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Event: Gratitude Live – Union Gospel Mission celebrates 75 years through story, music and community

Vancouver, BC—Twenty-one years ago Mike Miller stepped off the bus in Vancouver with nine dollars in his pocket, looking for a fresh start.  Despite his hope to break from his addiction and move forward in life, he ended up homeless, sleeping in a newspaper bin behind Kingsgate Mall. Fortunately, his story did not end there. On Saturday, September 26th he’ll address the legacy that brought him to where he is today at Union Gospel Mission’s 75th Anniversary celebration, called “Gratitude Live.”

During Mike’s first two years in the city, he was caught in an all too familiar cycle of drinking away pay cheques, finding shelter on people’s couches, losing work, and finding sustenance by eating meals at UGM.

“I’ll never forget my first meal at UGM,” says Mike. “The cooks really went out of their way to make their food robust and tasty, because they had a huge heart for people. I was pretty impressed by that.”

After his uncontrolled drinking lost him another job, Mike, feeling the crush of defeat, turned to UGM for a meal and found something better—a space in the Alcohol and  Drug Recovery Program. He immediately sold his belongings and on August 19, 1996 he took up residence at UGM. Mike began the fresh start he had hoped for during his move to Vancouver two years prior. Today, Mike is 19 years clean and sober and runs the kitchen at UGM New Westminster—a kitchen he has worked in since he graduated from the recovery program.

Mike is just one of thousands who have been changed through UGM since its humble beginning in September 1940. Since then, UGM has grown from a small soup kitchen in an upstairs facility at 10 Powell Street, to seven locations across Metro Vancouver. This includes UGM’s newest facility, 601 East Hastings, a six-floor multi-purpose facility which, in 2014, provided 320,000 meals, 28,000 nights of shelter and housing for 101 people.

To celebrate their diamond jubilee, Union Gospel Mission is hosting “Gratitude Live”, an evening of stories, music and community. This milestone event honours the legacy of work that UGM has offered across Metro Vancouver for so long, providing support to those struggling with homelessness, addiction and poverty.

“This is a historic year for us,” explains Bill Mollard, UGM’s president since 2008, “and we want to pause and reflect with gratitude on this legacy. UGM began in response to the circumstances plaguing so many after the Great Depression. Since 1940, the faces have changed and the issues have become significantly more complex, but thanks to the care and concern of so many, UGM has been resourced to adapt, providing an evolving continuum of care to meet the needs of those on the margins today.”

Mike, who has given back exponentially in his 19 years of sobriety, explains how he tries to create a positive dining experience for guests whose stories reflect his own.

“I love the fact that each day, I am able to provide a nutritious base, which can be the first step towards recovery or other steps,” says Mike.

“If you can serve a meal with compassion, you can impact people. It’s not so much the food—the food is great!—but it’s vital that it’s provided with heart. That provides the first step on a bridge to change.”

 

EVENT DETAILS

WHAT:          Gratitude Live: UGM’s 75th Anniversary celebration

WHEN:         Saturday, September 26, 2015

TIME:            7:30pm (Doors open at 7:00pm)
WHERE:     
Glad Tidings Church, 3456 Fraser Street, Vancouver

COST:            No charge

RSVP:            [email protected]

*All are welcome!

 

Media Contact:

Derek Weiss

Manager of Community Engagement, UGM

Cell: (604) 362-0629

Tel: (604) 215-5445 ext. 485

E-mail: [email protected]

 

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for 75 years. Through its seven 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 www.ugm.ca.

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