New Life Blooms this Spring

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadows of your wings.” —Psalm 36:7

With spring planting season just around the corner, I find myself thinking not only of bulbs and seeds, but also of the intricate network of support that each one needs to crack open and reveal new life. Flourishing with the right care, a life in recovery is not a far cry from this tender sprouting stage.

We all need a network of support in order to thrive, but it is especially critical for someone doing the demanding work of recovery. That’s why I’m so grateful for your compassion. As you’ll read, Wanda was able to build her new life around the knowledge that she is treasured. Because of your generosity, women like Wanda can build a newfound sense of worth into their supported recovery. Thank you for helping this new life bloom.

Blessings,


William B. Mollard
President

Finding Treasure in Recovery

Wanda’s Story

Today, Wanda’s confidence is joyful and inviting. “When I learned that I had a value and worth, I realized I wanted to share that feeling with others,” she explains, beaming. “Sharing my story is part of that. My recovery has been about feeling joyous about who I am becoming.”

This compelling self-assurance is new. As a child, Wanda was painfully shy. “I felt lonely, like an outcast” she recalls. “Like I didn’t belong.” Having experienced the trauma of repeated sexual abuse at a young age, Wanda—the youngest of six siblings—always felt disconnected from her family. “My Grandma was my saving grace,” Wanda explains. When her grandma died, Wanda lost her safe place, and her sense of disconnection increased.

Wanda discovered drinking on her 13th birthday. She blacked out, after getting in a fight she couldn’t remember. “Drinking offered the euphoria of getting away, of not being in reality,” she shares. “It didn’t make me feel like I belonged, but it did numb my loneliness.” Her drinking was casual at first, and increased with time.

Everyone deserves to know they’re valuable.

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Throughout adulthood, Wanda didn’t find the belonging she sought, and eventually turned to illicit drugs. “I felt invincible when I was on drugs or alcohol, but even they didn’t give me purpose,” she says. Her relationship with her own kids suffered, as she didn’t want them to see her high. “I didn’t feel I was a sister or a daughter or a mother. I was so lost.”

Two years ago, Wanda checked herself into a hospital. She wanted to get sober, but told her nurse, “I can’t do it alone. I can’t trust myself.” There, she learned about Lydia Home, UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery for women. One week after applying, she got a phone call that the staff were preparing her room. Wanda was so excited she burst into tears.

“When I got to Lydia Home, it felt like I’d never not been there,” she explains. “It was an open-armed welcome, and I felt so comfortable. It was a true family feeling. I felt like a little sister right away—but not in the way I’d known being a sister in my childhood. Here, I was one of them. Right from the beginning I felt my loneliness closing off.”

One of the most profound things for Wanda was learning about God’s love. “I can now see that Jesus has been with me all my life,” she says. Every day, Wanda would read her Recovery Bible in group and alone, eager to absorb more of how God loves her. “I learned my worth at Lydia Home. And I learned this through knowing the value God puts on my life.”

Sharing my story is part of that. My recovery has been about feeling joyous about who I am becoming.

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Today, Wanda is living out a brave, vibrant recovery. “I’m learning or unlearning 55 years worth of stuff,” she says. “But today I am joyous. I enjoy who I’m becoming!” Wanda has completed the recovery program at Lydia Home, reconnected with her kids, and lives in safe and sober housing near UGM, where she volunteers regularly. Chances are you even received a phone call from Wanda during our monthly Thank-a-Thons. “I want to tell people that have given to UGM that I am what their gift has helped create,” she shares. “God transformed me at Lydia Home, and I’m so grateful for that gift.”

Wanda’s new life is wrapped in support, which allows her to grow further. This past year, she got a job with Mission Possible—a neighbouring non-profit—which aligns with her new sense of calling so well. Part of Wanda’s job includes street cleaning, overdose intervention, and building relationships with people in the neighbourhood. “Since I left recovery, I want to give back what was given to me so freely,” Wanda explains. “Because I’ve learned my worth, I want others to know theirs. Everyone deserves to know they’re valuable.”

