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

“Why Don’t You Just Get a Job?”

UGM’s Summer Connect Event Highlights Hurdles, Breaks Barriers

When Antonio Balice found himself homeless last month, the 40-year-old mechanic felt “lost”. He had no idea what to do or how to do it.

“It was terrifying,” he says. “I didn’t know there were actually resources to help me…I thought it was the end of the world.”

Antonio arrived in Vancouver to start over after his Ontario business failed. But moments after arriving by Greyhound, Antonio’s bag was stolen – along with his I.D., credit card, and final few dollars. He then faced the monumental task of starting from scratch while navigating life on the street. Challenges like finding a job initially seemed insurmountable.

“I don’t think the average person understands how difficult it is,” Antonio says.  “You don’t have work attire, you don’t have money to get to work…I didn’t know how I was going to pick myself up…I didn’t know where to go.”

Knowing ‘where to go’ will be easier than ever on June 15th when UGM hosts its 5th annual Summer Connect. The free event will bring a record 48 organizations to the same city block, streamlining access to vital supports like mental health, housing and employment. Princess Street will be shut down to accommodate 50 booths and more than 1,500 attendees.

“Those on the street face big barriers, especially when it comes to things like finding work,” says UGM President Bill Mollard. “They might not know where to apply, how to get referrals, or how to write a resume. They might not have a phone if an employer wants to arrange an interview or have transportation to get to work. They also may have vision, hearing or health problems that prevent them from getting certain jobs. Summer Connect can help with these things. With nearly 50 organizations present, guests can make strides in one day that might normally take days, weeks or even months.”

Someone searching for a job, for example, can connect to potential employment, work referrals, voicemail service, resume training, computer literacy education, bike repair for transportation, haircuts, healthcare, legal aid and education in just one day. From there, guests can connect to housing supports or mental health supports – thanks to sponsor Lundbeck Canada.

“As a company dedicated to mental health, it was important for us to get involved in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where a number of people living with mental illnesses are unable to easily access much-needed services that are spread out across the city,” says Lundbeck Canada’s John Raaby. “Union Gospel Mission’s Summer Connect seemed like a great fit for us. The program is greatly aligned with our goal of improving the lives of Canadians living with mental illness.”

“I think Summer Connect is an awesome idea and will help a lot of people,” says Antonio. “I’m very grateful for everyone at UGM for helping me.”

Date:       Wednesday, June 15th
Time:      11:00 – 3:00
Where:   UGM Main Location, 601 East Hastings (@ Princess)

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

Every minute of every day, the billions of cells in our brains send and receive signals that influence everything, from the memories we form to the emotions we feel. By studying the brain, Lundbeck hopes to better understand the underlying mechanisms of brain disease. The human brain is fascinating and our fascination started almost a century ago. Over the years, millions of people have been treated with our therapies and while it is complex and challenging to develop improved treatments for brain disease, we will maintain our focus.  Globally, we have been around for a century, and 20 years in Canada, where we have always been dedicated to mental illnesses and are now emerging as a provider of healthcare solutions in oncology.  At Lundbeck Canada, we are committed to making improvements in these areas and this belief drives us to constantly challenge the status quo because Canadians living with brain diseases and cancer deserve better.

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 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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