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For all media inquiries, please contact Jeremy Hunka, Senior Public Relations Specialist, at 604 996 1417 or [email protected].

Union Gospel Mission To Serve 3,000 Christmas Dinners

(Vancouver) – Christmas was often far from festive for 41-year-old Richard Lamarche. Homeless, isolated, and struggling with addiction, Richard spent December drowning in despair.

“I spent Christmas in a homeless shelter,” says Lamarche. “I was hopeless again, I was scared, I didn’t know what to do…I hated it.”

Richard was born in B.C. and raised in Vancouver. Though he excelled at sports like lacrosse, Richard struggled with self-worth as a student and faced relentless bullying. He was introduced to drugs at just 14-years-old, which seemed to take away feelings of insecurity and anger, before being coerced into selling drugs by another dealer at just 17. Despite success in the restaurant industry, Richard eventually couldn’t hold a job and slid into homelessness before his 30th birthday.

“I ended up on the Downtown Eastside streets for three years,” he says. “I slept in bank tellers to keep warm, I set up a camp on the North Shore for a time…My view of this world was absolutely horrific and I wished I had no part of it.”

Though Richard saw flashes of success over the next decade – spans of sobriety, a common law relationship, and two young children – life remained unstable and Richard found himself homeless once again during Christmas of 2015. Alone, Richard attempted suicide. It was then he decided to seek help at Union Gospel Mission, which he knew from years before.

“It was relief almost instantly,” says Richard, who entered UGM’s Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program. “There was a glimmer of hope.”

Now reunited with his family and approaching his second anniversary of sobriety, Richard is a full-time employee at UGM, where he will help serve 3,000 meals at the annual Christmas Dinner on December 9th.

“My gratefulness and gratitude are overwhelming some days,” says Lamarche. “I hope that sharing my story, struggles, and success will encourage someone else to take a step of faith and do the same [by asking for help].”

“Christmas can be make-or-break for our homeless guests,” says UGM President Bill Mollard. “This meal could be a turning point for many, like Richard, who will connect to our life changing supports like addiction recovery or housing. We want them to reclaim Christmas too.”

EVENT DETAILS

Date:     Saturday, December 9th
Time:    Meals served 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Where:

  • Main location: 601 East Hastings, Vancouver (@ Princess)
  • Secondary locations: Women and Families Centre 616 East Cordova,
    UGM New Westminster: 658 Clarkson Street (doors in New West open at noon)
  • Note: Volunteers will be carving turkey in preparation on Thursday, December 7th from 9:30-10:30am at UGM’s Hastings location. Media are welcome to attend but asked to RSVP to Nicole Mucci at [email protected].

THE MEAL

  • 2200 lbs. of turkey
  • 800 lbs. of mashed potatoes
  • 700 lbs. of vegetables
  • 800 lbs. of stuffing
  • 300 litres of gravy
  • 260 litres of cranberry sauce
  • 3900 dinner rolls (375 dozen)
  • 600 cherry pies
  • 400 litres of ice cream

CONTACT

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

 

ABOUT UNION GOSPEL MISSION

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for more than 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides emergency shelter, meals, outreach, career development counselling, education, safe and affordable housing, addiction recovery, and much more 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 www.ugm.ca.

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