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Easter Meal Provides a Chance for Change

Vancouver, BC—Union Gospel Mission prepares to celebrate hope, joy and rebirth at its 25th annual Easter meal for over 3,000 people on Saturday, April 19. The Easter feast, like all of UGM’s meals, not only provides food for those who are hungry, but an opportunity to make a change.

For Henry*, 58, it was a UGM meal that opened his eyes to his own need for help. “I was standing in the lunch line, waiting for a meal, and it hit me,” he says. “I’m not so different from everyone else here. I need help. It was a very humbling experience.” Even in the peak of his drug addiction, Henry always saw himself as different from others struggling with addiction. He had a stable job, home, and extended family to rely on, but when he found himself in a line for a meal, his eyes opened to his true circumstances.

Earlier this year, Henry graduated from UGM’s six-month recovery program. Nine other men share his commencement date, the largest class to graduate at one time from UGM.

Interestingly, each of the men entered through Gateway, UGM’s pre-recovery program, which opened in June 2013. There, participants are offered the necessary space, time, and encouragement to come off drugs and alcohol before entering the intensive six-month recovery program.

With a push from his family, Henry entered Gateway in August 2013.  Although he’d been using hard chemical drugs since his teenage years, his had addiction intensified in 2005 when he began to use every day. This cost Henry his career, health, and control over his life. He had attempted recovery before, but the 30-day programs weren’t enough to get to root issues.

Henry felt UGM was just the right place to create change in his life. “UGM was a calming environment to enter into,” he explains. “Everything was clean, things were new, the hallways were clear, and there was no clutter. Matching furniture is not so important, but it helped me to feel safe and to clear my head.”

Today, Henry remains connected to the UGM community. “I have so much respect and gratitude for UGM,” he says. “The guys in outreach have walked in my shoes and have empathy for my experiences. The counselors know how to deal with the feelings I have inside. That’s what makes UGM work so well.”

This Easter, Henry plans to volunteer and show community members the kindness he encountered when he first came to UGM.

“The Easter meal is never just about the food,” says Matt Hislop, UGM chaplain. “The pain of poverty is especially deep on holidays, so we want to make sure we are providing a safe space for those in our community who are struggling and may have a tough time asking for help. For many people that we see, all it takes is a meal to start to restore feelings of hope and safety.”

*name has been changed

EVENT DETAILS

WHEN
Saturday, April 19th; Doors open at 10:00am, meals served at 10:30am until 4:0pm

WHERE
Main location: 601 East Hastings, Vancouver (@ Princess Street)

OTHER LOCATIONS 

Women and Families Centre: 616 East Cordova

UGM New Westminster: 658 Clarkson St. (doors open at noon)

THE MEAL

  • 3,000 lbs of ham
  • 900 lbs of scalloped potatoes
  • 270 litres of pineapple sauce
  • 750 lbs of mixed vegetables
  • 675 apple pies
  • 560 litres of ice cream
  • 350 dozen buttered buns

MEAL PREP VISUALS

  • Ham carving by 14 Vancouver Culinary Student volunteers occurs on Thursday, April 17 from 8:45am – 11:00am. Feel free to contact us about other meal prep visuals.

UNIQUE THIS YEAR

  • Charlie’s Chocolate Factory has donated enough chocolate for all meal attendees to receive a little bag of eggs, making the holiday that much sweeter.

 

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