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For all media inquiries, please contact Nadia Tchoumi, Manager – Media Relations and Communications, at 604 996 1417 or [email protected]

UGM Stitches Lives Through Sewing

New Program Offers Healing, Money Management Skills to At-Risk Women

(Vancouver) Marie Lavallee once reached for alcohol when she felt anxious or overwhelmed. Today, the former cocaine user and alcoholic reaches for a thread and needle.

“It does provide so much healing for me, it’s opened up a whole new world,” says the 37-year-old. “There’s just something about sewing that’s therapeutic.”

Marie is the first woman to take part in UGM’s Learn to Earn Sewing Program, a new initiative that offers sewing and money management skills to at-risk women. After 10 hours of training, participants receive a sewing machine of their own – empowering women to build self-esteem, earn income, manage money and potentially establish a business. For Marie, who sought help at UGM after a drinking binge left her blacked out for days, the program has been transformational. She receives a small honorarium for instructing other UGM guests and is working with several businesses eager to sell her handiwork.

“I hope it’s a way of supplementing my income, it’s slowly starting,” says Marie.  “Sewing allows me to take control. I’m more confident in myself and I’m not as afraid of a lot of things.”

The program is available to current and former residents of UGM’s Sanctuary, a refuge which provides stabilization beds and holistic live-in support to women and their babies. For guests with a history of trauma or addiction, the sewing program offers a safe space to create order after years of living in chaos.

“Many women in the Downtown Eastside feel like they’re hanging by a thread,” says UGM Special Projects Coordinator Korena Zietsman. “The sewing program empowers women, encourages wise money management and reveals their true potential. This offers hope and a future.”

“I’m so thankful for this program,” says Marie. “Without UGM I wouldn’t have taken on these new opportunities. I’m excited for my next steps.”


Media may RSVP for a behind the scenes look at UGM’s sewing program from 10:00-11:30 on Thursday, May 26th. Please RSVP to Jeremy Hunka prior to arrival. Space is limited.

Date:        Thursday, May 26th
Time:      10:00 – 11:30
Where:   UGM Women and Families Centre, 616 East Cordova (@ Princess)


Jeremy Hunka
Senior PR Specialist, Union Gospel Mission
Cell: (604) 996-1417
[email protected]


Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counselling, 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 lives and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit

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