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Miracles Begin With a Meal

Miracles Begin With a Meal

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” –Luke 2:14

Each year as the Advent season approaches, I’m thankful for a time that allows me to pause and in some way experience the longing and waiting that often comes before the joy and hope that Christmas delivers. In Vancouver, Christmas is a bright spot in a dark, wet and cold season. Compared to most, winter can be even bleaker for our guests—many who are struggling to survive on the street, or uncertain of where their next meal is coming from. It can be especially hopeless if you lack family, connection, or community.

That’s one thing that is served alongside each meal you provide for our neighbours in need. Not just food to combat hunger, but a way out of isolation, back into community, supported by caring staff who desire to see the lives of our guests move forward. Just one meal can provide the opportunity to plant seeds of trust and tell someone: You are loved. There is hope

A meal is just one crucial part of UGM’s Continuum of Care. See, we want someone to be nourished—then perhaps they can imagine making other difficult changes in their life. That might mean finding a safe night’s rest in our Emergency Shelter, or working through recovery in our A&D Programs, or maybe seeking help with finding long-term housing or employment. We want to meet the needs of the whole guest—but that only happens once hunger subsides.

We’re so grateful that you desire to see lives changed this winter, just as Jonas’ was. For just $3.29, you could provide a meal that makes a difference in someone’s life. Because you care, miracles are truly going to happen this Christmas.

On behalf of all of us at UGM, I hope that God richly blesses you this season.

Merry Christmas,

William B. Mollard
President
Living Life Now

Living Life Now

Jonas' Story

In February 2014, when Jonas woke up to find himself lying on the floor outside of his apartment, unable to move, he knew something was wrong. He had just suffered a seizure, and needed help.

Jonas had spent sixteen years of his adult life as a cruise ship photographer, travelling the world and partying with passengers. But as alcohol regulations increased on board his drinking became a problem, and at age 38, was breathalysed and thrown off the ship, losing his lucrative career. “It sunk in: the party’s over now,” he says. “I didn’t have much of an education to rely on. My bubble burst, getting off those ships.”

The years that followed were full of depression, anxiety, and heavy drinking. Ashamed and refusing to recognize his addiction, Jonas’ relationships with his family unravelled. “When I was really deep in my depression and anxiety, I couldn’t see any way out of my situation,” he explains. “I had a lot of fear. I was so embarrassed towards my whole family that I wasn’t as successful as my brothers. It was a very lonely life. I was totally isolated.” Struggling to survive off of his small labouring paycheques, Jonas ended up renting an SRO (Single Room Occupancy) apartment in the Downtown Eastside just a few blocks from Union Gospel Mission.

A Full Serving of Hope

A Full Serving of Hope

Behind-the-scenes of UGM’s Kitchen

You know that each meal that you help serve is the beginning of someone’s story of new life, but what about the story behind that plate of food? Well, it starts in Union Gospel Mission’s kitchen, where 365 days a year, knives are sharpened, vegetables are chopped, and plates are lovingly prepared with nutritious food for people in our community who can’t afford to feed themselves.

When UGM’s doors opened in 1940, small quarters and limited resources only allowed staff the capacity to feed approximately 30 meals each day to those in need. But today, because of your support, we are able to serve over 800 meals a day! To many of our kitchen staff, cooking becomes more than just cooking, as they understand the significance each meal has for our guests. “I’ve been working here almost ten years, and I still get good feelings at the end of the day,” Tom, UGM’s Assistant Kitchen Manager explains. “You get a rewarding feeling because you’re helping others. These meals mean a lot to our community.”

It’s a great opportunity to do something I love here and not worry about stressing or overworking myself. I enjoy it. Tweet this

Not only does the kitchen prepare meals to encourage our guests to seek a new chapter in their story, but it provides a safe, sober environment for some of our staff to continue their lives in recovery while using their culinary talents. Jenna had worked in kitchens for over 10 years, many which fuelled her addictions. After recovery, Jenna expected to have to find a new field of work until she started working at UGM. “It’s my passion, but I don’t want to do it outside of here because it’s a danger zone,” she says. “Addiction is really bad in kitchens. It’s a great opportunity to do something I love here and not worry about stressing or overworking myself. I enjoy it, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Our kitchen works hard to make thousands of plates a week (Over 320,000 meals a year!) to feed our community—nutritious meals that give our guests a slice of hope when times are tough. But the real reason our staff are able to work so diligently is because of the compassion you’ve shown by providing these meals. Because of your heart for those struggling with poverty, homelessness, or addiction, plates are heaped full, and lives are changed.

Did you know?
UGM does its part to divert food waste from our local landfill. Our GreenGood Composter turns food scraps into nutrient rich soil in just 24 hours—making composting an easy, sustainable choice that we make every day.


It only takes $3.29 to change a life this Christmas

On December 10th, thousands of men, women and children will come to UGM for our 76th annual Christmas Dinner. This hearty holiday feast provides nourishment and hope to those in need—and it only happens because of you.

We invite you to invest in this tradition of caring by giving a hot Christmas meal that can change a life, just like it changed Jonas’. Thank you for your support, which does so much to restore lives!