I hope that this newsletter finds you well and back into your routines after our hot Okanagan summer. This colder season brings with it a very important celebration: the 40th anniversary of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. I have been the Executive Director here for 17 years, and I am still amazed by the incredible transformations that happen here every day.
The complexities of homelessness have changed since 1978, when our founder Marshall Calverley first began this organization. Over time, we have adapted our services to meet these new challenges, while upholding our promise to help lead people towards wholeness by giving a hand up to help improve their lives.
We are currently organizing our annual Thanksgiving dinner—an amazing event in which our guests can bond over a nutritious meal and quality time spent together. Thank you for supporting Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, and have a joyous Thanksgiving.
Kelowna’s Gospel Mission serves hundreds of people every day, and everyone that walks through our doors has a unique story. Today, we would like to share with you the story of Jackie and her boyfriend Andrew, a young couple who defied all odds after seeking help at our facility.
Jackie, who grew up with very unstable parents, left home at the age of 13. She lived with her boyfriend’s family for a few years.
“I had been to bad places before, but this is one point that I had promised myself that I would never get to.” —Jackie
After relocating to Kelowna, Jackie found Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and became a fixture at our centre. She visited us often for nourishing meals, which helped remedy some of the instability in her life. When our staff member Trevor took notice of Jackie’s struggle with addiction, he convinced her that it was time to detox. Unfortunately, Jackie was arrested before she could secure a place in the the program.
“The day I got arrested and was finally transferred to the women’s correctional centre, I looked into a mirror,” says Jackie. “I had been to bad places before, but this is one point that I had promised myself that I would never get to.”
This was when Jackie realized she needed to make a change. Seeking courage through prayer, she started going to church and participating in Bible study. While in jail, Jackie started working in the kitchen and developed a passion for cooking.
After leaving prison, Jackie reconnected with her boyfriend Andrew, who had also just been released from jail and was in a recovery program as well. The couple found comfort in each other, and were able to embark on their road to sobriety together.
Both Jackie and Andrew are now almost 2 years sober, and are working full time. The road to a healthier life has not been easy for the couple, but they are both proud of the independence they’ve gained.
Kelowna’s Gospel Mission is so honoured to have been a part of Jackie’s recovery story, leading to her reconnection with Andrew. If Jackie had never visited us here for meals, she may not have gained the encouragement that inspired her to seek help. This is why we are so excited for our annual Thanksgiving meal, which will give our guests more of the hope they need to move forward. We look forward to to building connections with more clients like Jackie, over more upcoming joyous festivities and hearty meals.
Myrna first came to our emergency shelter in October 2017, after unexpectedly finding herself on the streets. Myrna reached out to our emergency shelter for help, where we connected her with Terra, one of our case workers. With Terra’s guidance and the help of our community, Myrna was thankfully able to find an apartment that suited her needs.
Myrna was so excited to finally have a place of her own, but she still had no furniture! Terra arranged for Kelowna’s Gospel Mission Thrift Store to deliver donated furniture and household needs to the apartment, and Myrna was so grateful. The people who had donated that furniture were heros for Myrna, because they helped her transform her house into a home.
“It was beautiful and it all matched!” says Myrna. “They even delivered it and set it up for me. It fits so well, like it was meant to be here.”
Myrna still frequently eats at the Mission, so we still see her regularly. As a senior on limited income, our free meals are a very important part of Myrna’s daily life. She is incredibly thankful for the time she spends at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, eating nutritious meals and making lasting connections with our staff and guests.
Kelowna’s Gospel Mission offers a charitable, not-for-profit dental clinic. It provides emergency pain appointments and quality basic dentistry by our staff dentist, Dr. Joel Keshwah, along with many other volunteer dentists, certified dental assistants and hygienists. The clinic accepts patients who qualify that have low income or no income at no charge to the patient. This service has been transformational for many of our guests, like Lorran, who would otherwise not have access to dental care.
Growing up, Lorran was cared for by her single mother, who was on welfare. This meant that her access to dental services was limited, and her dental experiences were far from pleasant. When she came to us, she had many stories to tell about her difficult life on the streets, and a 21-year struggle with addiction which started when her boyfriend passed away in her arms. After facing numerous traumatic experiences related to drug use, she entered a recovery program for help with her addiction. This was where she heard about our dental service.
Lorran has been coming to us for her dental appointments since 2017, and says she is very grateful for the opportunity to feel cared for.
“I didn’t expect it to be so stress-free,” says Lorran. “Dr. Keshwah is the best dentist I have gone to and I’ve been going to dentists for 40 years.”
We are very grateful for our generous donors and volunteers, who make it possible for us to offer this incredible service to those who need it most.