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  • During her time at Lydia home, Wanda would read her Recovery Bible every day, eager to learn more of God’s love.
  • “I learned my worth at Lydia Home. And I learned this through knowing the value God puts on my life.”
  • Wanda volunteers her time to phone donors, like you, who have supported UGM’s programs.
  • “I want to tell people that have given to UGM that I am what their gift has helped create.”
  • Wanda works part-time, keeping the neighbourhood streets safe of used needles and other hazardous items.
  • She loves the opportunity to build relationships and give back. “Because I’ve learned my worth, I want others to know theirs.”

Every Woman Matters

One Outreach Worker Shares Her Favourite Part of the Job

As an Outreach Worker on our Women’s Resource Team, Sarah’s favourite part of her job is the one-on-one conversations she has with UGM’s guests. “When someone feels safe enough to share her heart and struggles, it’s deeply meaningful,” Sarah shares. “Each woman’s story has such value.”

Every week, the Women’s Resource Team holds space for these stories at Fellowship Fridays. Here, women share life and receive prayer. This addresses one of the main barriers our guests face: loneliness. A recent study revealed that around 1 in 4 Vancouverites experience loneliness—a feeling often magnified by poverty and homelessness. That’s why one of UGM’s core values is relationships. “We live that out every day,” Sarah explains. “No one is free from needing connection or feeling like they matter—it’s a basic human need.”

Another significant barrier Sarah sees, for families in particular, is food security. About 73.5% of children living in the Downtown Eastside live below poverty lines, making food scarce. In addition to providing food hampers, gift cards, and referrals in emergency food shortages, the Women & Families Centre hosts monthly family dinners. This table fellowship provides a nourishing meal for little ones and their busy caregivers, allowing guests and staff to connect in new, meaningful ways.

The current fentanyl crisis has also spiked an increase in physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. Just last summer, Sarah and her co-workers—trained, like all UGM’s staff, to administer life-saving naloxone—rescued a woman from overdose. “But we’re not just saving lives with that kind of immediate intervention,” she explains. “Because we offer a safe and sober site, we often walk with women until we see them in the freedom of sobriety.”

While Sarah’s role is for others, she finds herself blessed by the call. “So many of the women we know have gone through unimaginable injustice,” she says. “Yet despite this, many of them are so strong in their faith. Often, these women minister to me. Despite having experienced so much trauma, they’ll remind me that God is with us and for us. This incredible resilience inspires me.”

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Because of your big-hearted gifts, UGM’s Women’s Resource Team provided the following in the 2016‑2017 year:

749
food hampers
532
bundles of diapers or baby supplies
110
women found shelter, recovery, or housing
834
significant one-on-one meetings

Mary’s Big Heart for Vancouver

Mary grew up in the Grandview neighbourhood, just a short drive from UGM’s building on East Hastings. “My family grew up in the church, where the main emphasis was always helping others,” she explains. Drawn to professions that helped people, she became a nurse while her husband pursued a career in teaching. “As a nurse, you run into people from all walks of life,” she says. “Some have a rough time, and need help. As someone who follows Jesus, I believe I need to help others out.”

After seeing a UGM holiday meal on the news, Mary decided to reach out in support. “That first gift was motivated by the fact that we’d always been able to manage food and keep our family comfortable, while so many others can’t,” she explains.

Mary’s vision of UGM expanded last year, after visiting for a dinner and a tour. Shortly after this tour, Mary joined Hearts for the City, UGM’s monthly donor program.

All our donors are the lifeblood of UGM’s work. But as a monthly donor, Mary experiences an added mutual benefit, as she is able to plan her finances accordingly. “It’s nice to have a specific amount to build into the budget,” she explains. “I can still give to special things, like the camp fund, if I want to. It’s mutually helpful.”

Because of the consistent support from big-hearted donors like Mary, UGM has been able to dream big and expand its programs, ensuring no one falls through any gap. “UGM helps people who, often, haven’t had the privileges I’ve had over the years,” she says. “And I think that’s really worthwhile.”

Join UGM’s Hearts for the City Monthly Donor Family today!

By choosing to give monthly:

Your gift goes further. Giving monthly maximizes the impact of your generosity by reducing administration costs for single donations.
You don’t need to find a mailbox or go online every time you contribute to the cause. Automatic giving is convenient!
You’ll receive fewer mailings requesting your support, which saves paper.
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$32 provides 10 meals every month to people in need of a hand up

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