Take action by making a donation to Hope Recovery Project.
The Hope Recovery Project is a new partnership between the Vancouver Mining Sector and Union Gospel Mission. Established in 2012, the vision is to create a long-term, sustainable fundraising partnership between the local mining community and UGM, to help provide real solutions to poverty, addiction and homelessness throughout Metro Vancouver.
The Hope Recovery Project is raising funds to sponsor men through UGM’s 6 month Alcohol and Drug Recovery Project. It costs C$11,000 to put one man through this life-changing program. By comparison, it costs society roughly four times this amount per year for each untreated hard drug user.
UGM’s Recovery Program works: Typically 60% of the graduates over the last year are still clean and sober; 45% of the graduates over the last two years are still clean and sober.
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada. Many people struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, abuse, and mental illness. Dependency on alcohol and drugs contributes to the devastating cycle of poverty and despair; it’s a downward spiral that limits potential for a productive life and positive, healthy relationships.
Union Gospel Mission's live-in Alcohol and Drug Recovery program for men is built upon an intensive 6 month abstinence-based model with an 18-month Second Stage option. The 6 month program brings clients through the process of overcoming the struggles of addiction with one-on-one counseling, group support, life skills building, anger management, relapse prevention, life and financial management seminars and Employment Counseling.
The 18-month Second Stage program provides continued support as graduates reintegrate into daily life. This includes opportunities such as ongoing counseling and group support through the Alumni Association and continuing life and financial management seminars and Employment Counseling.
There are many more men who need support to break free from their addictions. The difference you can make in their lives is enormous.
It costs $11,000.00 for one man to complete the 6-month program (including all classes and materials, counseling, housing and meals). Given each untreated hard drug user incurs approximately $45,000.00 in societal costs per year, helping a person get the help they need is clearly a good investment.
Will you help? Your gift to this life-changing program will ensure men-in-need will have the chance to get clean and sober, and to build a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities.
Since 2012, Vancouver's mining sector has generously donated $275,060 to sponsor more than 25 men through UGM's program.
more men get their lives back today?
Take action by making a donation to Hope Recovery Project.
When I first came to Union Gospel Mission, I was struggling with a 30 year addiction to crystal methamphetamine. I knew if I didn’t find help, my life was over.
I still remember the day I walked through UGM’s doors. I was under 160 lbs. My eyes were sunken in. I was sick and I was scared. “I had been living in a tent under the Pattullo Bridge for 2 years, and I had gotten to the point where I really didn’t care if I lived or died”.
“My drug addiction started when I was 18 years old. I came from a very dysfunctional and abusive family situation”. I was a good-hearted kid and always tried to take care of my siblings, but somehow I was the primary recipient of physical abuse from my father. It is still very hard to talk about.
“As a teen, I started using drugs as a way of coping”. I was able to manage a fairly normal life in the beginning. I fell in love, got married young, and had 2 beautiful sons. I worked a solid day job and provided for my family. But at night, when my family was asleep, I would slip away and go out to party. I led an entirely different life after-hours. I was involved with a group of motorcyclists, and drugs and crime were part of the lifestyle.
I was very good at keeping secrets and this double life went almost unnoticed for 22 years. Eventually, my wife discovered the extent of my drug use and late night activities, and got really scared. She took the kids and left. That was a huge shock. I gave her the money I had, and I went to the streets. Everything unraveled from there.
”My drug use continued and got much worse. I was involved in crime to fuel my addiction. I moved into a tent under the Pattullo Street Bridge, planning to save money and find an apartment. However, drugs continued to rule my life”.
On meth, you don’t eat or sleep. My health was failing and I was wasting away. I would stay in my tent for weeks at a time, only coming out to find something to eat or buy more drugs. When I heard that a friend had left this life of addiction and entered recovery, I realized I needed to fight to get my life back on track.
“ I left the tent and stayed at the Salvation Army for a few days. Their staff referred me to Union Gospel Mission’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery Program. I took a bus to UGM, feeling afraid but hopeful. I arrived and was greeted warmly by one of the counselors. Right there, I knew I was in the right place”.
Going through recovery was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was very emotional dealing with the pain of my past, but I fought hard to recover and the results exceeded my expectations. The hard heart I once had is healed and now I am a kinder, softer person.
