A Message from Our Executive Director
Randy Benson

With Thanksgiving already over, we can’t escape the fact that we’re well into the season of autumn. While we may associate this time with larger heating bills and risky commutes, it’s always a good idea to pause and put things into perspective.

So many of us are so blessed, even beyond what we readily recognize. For those who are experiencing poverty and homelessness, the story goes a lot differently.

Because of the generous care expressed by people like you, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission has been able to come alongside those in need in our community and create inspiration for change for over 38 years.

We’re so grateful for all of the support we receive. At our annual Thanksgiving meal this year, we provided meals for over 800 guests!

As we see success stories unfolding all around us, we’re cognizant of how much more work still needs to be done. During the long winter nights, it becomes a struggle just to stay alive.

Proverbs 14:31 says whoever is kind to the needy honours God.  At Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, we want to honour God by welcoming every person who is in need.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

 

Blessings,

Randy_sig-crop-solid

Randy Benson

Executive Director

It Can Happen to Anyone
Paul & Ilga's Story

When Paul and Ilga first met 13 years go, Ilga was ready for change, after having recently lost her daughter and unborn grandchild to a devastating car accident. She and Paul dated online for a few months before she decided to move from her hometown of Quebec to British Columbia to be with him. It wasn’t long before they were in love and living in a new home to both of them.

It was a mobile home owned by Paul’s boss, who offered them the deal of paying on a rent-to-own basis. After six years, Paul and Ilga thought that they owned their home outright, but this was not the case.

It was a complete shock to them when Paul’s boss declared bankruptcy and revealed that he’d never transferred the ownership of the home to them.

They were immediately evicted.

Paul and Ilga were both undergoing some health issues, Paul receiving chemotherapy treatment and Ilga dealing with COPD (progressive lung disease) and the repercussions of two heart attacks. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, they found themselves at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission’s shelter.

In the past, when Ilga drove past the shelter, she’d think, “That will never be us.” On arrival, she was a mess. She was afraid of feeling humiliated and didn’t know what to expect.

Now she recognizes that it can happen to anyone. “People are just two paycheques away from being homeless,” said Paul.

As the couple got to know the staff, volunteers and other guests at the Mission, they realized that they had a lot to give, in the way of relationships. They became invested in the stories of each person there.

“Once you get to know them and understand where they’re going, you realize that they’re more like you than you’d imagined,” said Ilga, adding, “There’s a lot of hardship out there.”

Paul and Ilga’s stay at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission was short. Within 5 weeks, and with the help of their caseworker, Tony, they’d found housing and had moved out. With a new place to call their own, they’re looking forward to being able to save again and eventually buy a car and a home.

“I was humbled,” said Ilga. “I think it was a good test.”

They gave us everything we needed and I’m grateful for the experience because it helps to see what people go through. People experiencing homelessness are just like you and me.

Now, she describes her new home as heavenly. Their roof, their food, their door. She’s determined to never take them for granted again.

Paul is still waiting for another round of therapy, but expressed his thankfulness for a comfortable home to return to, while recovering between treatments. “If it weren’t for my faith in God, I wouldn’t have made it,” added Ilga. “You see it from afar, but you don’t live it.”

The shock of the situation put a lot of stress on Paul’s body, so he’s incredibly happy to have pulled through without further complications.

“We’re coming out of this situation with fuller and more welcoming hearts,” said Ilga. “Sometimes we judge without realizing we’re doing it. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Giving Back
Dave's Generosity

Dave is the owner of Concept Manufacturing Ltd. (CML). He started his BC business in 1988 and produces soap and cleaning products. For the past 12+ years, CML has donated all of our cleaning products: shampoo, body wash and laundry soap. Never have they asked for recognition or thanks, and give quietly on a monthly basis.

Dave’s inspiration for donating is his relationship with God and Jesus Christ. “It’s also just the right thing to do,” he says.

Dave’s story of giving to KGM begins with an already generous heart. After work one day, it was on his mind to go visit the shelter.

As he rounded the corner of the Mission in his ragged work clothes, a guest who’d been standing nearby called out to him. “Hey man, you have to come inside for coffee… Today they have donuts!”

Dave was so touched that this man, who had nothing, was more worried about him getting coffee than his own needs. Soon afterwards, he got his family business involved.

“I believe we have to give back. We don’t have the right to judge anyone, because everybody has a reason, a history and a story.” — Dave

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission Outreach Program
Help Extend our Services to the Streets

We are starting up our Outreach Program once again, and you have the opportunity to be generous, once again! While focusing on the hidden homeless population, we’ll be working with community partners and looking for community volunteers.

The Outreach Team, with our Outreach Worker Joanne heading them up, will offer food and juice to each person they come across and let people know about our services. They’ll offer help with whatever is keeping them from housing, whether it’s mental health struggles, or lack of access to ID, income or affordable housing. Your support will help create long-term relationships of trust, and help our community members build momentum towards positive change.