Camp Supports Whole Families

Camp Supports Whole Families

“This experience isn’t just something to share with others. This is a huge impact to his self-esteem and dreams. Now, in his future, he hopes to share the love which he experienced at camp with people in need.”

A grateful mother recently shared these words in appreciation of the experience her son had at summer camp. As she shared, camp can be such a crucial opportunity to support children to build bright futures and help them grow into healthy, whole adults.

Family camp is one opportunity for an entire family to experience how life-changing camp can be! In this issue of Gratitude, you’ll read about the difference that a week at camp made for Janet’s family. For the energetic family of eight, camp gave them invaluable time together—time that would be impossible during the normal pressures of the year.

With your help, hundreds of children and families will be able to attend camp this summer. I hope you recognize the great impact your gift has, not just in providing unforgettable summer memories, but also in empowering and encouraging kids and adults alike to be all that they can be. With your support, cycles of poverty in our neighbourhood can be broken as we continue to nourish bright futures.


William B. Mollard
A Box of Gratitude

A Box of Gratitude

Janet’s Family’s Story

Summers for Janet’s six children typically follow a similar rhythm—long days at the park, plenty of arts and crafts, and picnics together. But what her kids often don’t notice is the work that their mom joyfully does to conduct each summer activity. For Janet, arranging activities to keep her family learning, growing, and playing together is important, especially as sending all six kids to camp is simply out of reach. So when she found out that Union Gospel Mission offered sponsorship for children and low-income families to attend summer camp, she was eager to apply.

“We just didn’t have the funds to go or even think that this would be a possibility,” she says. “Maybe they’d send one or two kids to camp, but to go as a family was just something that was way out of reach.”

My kids were doing stuff that we never would be able to do ourselves.Tweet this

Thanks to the support of generous donors, a week for the entire family at camp was made possible last summer. Each day, the family of eight spent time together kayaking, swimming, and enjoying family meals together. “It was important to have as a family,” Janet says.“That was a big thing. And that drew us all together. Normally, it’s hard with school and everything.” At family camp, parents are able to engage with children individually and also take time to enjoy themselves. Family time is emphasized, with dedicated meal times and opportunities to make family memories by the nightly campfire. “The one week we were there, the quality time was the equivalent of at least six to eight months of time,” she says.

After returning home, the family crafted a box of summer camp memories filled with their favourite experiences to create a time capsule of their time together. “This whole box just spoke the 1000 words that we couldn’t even describe,” she says. “It was another activity that drew us all together and brought back the memories. I think we’ll always have these stories. They live on forever. And that’s just the surface of camp.”

As you can see, one week at family camp gave each member of Janet’s family unforgettable memories, and a chance to learn new skills and witness unique moments. “My kids were doing stuff that we never would be able to do ourselves,” Janet explains. “We have a photo of each of our children in a kayak. It almost brings me to tears just to look at it. It would be so hard to do something like that on our own, but at camp it was possible.”

Gaining Confidence to Dream Big

Gaining Confidence to Dream Big

Two new programs propel Sanctuary alumni forward

Women staying at The Sanctuary undergo a tremendous amount of change as they walk the road of recovery. Often, as women prepare to transition away from The Sanctuary, their lives have been so transformed that many are unsure where their next step should be. Realizing these gaps inspired Sanctuary staff to launch the Peer Leadership Program (PLP) and Learn to Earn: two new programs making a big difference in the lives of Sanctuary residents and alumni.

Korena, UGM’s Wraparound Aftercare Worker, explains that at the core of PLP is the desire to encourage healthy work habits, while allowing women to build self-confidence surrounded by a familiar, positive support system. “It provides an opportunity for them to discover a sense of value and purpose as well as receive a small honourarium to provide for their needs,” she says. Available positions have been tailored to each participant’s strengths and interests, including helping in the kitchen and dining rooms, leading sewing workshops, or acting as a support recovery group facilitator.

Learn to Earn was developed after The Sanctuary received a large donation of sewing machines. Learn to Earn participants participate in weekly sewing workshops led by a former Sanctuary resident. After 10 hours of sewing practice, each woman is gifted a machine to keep as her own. “Many women in the Downtown Eastside feel like they’re hanging by a thread,” Korena says. “The sewing program empowers women, encourages wise money management and reveals their true potential. This offers hope and a future.”

Below, a recent participant shares how the Peer Leadership Program has affected her life.

I want to express my gratitude for all the love and care that I have received while being a resident of the Sanctuary. I am now alumni and part of the Peer Leadership Program. I cannot express how wonderful and supportive Korena has been to me—she makes such a difference in my life. The encouragement and love that I receive from her is a life changer. I am so thankful to have her in my life, and also have the opportunity to come back to UGM to give back as well as make a little money. It makes all the difference.

I have been helping Steve in the kitchen for a while now and want to express how kind and patient he has been while working with him. He has always made me feel welcome and capable. He is gentle in his approach to “showing me the ropes” in the kitchen. He has patience and a sense of humor and I always look forward to coming in. I am thankful that he is easy to work with, with no judgment, only kindness. I don’t have enough nice things to say about him. Thank you all for being such a big part of my recovery.


Donors like you make it possible for women like Serena to experience these moments of hope. Thank you for supporting women as they make positive changes in their lives.

Send a Kid to Camp, Change a Life!

Send a Kid to Camp, Change a Life!

Thanks to you, each summer kids and parents write us with abounding excitement about the amazing experiences they’ve had at camp. Because of you, kids have the opportunity to experience adventures they never dreamed of having. From crafts to canoes, sailing to sports, these new experiences can shape the direction of a child’s life—ushering in bright futures! Below is just a selection of these notes of appreciation.

We long to continue to see children across the Downtown Eastside and throughout Metro Vancouver navigate the challenges of growing up with impactful mentorship, accessible opportunity, and the knowledge of God’s love. With your partnership, this summer we can provide children in need with the opportunity to make positive connections that will last a lifetime.


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!