A Message from Randy

Every time Thanksgiving comes around, I, like many others, find myself reflecting on what I am thankful for. It’s so easy to take for granted the simple things. Thanksgiving is about perspective. Depending on your point of view, something that’s insignificant to someone else could be significant to you, and vice versa.

This Thanksgiving, I’d like to challenge you to consider how something small can make a real impact on your day, and remind yourself that the smallest action of grace can matter to someone struggling with poverty.

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

  Randy Benson
  Executive Director

 

Overcoming Roadblocks
How Ken is moving forward

Ken and his seven siblings grew up on a farm, struggling to live off the land. His alcoholic father forced the children to do all the chores. Ken describes his passing in 1983 as a relief.

He moved to Dawson Creek, falling in with a crowd of drug dealers and drinkers. He soon became fed up with that life, and moved to Kelowna for recovery. Unfortunately, a series of bad choices led Ken to seek shelter at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.

Over the next few years, Ken struggled to find his feet. Though he had a job in construction, he was unstably housed and was a frequent guest at the shelter. He settled down with a partner, only to lose his housing again when she fell ill and was hospitalized.

Sadly, Ken’s partner passed away much too soon. Ken fell into a deep depression and wondered how he was going to make it through. Gradually, as he spent more of his time at the Mission, he realized that helping out in the community actually helped him deal with his own sadness. Soon, Ken even took on a regular volunteer role, all while finding solace in talking to Pastor Lester and the people in his AA group.

“I used to come up here and have lunch or dinner. It meant a lot to me. To be able to come up here and have a hot meal, be with people, talking with people. Interacting.” —Ken

Over the course of the following months, Ken faced other challenges, but with the help of his caseworker and the Mission staff, he was able to keep pushing forward.

Ken has been fully sober for over half a year and is facing life head-on. He lives in his own place now, but returns to the Mission daily to help out with making and serving coffee, organizing community activities and just chatting with his friends and sharing mutual encouragement.

“When I’m here and busy, I’m not out drinking,” he says. “The Mission has given me purpose. I never really had a purpose in my life before.”

Looking forward, Ken would like to get an education. He hopes to become a caregiver, maybe even a counsellor so he can pay it forward and help others as he was helped.

“Most of all, I attribute everything I have to God,” he says. If God wasn’t in the mix, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I encourage everyone to volunteer at the Mission. I also want to show people that if they choose to turn their lives in a different direction, that it is possible.”

What a Meal Can Mean
Anton Hermann reflects on giving

To many of us, a meal can seem like a small thing. But to our guests and one very special donor, it means much more. We recently received an incredible letter from Anton Hermann, who grew up at the height of the Soviet Union.

“One sentence stood out for me in your thank you letter,” he wrote. “It said, ‘a meal may seem like a small thing,’ but to me it means a lot. My memories are of growing up in a country where food was scarce. We were brainwashed with propaganda.”

After Anton’s father was sent to the gulags for being German, his mother struggled to provide for her children. A family friend heard of their situation and offered a bag of coal to keep warm.

“My mom sent me to get the coal,” Anton wrote. “The lady asked if I would like some pancakes. On top of the stack, she put a whole jar of honey. I will never forget this one meal.”

When Anton came to Canada in 1951, he found God. “I am 90 years old now, and the love of Jesus urges us to show compassion to all, just like the compassion I was shown.”

Our Community Shares Gratitude

We can all agree that no one deserves to be left out in the cold at Thanksgiving. That’s why every year, Kelowna’s Gospel Mission serves up a traditional, family-style Thanksgiving meal for our guests. We expect a record number of guests at our table this year, and we need your help to welcome them all. Please consider making a special gift today, and bringing light and joy to someone who is struggling.

  • “I am grateful that I can share about the lord Jesus and doubly grateful when others come back and tell me about their experiences with Christ.” —Father Ron, Volunteer

  • “I’m grateful for all of the caring staff here and that I have a place to belong.” —Corey, Guest

  • “I’m grateful that we’re not just a staff that works together – we’ve slowly become a member of this family that cares for each other and sticks up for each other.” —Phil, Shelter Manager