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UGM community members give back by running the Scotiabank 5K/Half-marathon this weekend

Vancouver, BC—While some athletes push themselves to compete, Tracy is pushing herself for a cause. Paralyzed on one side, Tracy has been training with other women at Union Gospel Mission to walk the Scotiabank 5K/Half Marathon on Sunday, June 24, 2012. These women, along with 100 other runners, are helping raise money for UGM’s Women and Family programs, one of Scotiabank’s three featured charities.

“I’d be lost without UGM,” says Tracy. “It’s made a big difference in my life. I used to always put myself down, now I know I can do things.”

Having overcome homelessness in her 20s, Tracy, 54, still struggled with being taken advantage of by family members and men. Twelve years ago she came to UGM hungry and troubled. She not only got a meal, but had someone to talk to that really cared. She hasn’t left since.  Tracy regularly volunteers her time, not letting her disability slow her down. Admittedly, life isn’t easy, but the training gives her forward motion.

“The exercise makes me feel better about myself,” she says. “It’s improved my mood, my asthma, and I know I am walking for a good cause—to  help others at UGM like they have helped me over the years.”

Tracy isn’t the only one who’s life has been touched by UGM support. UGM also offers prevention for struggling families.

Today Nicole Robson is a hard-working, successful business woman, but 17 years ago she was a struggling single young mom.  Determined to provide for her daughter Jaliesa, she studied business by day and worked at night so her daughter was never without her. But despite years of hard work, finances were dangerously tight. Nicole knew the profound impact overnight camp had made on her own life as a pre-teen and wanted her 12-year old daughter to have the same chance, but the finances made it out of the question. So she called UGM.

“It was a very hard phone call to make,” says Nicole, as she inquired about the camp sponsorship program, “but Jenna was amazing. She didn’t make me feel like I was worth less because I couldn’t do it all on my own. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

UGM subsidized Jaliesa’s camp fees and the experience transformed her. “It opened her world,” says Nicole. “The whole experience allowed her to gain new confidence and new friends at a critical juncture in her life.” Jaliesa agrees. “When I got home after a week at camp I was radiating happiness. I was kinder, more outgoing, and I even cleaned my room regularly,” she says. “I was the person I had always wanted to be. Without a doubt, I believe in the power of camps for kids.” UGM sent Jaliesa the next year, and Nicole was able to send her all the years following. Jaliesa is now a bright, strong, kind young woman, volunteering her own time at camp.

Nicole, her mom, sister and Jaliesa are all walking the Scotiabank 5K/Half, helping raise money for UGM so women like Tracy can get off the street, girls like Jaliesa get a boost, and so many families caught in cyclical poverty can receive deeper levels of support.

“Sometimes people are just one conversation away from life changing moments,” says Darren Sinke, Coordinator of Family Ministries at UGM.  “In the middle of all the chaos and dysfunction that poverty and addiction bring, every woman, mother, son and daughter deserves a shot at stability and growth.  We can help give them that shot.”

To support UGM through a runner or to sign up to run:

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 9 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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