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Grand-Opening: Official Opening ceremony for UGM’s newly renovated 616 East Cordova; mom’s with infants program announced


Vancouver, BC—When asked what brought her to recovery, Jennifer has a simple, two-word answer: “my son.” For many women, children are the drive behind the desire to overcome addiction and live clean and sober. On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, Union Gospel Mission will host the Official Opening of the Sanctuary Program, in the newly renovated Women and Families Centre. The Sanctuary Program consists of two Stabilization Programs for women seeking a recovery-centered life. Phase One, a gap-filling and housing program for women in between recovery and detox, was announced in March; and on June 25th, Phase Two will also be announced.

Jennifer, a graduate of UGM’s recovery home for women in Mission, will be one of the event speakers.

Thirteen years ago, Jennifer was a working mom in Mission, stuck in an abusive relationship with a troubled man, and quickly loosing herself to her addiction. In a desperate attempt to save her two-year-old from a dangerous home environment, she dropped him off at daycare one day and didn’t return.

“It was the best I could do for him at the time,” she explains. “I was so completely powerless.” Her son ended up in foster care and Jennifer eventually escaped the relationship, but she spiraled downward, ending up in the more troubled parts of the Downtown Eastside.

“I was completely hopeless,” she says. “I recall a moment when I was down on Hastings and the song ‘In the arms of an angel’ played and I prayed I would get off heroin and see my boy again. I would lie awake at night and hear him crying, even though he wasn’t there. I became determined to get him back.”

When her son was four, Jennifer received a Thanksgiving dinner from UGM and got connected to the charity. She enrolled at Lydia Home, UGM’s recovery house for women, located in Mission. But recovery was not an easy road. “I got sober and it got worse,” she says, referring to the pain and trauma that the drugs had allowed her to suppress. “It felt like I was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon looking up.” But life did turn around for Jennifer. She graduated in 2001, got her son back when he was six, has maintained sobriety for eleven years, and has blossomed as a parent.
Today her son is in university working towards medical school. Her second son is in grade five. Jennifer does not take a moment of it for granted.

“When you’re using, your kids are in the way,” she says, “but now I cherish them and am completely devoted to them. I can’t thank my own parents enough for their unending love and for going to bat for me. Without them, and the prayers of so many, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Jennifer was fortunate to find a recovery bed right when she needed it, but sadly many women who are ready to make a change quickly find there is a lack of services. Many women do make it to three-day detox, but most of them are referred back to shelters and unstable housing where it is exceptionally difficult to maintain the sobriety they’ve gained, and most end up right back where they started.
UGM’s 24-Hour Sanctuary Program aims to stop that gap, as well as the gap between recovery and stable housing.


Overview of the two Stabilization Programs:

1) General Stabilization beds for women

· Women will be able to live at UGM during their time of transition, as staff provide tactical support, trauma-informed counselling, holistic grief support, health and wellness education, client-centered advocacy and care and acceptance without judgment, prayer and spiritual support.
· Program begins Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

2) The news release explaining the second type of stabilization beds will be released June 25th.


Project Funding

The cost of renovations and seed funding to run the program for the next three years is $2,526,000 and just over $2.3 million has been raised to date.

UGM specifically recognizes the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, in partnership with Metro Vancouver for funding the renovations of the east wing of the building. UGM is thankful to HPS as well as to all its private donors who have allowed these renovations and life-changing programs come to fruition.


Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
  • Time: 10:30pm – 12:00pm
  • Speakers: President Bill Mollard, Barbara Atkins, Manager of UGM’s Women and Families Centre, and graduate of UGM’s women’s recovery program. Another special speaker will be announced early June 25th


Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 7 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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