Looking back on another year, we are grateful to everyone who helped bring our neighbours from homelessness to wholeness! Christmas is almost here and at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission this means a chance to celebrate Christ’s unconditional love, and gather as a family with those who have nowhere else to go.
This year, we have partnered with the city through their Journey Home initiative and are working to come up with long-term solutions to the housing crisis. Meanwhile, homelessness in Kelowna is increasing and a warm place to sleep can be the difference between life and death. To meet the growing need, every inch of our current building is being used, and we are considering new growth strategies.
Your gifts help people move towards wholeness. As we remember all that Christmas means to us, let’s remember to reach out to those less fortunate as God reaches out to us.
Your generosity helps feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and help the hurting. Together, we are restoring wholeness to those who need it most. Thank you for your support.
At Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, we recognize that we can only help people move from homelessness to wholeness through the generosity of our donors. As such, we take accountability seriously and want you to know how great an impact your generosity has on people’s lives here at the Mission. Here is what you made possible last year.
I first came to Kelowna’s Gospel Mission in 2013 or 2014,” says Shawn. “I was there for three years. I was a functioning addict then and the staff were really understanding in helping me through that.”
After finding employment, Shawn occasionally stopped by to visit. Thanks to gifts like yours, the staff were able to accommodate him after a hernia operation and after he suffered a physical assault. They always made him feel as comfortable as possible. Their kindness and understanding stuck with him.
“I got help two years ago, after waking up in the ICU,” says Shawn. He’d induced a coma by drinking too much. When he woke up in the hospital three days later, he was completely disoriented. He asked his nurse why he was restrained and had a catheter. He asked why he couldn’t just get up to use the bathroom.
She leaned in and said, “Because most people in this unit don’t wake up.”
“It sank in real quick,” says Shawn. “I’m an only child and my parents told me that if I didn’t do something to help myself they were going to walk away from me, because they couldn’t watch me die. It was hard to take, but it was tough love and if they didn’t do that I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Shawn left the hospital and went into a recovery program. There Shawn learned to forgive and love himself. Although he had always been a Christian, it wasn’t until he was staying at the Mission that he actually found God. Now, two years sober, Shawn is working at the Mission, sharing his story and offering the same love and support he received in his recovery.
“Everyone who walks through the doors gets compassion from staff and volunteers that don’t judge,” says Shawn. “The staff and volunteers here smile and shake your hand and honestly want to know how you are doing. In my understanding, those are traits that Christ had. Christ shared love for his fellow man and this Mission gets to share that love every day. I find it so overwhelming that I get to play a small part in that. It’s not about the paycheque, it’s about the satisfaction of knowing I’ve made a difference.”
We feel honoured to have played a part in Shawn’s story. Thank you for the crucial role that you also have played in his success story!
Donors and volunteers are the backbone of the Mission. It is especially inspiring when volunteers offer their unique talents to foster a sense of warmth, dignity, and hope for our guests.
Earlier this year, staff member and local artist, Heather Boissoin, volunteered to paint a mural to brighten our walls. Benjamin Moore stepped up to donate the paint and Heather painstakingly chose each colour.
She was excited about the project and shared regular updates on her Facebook page to let others in on the fun: “The staff at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission wanted to make the space more welcoming and comfortable for the guests, so I volunteered to do a mural!” said Heather in one post. “The amazing international muralist Kristin Grant volunteered her night to help me paint! It took two of us 5 hours to get the final coat on,” Heather said in a follow-up post. “We finished at 3 am!!”
After all the hard work, fun and camaraderie, the mural turned out beautifully, depicting a lush river valley at sunrise. It has transformed Kelowna’s Gospel Mission! Now, as guests enter the building and enjoy a meal in the dining hall, they can be inspired by Heather’s beautiful landscape!
For people facing homelessness or addiction, the Christmas dinner served at the Mission is an opportunity to reconnect with friends and celebrate in a warm, welcoming environment.
Guests, volunteers, and staff always look forward to Christmas. This year will be extra special as our dining hall will be decorated by local schools, and former guests will share their stories of recovery to encourage those just beginning their journey to wholeness.
We expect to serve over 650 Christmas meals. We need your help to make that happen! Please give to make this a Christmas of hope and joy for our guests.