I hadn’t had a drink in days.” Dave’s body was detoxing from years of heavy drinking, which had increased following the devastation of losing his wife of 25 years to cancer.

An Outreach worker spotted Dave shaking, and told him about UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery program. Certain his application would take weeks to be processed, he applied, but to his surprise was offered a spot in the program immediately.

The months that followed were a slow climb. An addiction as serious as Dave’s wreaks havoc on one’s cognitive abilities, and after years of drinking heavily, detoxing can be a painful process. “I was eating with my hands because I couldn’t navigate a fork from plate to mouth,” Dave explains. “Around the second or third month of recovery, my brain started to clear up. I figured, well, I stayed this long so I might as well give this place a real shot now.”

Navigating recovery was one thing, but after years of resisting making connections with others, community was another challenge. “When you walk in here, you can feel the love. I hated that feeling, when I walked in here,” Dave says. “It didn’t make any difference who you were, or how messed up you were, or how smelly you were…it didn’t matter! People were going to love on you.”

As time passed, Dave began to feel at ease at UGM, crediting his counsellor and sponsor’s belief in him as being instrumental to his success. “Eventually I started believing in myself,” Dave says. “I started to believe that maybe God wasn’t this horrendous person I thought he might’ve been.”

While preparing to complete the six-month A&D Program in 2011, Dave began making plans to resume working. However, just as he graduated, Dave was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The doctors gave him six months to live. Shortly after he suffered a stroke, paralyzing one side of his body, and leaving him unable to walk.

Today, Dave is five years sober. As well as a safe place to call home, and friends that are like family, Dave also feels as if UGM’s given him new life. “This sounds really cliché,” he says as a disclaimer, “but it’s like I’ve been re-born. These have been the best years of my life.”

Because of his slow-burning cancer, Dave is unable to work. Instead, he gives back to the place he now calls home. Hear him explain how he spends a typical day, in the video below.

As you’ve seen, Dave has found a home and a new life at UGM, and credits the support of donors like you for making his transformation a reality. If you are interested in experiencing first-hand what happens at UGM, we would like to invite you to be a guest at an upcoming Dinner at the Mission.

RSVP to join us for a hot meal prepared by UGM’s chefs, enjoy a tour of our facility, and hear from someone whose life has been transformed, just like Dave’s.

Michael’s Story

Michael’s Story

Reframing the Picture

During his 20’s, Michael focused solely on investing into his lucrative career, until he found himself burnt-out. In a desperate moment, he felt pulled to re-evaluate his priorities.

“I left the business world and gave my life back to God,” Michael explains. “I wanted to change how I looked at money. Leaving everything I had always hung on to was scary at first, but God slowly replaced everything in my life with miracle after miracle. One thing after another, he rebuilt everything in a way better than it had ever been.”

Michael decided he wanted to give back to an area that had been important to his family for generations. “My dad had been a doctor in the Downtown Eastside,” he says. “And my grandfather spent his whole life volunteering at the Salvation Army. It’s a generational thing—it took me a while, but I finally got there!” Feeling his heart soften for the most vulnerable in our city, Michael sought out Union Gospel Mission. “I liked the God-driven aspect of UGM, and the fact that they are turning people’s lives around,” he explains.

Michael connected with UGM as a Hearts for the City monthly donor, and began reshaping his view towards his finances. Hearts for the City donors, like Michael, are crucial in allowing UGM to strategically carve a path for transforming communities, one life at a time.

Additionally, Michael longed to see first-hand how his support touched lives in the Downtown Eastside, which spurred him towards volunteering with Streetlight Ministries. Streetlight partners skilled Outreach Workers with compassionate volunteers to go into our community to build intentional relationships. Giving out hot chocolate, volunteers help open up a door for a caring conversation with those in need.

“Once I was doing Streetlight, I was able to see how people view UGM, and see that it really changes lives,” says Michael. “It just felt right to serve people who have seen so much pain and show them a little of the grace that God had shown to me. You can feel God’s presence out on the street.”

By giving back monthly and being connected with UGM’s Outreach efforts, Michael feels a true sense of partnership in the mission of Union Gospel Mission. We’re so thankful for our generous community of donors who work with us in offering a hand up towards hope and recovery.

If you want to join Michael in making a difference this spring, your $3.29 can provide hope during our annual Easter meal. Thank you for giving compassionately so that someone else can experience new life!

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