The Union Gospel Mission (UGM) will be serving 1,200 meals to those in need while adhering to physical distancing guidelines this Easter weekend.
UGM will be serving 650 pounds of ham, 450 pounds of scalloped potatoes, 125 litres of sauce, and 400 pounds of mixed vegetables ‘to go’ over the course of the entire weekend, rather than during one large sit-down meeting.
Instead of the usual hundreds of volunteers helping out for the single Easter meal, only a handful of staff and volunteers will be around this weekend.
One of those volunteers this year is 38-year-old Matt Amy.
After years of homelessness in Vancouver, Matt is planning to spend this Easter helping others at the annual UGM meal.
“I didn’t feel worthy when I was homeless,” says Matt. “I felt like a burden on the whole world. Nobody loved me… now I’m part of a ‘hand of hope’ during a pandemic. It’s incredible.”
At the age of 25, Matt was hit by a car and suffered from serious head injuries. As a way to self-medicate, he began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, which eventually led him down a path of homelessness.
If it wasn’t for a meal at UGM, he could’ve remained homeless to this day.
Matt had initially visited for a meal and ended up completing UGM’s recovery program. He is now five years sober and is an integral part of the organization’s staff, working in maintenance and custodial. He currently sanitizes UGM’s life-saving facilities and ensures that guests have safe and clean spaces to find refuge in amidst the pandemic.
“I know the pandemic changes things but to have somewhere for people that are alone to come, it’s huge,” says Matt. “Changing lives and giving hope. That’s why I’m still here. It changed my life.”
The Easter meals will be served throughout the weekend, between 10:45 and 11:15 am.
Although they’re serving fewer Easter meals than in previous years, UGM is increasing total weekly meals by more than 33% to meet the public’s needs and to fill gaps left by other organizations that have been forced to close.