In 1940, Vancouver bore the scars of the tumultuous 1930s. Families were living in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Canada had just entered World War II. Work was scarce. Alcoholism was widespread. Many people were caught in the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and a man named Bob Stacey was inspired to do something about it.
Bob Stacey was just 21 years old when he founded Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission in 1940. Having seen men’s lives transformed through a rescue mission in New York City, he felt called to provide the same compassion to people struggling in Vancouver, BC. Devoted to building hope for people experiencing poverty, Bob quickly spread the word, recruited volunteers, collected donations from local churches, and fundraised the cost of rent for the upstairs of UGM’s first location: 10 Powell Street.
Open every day, Union Gospel Mission’s first location could seat 60 people for a hot, nutritious meal and house six men each night. Every evening, Bob, accompanied by church groups, choirs, and other volunteers, would offer a chapel service with soup and a sandwich. On December 25th, 1940, UGM held its first ever Christmas Dinner for the community and served over 100 people. Bob’s vision was clear: help and a hand up for all who needed it. What started as a small sense of hope-filled purpose has grown, shifted, and evolved to bring that same hope to so many men, women, and children since 1940.
Today, UGM serves over 3500 meals at its annual Christmas dinner, and over 320,000 meals annually. We've expanded our programs and services significantly and grown to fill 7 locations throughout Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission. With dedicated, visionary leadership and a united faith in God’s provision, UGM is determined to transform communities by overcoming poverty, homelessness, and addiction—one life at a time.