Fostering Family with an Open Door
Ed & Cathy's Story
Fostering Family with an Open Door
Ed & Cathy's Story
Neither ed or cathy have had an easy life
They’ve both struggled to make ends meet, and wrestled with an addiction to alcohol. This led each of them to UGM Mission’s Drop-in Centre 25 years ago for resources and support. But here, they found much more than that.
Back then, it was just me and my three children. I had just quit drinking. Going to UGM kept my kids safe; they’d meet their school friends and play together. We’d have dinner there too. It was a time for friends and family.
I’m a Red Seal Chef by trade. But I started going because I was spending all my money on bad habits, and I’d have no money for food. I knew that I could go get a meal there.
The two were friends, but it was Ed’s compassion that brought them together
When Cathy and her children got evicted from their house, I was living in a three-bedroom place all by myself. I invited them to come stay with me for a couple of months until they found a place… And she still hasn’t left! That was 23 years ago. We’ve now been married for 15, with 6 kids, 16 grandkids, and 2 great-grandkids!
I loved working in the clothing room. When Saturday dinners started, they needed someone to come in. I said, “I can try it and see how it goes.” After that, I just started going in every week to cook.
I used to drive the van to UGM Vancouver for donation pick-ups, help Cathy cook, run the clothing room, and help with kids’ chapel. I loved playing with the kids—even though I made more of a mess than them!
Kids the same age as ours looked up to Cathy as a mother figure. They called her Mom. And I was called the Rock. When someone had a problem, they’d come to me. I was just there for people to talk, pray, or even just give a hug.
I probably wouldn’t know how to read properly without them. I went all the way through school without reading. But they helped teach me how to read.
Also, the couple who started UGM in Mission knew my parents. When I was a little girl, they’d come over and have coffee and Bible time with my mom. They treated our kids like their own grandchildren.
At first, my three older children were sponsored to go to kids’ camp. But after going to Camp Luther altogether, they said, “We like family camp better!”
When we got together, we asked our other kids if they wanted to try it. They said sure, and we just never stopped! We’ve been going for 22 years as a family—kids, grandkids, and now great-grandchildren. I call it our time because it’s our time away from everything—no electronics, no nothing. It’s our time with the kids, and that’s it. It’s an amazing feeling.
It’s been hard for him to take care of himself, so we do what we can. But doing something with himself has helped a lot. He loves being out there all the time because he loves the little kids. He can see himself in them.
We like to keep in touch with people from UGM. We do that through cooking big holiday dinners with our church. All of our kids are there to help. I also see a lot of those people still on the streets. I’ll sit with or buy someone a coffee or meal if I can.
We tell people our door’s always open. They come sit for a couple hours when they need a place to rest. I’ve gotten phone calls at midnight. After, they’ll say, “Thank you. You just saved my life.” They were just about to take their life, but before they did, they called me.
Community means we help each other in one way or another. I support someone when they need it. And I’ve had somebody support me when I needed it.
I wouldn’t know what to do without my oversized family. Not just us, our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, but the Mission community. I love my family and the people in it.
Cathy’s got 25 years sober, and I’m at 2 years now. But if I didn’t quit drinking, I could’ve lost everything, like my family. I’ve also got lung problems, back problems, and a bunch of other issues. Because I can’t work, Cathy only has one day off a week. It’s all really hard. But things are starting to get better. We go to church. We’ve got faith. We’ve got people praying for us. It’s all good in the end as long as we get to go join God our Dad in Heaven.
Ed and Cathy’s perseverance is breaking generational cycles of poverty and addiction, extending into their great-grandchildren’s lives today. Beyond that, their love is cultivating hope for others in the Mission community.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo
one another in showing honour.” — Romans 12:10
When I think about loving someone with brotherly affection, I think about the life-giving role of families, and how exactly we can welcome people into that. Healthy families protect, support, and lift each other up. But a family isn’t just a group of people who are there for us. They’re people who are there with us, sharing in both the triumphs and the thick of life.
At Union Gospel Mission, loving people like this is what we do. Embracing people as brothers and sisters means to stop, sit down, and listen. It means to tune into their lives, and make every effort to care for those needs. It means assuring that they are always seen, that they have people to share life with, and that they are unconditionally supported. And most importantly, it means crediting Jesus as the sole source of this love, in whom a true home can be found.
There is a beautiful rippling effect to all this. As you read, Ed and Cathy each came to UGM 25 years ago for a little help. They were met with loving affection, and welcomed into our family—building relationships that have now lasted two decades and seen four generations! Today, they extend this love to their neighbours, all to whom they consider nothing less than people of their own.
This is what I love about UGM. Because you care so deeply for every guest, a true community is fostered—which ends up feeling like family to so many! However, the UGM family doesn’t just consist of the men, women, and children you help serve. UGM’s family is made up of mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons, daughters, and grandchildren—guests and donors alike, including yourself!
I thank you for being part of our family. My prayer is that you see how you and your heart to help transform communities is truly being honoured here at UGM. I can tell you that the change you are making will last longer than one person’s lifetime. You’re helping break generational cycles of poverty, homelessness, and addiction, and impacting lives into eternity. We absolutely rejoice in this, and cannot thank you enough.
William B. Mollard