Today, I work on UGM’s Maintenance Team, which allows me to stay connected to my support system and offer encouragement to others who are going through recovery. I currently sponsor 3 individuals in the program. “Life is good. My children are back in my life and I continue to grow in this new life”.
Without generous donors, I would still be going down the path of destruction. “UGM helped me release the pain I was carrying around”. Now, instead of turning to drugs, I'm able to handle the problems and challenges of life in a healthy positive way. “I am able to shine God’s light and use my gifts to make a difference in others’ lives”.
Glenn grew up in West Vancouver with his parents and younger brother. It was a happy childhood and he and his brother enjoyed a close relationship, playing sports and doing outdoor activities together. Unfortunately they also both took the dangerous path of drug use.
“Around the age of 15, I started to drink with my friends, and as the years went on I was drinking more and more. In my early twenties I started experimenting with other drugs like marijuana and cocaine.” As Glenn explains, his younger brother was also progressing in his drug use, with heartbreaking consequences. “Around this time, my brother discovered his drug of choice: heroin. He died at the age of 25 from a heroin overdose. I was devastated but it still wasn’t enough to make me quit my drug use.”
Glenn continued to use drugs after his brother’s tragic death and was soon in the clutches of a powerful addiction to cocaine. He used for many years and eventually his addiction strained relationships in every aspect of his life. “I was alienating myself from everyone who cared about me.”
After nearly two decades of drug use, two failed marriages, and many job losses, Glenn realized his life has become unmanageable. “I always wanted things to happen on my timeline and on my terms. But I knew something had to change; the plans I had for my life were not working out.”
In 1998, Glenn reached out for help at Union Gospel Mission. He completed the program, but admits he hadn’t fully committed to the changes he needed to make to stay clean, and eventually started slipping back into his old habits.
He began drinking socially again and sometime later, he convinced himself he might be able to use his drug of choice, cocaine, “casually”. Once cocaine was back in the picture, Glenn quickly began to spiral back into his addiction.
It was clear to those who loved him that he was once more struggling, so a dear family friend spoke to him about seeking help for his addiction issues once more. Glenn, too, knew he was needing to pursue recovery again, no matter how difficult it seemed. “I was 54 and realized I’d better get it [the principals of recovery] this time.”
Returning to UGM, Glenn applied himself diligently to the work of recovery, was more open to change, and happily graduated in October 2009. Having learned the importance of making use of the aftercare support offered to Alumni of the recovery program, he’s stayed connected and is now the vice president of UGM’s Alumni Association.
The sense of community and acceptance he found at the mission is something Glenn continues to value as an important aspect of his recovery.
“The people have been a real blessing. The way the staff, the counsellors, and they guys in recovery all eat together and share conversations… there’s no division, and that means so much to someone who is lonely or lost. I learned to be comfortable in my own skin here, and that’s only through the grace of God.”
At the age of 11, Carl started using drugs and alcohol to cope with severe childhood abuse and trauma. Later, his drug use escalated when he got a job with a travelling carnival based out of Winnipeg. Working nearly 20 hours a day, getting 3 hours of sleep a night, Carl relied on drugs just to stay awake for his shifts. “After a few years on the job”, he shares, “the hours were getting to me so I increased the drug use, snorting more coke, smoking more crack – all day, every day. It was a blur for 5 years. I lost control of everything.”
In 2000, a friend asked Carl to help him move from Winnipeg to Vancouver. While the trip was meant to be only a week long, Carl was struck by the beauty of the coast and decided to stay. After a few days living out of hotels in the Downtown Eastside, Carl was also struck by the harsh violence present on the streets of Vancouver. He and his friend scouted out places for free meals in the neighborhood and quickly decided that Union Gospel Mission had the best food.
Drawn back repeatedly for the great meals, Carl was also touched by the ever-present love and attention from Outreach Workers. “They shook my hand, asked my name, and asked how I was doing. They had genuine concern and they cared about me. That’s why I kept coming here.”
Over time Carl developed a trusting relationship with UGM’s staff and volunteers. Feeling uplifted and inspired within this supportive community, Carl decided to join UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery Program. While working through the program, Carl experienced a major transformation in his perspective. He realized that, while his life had been filled with darkness and strife, he had a very special gift to share: The gift of encouragement. “The more sober I became and the more clear headed I was thinking, I noticed that if you’re happy and you’re positive, you encourage people, it spreads it around and everybody gets it.”
