Extreme weather is felt most intensely by those struggling without consistent shelter. As summer progresses and the heat intensifies, Union Gospel Mission is seeking to replenish its hot weather supplies to provide protection to those in need from the sun’s rays and heat.
To view UGM’s list of needs visit: www.ugm.ca/mostneeded
“Most of us don’t really experience the intensity of the heat,” explains Bruce Curtiss, UGM Senior Chaplain who oversees Outreach. “We have significant control over our surroundings and our mobility. If we get too much sun or heat, we can stay indoors, apply the proper treatment, and we probably have loved-ones nearby able to help us.
Curtiss explains that for those living on the streets or struggling with extreme poverty, the situation is often much different.
“You just don’t have the same option—by a longshot. If you’re trying to make head-way at all, you’re probably stuck outdoors in line-up. If you sleep in a shelter, you’re generally outdoors from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Many of the working families we see have basic housing, but there’s no air conditioning and poor ventilation. The income doesn’t even stretch enough for food, let alone novelties like sunscreen, aloe or extra clothing. Those who are chronically homeless are in survival mode. For each one of those groups, we’re trying to foster prevention.”
UGM will distribute the supplies numerous ways. First, at their facilities based on individual needs-assessment as items become available. If supplies are available, on the hottest days, bottled water is distributed after the meals, so community members have water for the day. Secondly, UGM distributes supplies during “Street Walks”, when outreach workers walk the streets, reaching out to those in need, not only handing out supplies where needed, but promoting awareness on how to stay safe in the heat.
The response from the public has been encouraging. An anonymous donor has committed to providing over 150 cases of water, while the Red Cross, is attempting to source much more. A local business, MyPakage, that specializes in men’s underwear, has expressed they will donate much-needed underwear as well.
UGM is grateful to the Metro Vancouverites who have come (and will come) through their doors to drop off supplies, thereby providing tangible help for those who are currently struggling.
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women and children for over 70 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit www.ugm.ca.
Written by Keela Keeping from Union Gospel Mission for Vancity Buzz.
Images: Andrew Taran, UGM