UGM’s Women & Families Centre

UGM’s Women & Families Centre

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” –Isaiah 1:17

As you know, children and families living in the Downtown Eastside face immense challenges. 46% of families here are low-income. Many households are supported by single mothers who work long hours to provide for their families. Children grow up too quickly without enough positive role models to encourage their dreams.

These are the challenges UGM’s Women & Families team combat each day. Through many strategic programs you’ll learn about, our Women & Families team comes alongside whole families to provide a place of safety and hope. This is why camp is so important—it gives a child a place of safety at a young age, a feeling that can change a whole life.

Thank you for joining us in the belief that no woman or child should be left without. And most of all, thank you for helping us provide something essential to families in our community: a safe place that someone can turn to when they need it most.
MayGratitude_SignatureBillWilliam B. Mollard

Send a Kid to Camp, Change a Life!

Send a Kid to Camp, Change a Life!

Every summer, Union Gospel Mission’s bighearted donors have been giving kids in need the life-changing experience of summer camp. Of course camp is filled with fun and adventure, but a week at camp also gives kids the chance to experience a positive environment, connect with peers, and build life-giving relationships with healthy role models.

UGM works with 15 quality Christian camps throughout BC, giving kids the opportunity to choose a camp that’s tailored to their interests—interests that may even include sailing or horseback riding! This means that each individual experience is unforgettable.

For many kids, this single week can change the trajectory of their lives.

  • Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to go to camp. I really enjoyed getting to grow closer to God through it

    - UGM camp participant

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  • I can’t wait to go back to camp. What makes me want to go back is that camp has the ability to make everyone feel loved.

    - UGM camp participant

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  • Thank you so much for giving me a scholarship for camp. I got to ride a horse named Kenya. She trotted really really fast. This year I accepted Jesus into my life!

    - UGM camp participant

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With your support this summer, kids across the Downtown Eastside and Metro Vancouver will once again have the opportunity to experience how transformative a week at camp can be. Please consider sponsoring a child to go to camp this summer. Together, we can help kids overcome adversity, and build bright futures—one camper at a time.

It costs $350 for one child to have a life-changing week at camp. Please give generously to give a kid an unforgettable experience this summer.

Change a life today!

LEAD Program

LEAD Program

Opening Up Opportunities for Youth

It’s been two years since LEAD (Leadership Experience and Development) was established to empower youth in the Downtown Eastside and equip them with leadership skills, explains Mike, coordinator of the LEAD program.

LEAD provides participants, aged 13-18, with effective training and practice to develop life skills, programming experience, and build character. Through workshops, volunteer experience, and unique certification opportunities, youth are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and discover their potential.

“A mindset shift has to happen,” Mike explains. “We try to teach the kids how they can give back, and remind them that they have things to offer.”

During a participant’s time in the program, he or she will learn things like lesson planning, time management skills, and how to effectively lead small and large groups. A major focus of LEAD is training youth to volunteer at UGM’s summer day camps, as well as Spring Into Summer camp—a three-day camp for children in the community. Teens in LEAD work as counsellors and take responsibility to plan and lead games for the campers.

“My hope is that they see that they can make a positive difference despite their circumstances,” Mike says. “My hope is that they realize they have something to offer and each one of them can influence their circle around them. Whether that’s just going to be their family or friends, or they’re going to be the next prime minister, I want them to achieve what God set out for them.”

LEAD is always looking for new work or volunteer experience for their youth. If you are able to provide volunteer experience opportunities for motivated youth, please let us know and we’ll be in touch!

Threads of Therapy

Threads of Therapy

Marie’s Story

When Marie sits in front of a sewing machine, she lights up with confidence. Her hands seem to know innately what they’re doing. This realm of creativity is a place of security for her—something she had been searching for since she was a child.

