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A small donation can make a big impact – running shoes helps partially paralyzed woman get mobile, safely

Vancouver, BC—Today Scotiabank donated $20,000 to the Union Gospel Mission’s Women and Families Centre day shelter, a contribution that will transform the lives of many women. Union Gospel Mission can do what it does because of contributions, big and small, each having their own impact. This donation is in addition to the $27,000 raised by the community during the Scotiabank 5K/half marathon. 
Opened in February 2012, women’s day shelter is provided in collaboration with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center (DEWC), to help provide emergency shelter for women around the clock. It meets the dire need for safe shelter for women fleeing violence, unsafe housing or homelessness on the Downtown Eastside.
The UGM Women’s Centre has been able to utilize gifts great and small to help improve the lives of women in the shelter and in its programs. One great example is Tracy, a long-time UGM community member who is paralyzed on one side. Just prior to the Scotiabank 5K/half marathon this summer, she received a Runners and Rackets gift certificate that had been donated to the Mission. 
Like many women in the eastside community, Tracy was already working hard at improving her own life, but needed some support. For her, walking is a challenge and falls are a reality. Earlier this year, she caught the itch to walk the Scotiabank 5K, and joined a group of UGM ladies who were training for it. 
“For six months, she came out to train wearing a pair of $29.99 sneakers,” explains Skye Walks, Outreach Worker at UGM. “She had saved hard for those sneakers, and had worn them to the ground. She was the only lady who did not miss a single training day.” Tracy received the gift certificate near training day. With it she was able to specially order a pair of New Balance sneakers, specially designed to help with her leg strength. Since then, Tracy has only fallen once. 
“Because she now has the proper shoe support she needs,” explains Walks, “Tracy has been able to build up her strength and prevent herself from falling. The day of the race, Tracy walked faster than anybody in the group. Volunteers couldn’t keep up with her. She would not stop.”
Walks, who has known Tracy for many years, says it has been amazing to accompany her on this journey, and that the transformation in Tracy is apparent. 
“This has been an incredible experience for me,” says Tracy. “I have noticed an improvement in my confidence, my strength and my mood. Sneakers are hard for me to find, and these fit like a glove. I’m so thankful I can keep doing what I love.” 
Thanks to the $47,000 donation from Scotiabank and the community, many more women like Tracy will receive opportunities for continued and sustained growth and success with their own individual and unique set of challenges.   
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 8 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and 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 the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit
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