The Union Gospel Mission (UGM) will be serving 2,000 meals to those in need in Vancouver while adhering to a pandemic protocol this Easter weekend.
UGM will be preparing over 1,300 pounds of ham, 425 pounds of scalloped potatoes, 150-160 litres of gravy, 400 pounds of vegetables, and 400 pies ‘to go’ over the course of the entire weekend.
Rather than gathering hundreds of people inside its dining hall, a limited number of staff members wearing personal protective equipment will serve meals ‘to go’ out the door.
Hand sanitizer and masks will be provided and physical distancing protocols will be implemented.
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Among the volunteers this year will be Virginia Whalen, a 63-year-old woman whose struggle with homelessness eventually led her to a new calling during an urgent crisis-serving Easter hope in the Downtown Eastside, during the third wave of the pandemic.
“People have lost hope. They’re scared. They don’t know from one day to the next, where they’re going to be or if this pandemic is ever going to end,” Whalen said in a statement from UGM.
“That’s why we need to be here on Easter, showing that there is hope amidst the suffering. I remember what it was like to feel like no one could possibly understand how badly I was hurting.”
Despite previously owning three restaurants, Whalen saw her life unravelling because of alcohol addiction and eventually entered UGM’s The Sanctuary –a stabilization program for women and moms with babies. Now, four years later, she’ll be back at UGM to share her story and help serve hundreds of Easter Meals on Saturday, April 3rd, to others struggling with homelessness, poverty and addiction.
“Virginia’s story reminds us all that we are better together –and that there is immense hope in starting fresh,” says UGM manager Jeremy Hunka, in a release.
“We know this pandemic has been indescribably difficult-but the finish line is on the horizon, and we need to stick through this together, feeding hope along the way.”