Marie became a mother at the age of 18 after surviving a traumatic childhood of parental neglect due to their struggles with addiction. “Parenthood was the most amazing thing,” she reflects. “I never knew what it was to love, because growing up, I didn’t feel loved.” Even though being a parent was transformative, after her third child was born Marie found herself still searching for something. To fill that void, Marie turned to alcohol.

Life quickly became “chaotic”, Marie describes. She often would awake after being passed out from drinking, to find her children gone. The family Marie had desired so strongly in her youth was slowly unraveling. “When my kids weren’t with me,” Marie says, “I would walk through the house from bed to bed and lay in each one wondering, ‘Why can’t I stop? Why is this happening?’”

I never knew what it was to love, because growing up, I didn’t feel loved.Tweet this

Unable to manage her drinking in order to care for her children, Marie moved to Vancouver in an effort to get sober, but the struggles with addiction continued. What followed was almost ten years of bouts of sobriety ending in painful relapses triggered by stressful jobs, tumultuous relationships, and a self-professed ‘workaholic’ nature.

In August of 2015 Marie woke up after having been blackout drunk for five days. The feeling of withdrawing from a prolonged binge was something she had never experienced before. “I was so sick from alcohol poisoning,” Marie recalls. “It was the first time throughout my drinking I realized alcohol kills. I was so scared I was going to die right then and there.”

The next afternoon, Marie was admitted into detox and under careful supervision she ended up recovering sooner than expected. After two weeks her detox counsellor mentioned The Sanctuary at UGM, which excited Marie. “I was willing,” she explains. “When I woke up from that relapse, I knew I wasn’t in control of what was happening in my life. I had to give everything up and just surrender.”

In less than a week, Marie walked into The Sanctuary, ready to start her next chapter. “What was vital for me about the Sanctuary was the love,” she says. “I felt very cared for. There was something about being there that just kept restoring my faith.”

I felt very loved and cared for. There was something about being there that just kept restoring my faith.Tweet this

That same fall, thanks to a donation of several sewing machines, Marie found herself enthralled with sewing. “It was like my talents that were always there were finally coming out,” she explains. It’s important for people doing the hard work of recovery to be productive and practice positive skills that reinforce their beliefs in their abilities. To encourage this, The Sanctuary has instilled a new Peer Leadership Program that encourages residents and alumni to gain self-esteem by sharing their skills, and expanding their work experience.

Within weeks Marie developed not only as a sewer, but also as a leader, often taking the initiative to learn new patterns and techniques before teaching them to other Sanctuary residents. Sewing quickly became a thread of therapy that connected her with other women in The Sanctuary. “They would be sewing and they would be so comfortable with me that they’d start talking about their lives,” Marie explains. “I think it’s good for them to connect with someone who lived there and has had similar outside experiences.”

Today, Marie focuses on giving back to her new community as a way to focus on her sobriety. In December, she moved out of The Sanctuary and into UGM’s Affordable Housing, allowing her to remain nearby. “Thanks to my last relapse, I have so much more self-awareness,” Marie explains. “I have a relationship with God now, after shutting the door on Him.”

The close-knit relationships she’s built with Sanctuary residents, and others in the UGM community continue to propel Marie forward in her recovery, while enabling her to bolster other women in their own journeys. “The Sanctuary has meant so much to my life,” Marie says. “If it weren’t for my relapse, I wouldn’t have been there. I wouldn’t have the relationships with people in my life who’ve been the biggest supporters I’ve ever had in my life.”

Marie has found that community and security she longed for as a child. “I feel like I’m home, when I’m at the Sanctuary,” she explains. “I would say it’s like family.”

“I’ve been blessed to come from a family with doting aunts and grandmothers. I was very conscious that these ladies in The Sanctuary didn’t have anyone sewing things for them. It made me realize that this quilt I make may be the only handmade thing that this baby’s going to get.”

Joan, UGM Donor

Thank You

for partnering with us to provide hope and opportunity for many women and families in our community. Because you have shown your compassion and care, you are building bright futures for families.

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