How Whole Way House cares for Downtown Eastside residents during the pandemic

Dec 12 2020, 12:57 am

A Downtown Eastside charitable society is feeding and supporting hundreds of vulnerable people during the pandemic, and it’s looking for help to continue their important work in the community.

Whole Way House, founded by siblings Josh and Jenny Konkin — along with Josh’s wife Mary — in 2013, serves vulnerable seniors and veterans who are facing marginalization, disabilities, addiction issues, and/or mental health issues.

Whole Way House co-founder Jenny Konkin. Photo courtesy Whole Way House

Whole Way House co-founder Jenny Konkin. Photo courtesy Whole Way House

The society also carries on their family’s legacy. Whole Way House is located on the ground floor of the Avalon Hotel, a single room occupancy building that houses approximately 85 low-income tenants in the DTES today.

It was purchased by Mario and Mina Angelicola (Jenny and Josh’s grandparents) in the 1970s and was previously managed by Ron and Tina Konkin (their parents).

Within 48 hours of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Whole Way House was able to develop a meal delivery program to help their seniors self-isolate safely.

With the help of BC Housing, Nature’s Path, The Dirty Apron, Kitchen Table Group, Eden Cafe and several other partners, the society has expanded their program to over 600 low-income seniors, veterans and vulnerable residents in the Downtown Eastside and across the city.

Photo courtesy Whole Way House

Photo courtesy Whole Way House

Since March 17, 2020 they have served more than 100,000 prepared meals to over 600 seniors and residents across 19 buildings operated by non-profit housing providers such as Veterans Memorial Manor, New Chelsea Society, Affordable Housing Society, Union Gospel Mission, and Vancouver Native Housing.

Nature’s Path has recently created a video to celebrate the important work that Whole Way House is doing in the community. It also spotlights the different way that people can help care for and honour the vulnerable seniors

In Partnership with BC Housing, Whole Way House Society also provides community-building programs and tenant support services for 133 vulnerable seniors and veterans living in the Downtown Eastside at the Veterans Manor.

These include monthly family dinners, weekly seated exercise sessions, weekend games, afternoon outings, holiday meals, pet therapy, community garden, and more. (Some activities have been put on hold to follow government guidelines).

Photo courtesy Whole Way House

Photo courtesy Whole Way House

Another program that Whole Way House is spearheading is Boxes of Hope: Seniors’ Secret Santa Project.

“Very special little Elves from the Vancouver Whitecaps” along with the society’s team members will be delivering Christmas presents to over 450 low income seniors and vulnerable residents in the Downtown Eastside and around the city.

Whole Way House is looking for donations of Boxes of Hope, shoeboxes or similar-sized boxes filled with items like Christmas cookies or chocolate, hot drink packets, Christmas socks, mittens and scarves, and a handwritten card with seasons greetings.

Further details and instructions can be found on the Boxes of Hope signup form.

And those who are unable to make a box are encouraged to make a financial donation directly to Whole Way House.

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

+ Venture