Today, Carl is over 3 years clean and sober and is employed at UGM. Carl reflects on his transformation, “For me, it all started with a meal and, thanks to the support of donors, my life today is positive and upbeat.”
Carl is a real blessing to those he meets and it is truly evident that he is committed to serving however he can. And Carl wanted to pass on this inspiring message to readers, donors, and to everybody else…
“The Bible teaches us to give back, to love your brothers and sisters, and that’s what we’re supposed to do. We have to take care of one another.”
Music always came naturally for John. At 10, he took an interest in learning guitar and started teaching himself songs by ear. However, like many adolescents, as he entered his teenage years, partying with friends took over as his top priority.
By the time he turned 14, John knew he was starting to develop a drinking problem, which progressed well into his adulthood. He reflects, "At first drinking gave me courage to be who I wanted to be, but after a while people started looking at me strangely for the things I did when I was drunk but couldn't remember. Then the lying began, and the conning, the manipulating, the excuses, the rationalizations, and the justification. I was living a lie, one day at a time."
John worked as a manager in the lucrative hotel industry, which only fueled his addiction. "I led a high roller lifestyle. I wouldn’t start drinking until 4pm, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to stand by the end of my shift at 1am. My life before UGM was all about me, and all about money", he remembers.
Eventually, unable to juggle work, life, and his addiction to alcohol and drugs, John joined an Alcoholics Anonymous group and, after much hard work, recovered from his addiction to alcohol. Things were on the mend, but then John got into gambling. He shares, "I was back into the same kind of lifestyle, I had just replaced drinking with something else. I had become addicted to gambling and as a result lost my job. When you lose your job it's hard to keep life rolling as planned."
Struggling to make ends meet, while in between jobs, John ended up homeless and at his wits end. "I started to hear thoughts that the world would probably be a better place without me. Every waking moment that thought was running through my mind, louder and louder as time went on," he says. "That thought pattern is mental anguish at the highest level. If people asked me how I was doing, I’d just say, “I’m okay”. I was completely isolated in my addiction, in denial and delusion about where I was at."
John came to Union Gospel Mission for a hot meal, and was welcomed warmly by a trained Outreach Worker. "Out of the blue a staff member came up to me and asked if I had a place to stay for the night. I said no, and he arranged a place for me to stay in the shelter. Basically, my transition into a healthy, happy life started right then and there. I went in for a meal, got a place to stay for the night, and then, while I was in the shelter, I made a decision to give recovery another shot." With the support of UGM counsellors and staff, as well as his fellow recovery program participants, John was able to overcome his addictions, and nurture the things that mattered to him most, and it all started with a meal.
After several years clean and sober, John committed himself to the training and education necessary to become a UGM Outreach Worker so he could help others find the joy and healing that he’d struggled towards for so long. "Every day I want to be there for somebody who is hurting, and needs a little hope. When I hear somebody say, “I’m okay”, I pay special attention because I know that sometimes "I’m okay" doesn’t really mean that at all." Through his work at UGM, John discovered he has an ability to preach, teach, and share his story in a way that gives hope the guests at UGM.
A few years ago, John rediscovered his love of music and realized it could be a powerful tool to bring peace and healing through his work. Now, at 7am most mornings throughout the week, John can be found leading UGM guests in music. "The music and worship starts to break down that outer shell, and says to people in a clear, gentle voice – You can find healing. You can find love. Amazing grace is kind of an anthem for me: once I was lost but now am found, once was blind, but now I see."
Today, John continues to embrace the joys and challenges each day brings. "It's amazing. Every day I wake up entering into uncharted territory. Life is a gift, recovery is a gift." John has become an invaluable part of the UGM Outreach Team. His testimony and music continue to touch the hearts of those who are looking for a glimpse of hope, waiting for an invitation to turn their life around and embrace life, once again.
UGM is a non-profit, urban relief organization that has been feeding hope and changing lives across Metro Vancouver for over 70 years.
Based out of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, with locations throughout Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM’s comprehensive range of programs and services are offered without discrimination.
This life-changing continuum of care includes meals, outreach services, emergency shelter, alcohol & drug recovery, education and employment, programs for women, children & families, and affordable housing.
The heart of UGM is to create brighter futures for men, women, children and families in our communities. For more information: ugm.ca
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Union Gospel Mission
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