Union Gospel Mission To Serve 3,000 Easter Meals
Vancouver, B.C — Easter was rarely a holiday for Mike Gosling. Instead of family, friends and an Easter feast, the season brought homelessness and despair.
“Easter was another miserable day when I was out there,” says the 55-year-old. “I was circling the drain and had no idea how to get out of it.”
Mike grew up in a good home as a gifted student and avid reader. But he began abusing alcohol as a young teenager and over time – without knowing exactly why – found himself strangely compelled to continue drinking until he would routinely down several beers before breakfast. Alcohol led to hard drugs like cocaine and, by his forties, Mike’s addiction demanded every dollar he earned. He struggled to pay rent and realized his habit of using drugs on the job would likely lead to a serious workplace injury. In desperation, he quit his position as a warehouse foreman. He soon found himself homeless in the woods in Richmond, even eating occasionally from dumpsters and camping with the odd rodent.
“I felt like I had no more humanity,” he says. “Most places I lived were so bad you wouldn’t let a dog live there. One old barn, when I set up camp I was sleeping with the rats all night long. They were running over me…”
But five years into his life on the street, and just after Easter, something changed. A young teenaged girl noticed Mike drinking in a parking lot and took time to talk to him “like a civil person.”
“I felt like I was being treated like a human being,” Mike says. “Because she planted something in me, it took root and it grew…I woke up with the feeling in my heart that ‘there’s got to be more to my life than this.’”
Touched by the girl’s compassion, Mike soon connected with UGM Mobile Mission Outreach Workers and enrolled in UGM’s Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program. Now nearly 8 years sober, he’s sharing his story at UGM’s Easter Meal on Saturday, April 15th. He hopes his story will help others experience a rebirth at Easter.
“I feel I owe society for giving me the way out,” Mike says. “At UGM’s meal, [the homeless] get to feel and experience love and hope of another life, there is more than just survival. UGM picked me up and gave me my life back. If I hadn’t gone into UGM I don’t think I’d be alive today.”
“The recent homeless count showed a 30% surge in homelessness so UGM is needed more than ever this Easter,” says UGM President Bill Mollard. “We’ll welcome thousands this weekend and hope to inspire more men and women, just like Mike, toward a different life.”
DATE: Saturday, April 15th
TIME: Doors open at 10:00am, meals served at 10:30am until 4:30pm
WHERE: Main location: 601 East Hastings, Vancouver (@ Princess Avenue),
Women and Families Centre: 616 East Cordova,
UGM New Westminster: 658 Clarkson St. (doors open at noon)
- 2,200 lbs of ham
- 900 lbs of scalloped potatoes
- 270 litres of pineapple sauce
- 750 lbs of mixed vegetables
- 600 apple pies
- 400 litres of ice cream
- 300 dozen buttered buns
Senior PR Specialist, Union Gospel Mission
Cell: (604) 996-1417
ABOUT UNION GOSPEL MISSION
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides meals, emergency shelter, counseling, education, chaplaincy, safe housing and alcohol & drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild lives and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.
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