There was a special guest speaker during the announcements section prior to the 9:15am Celebration of the Eucharist at St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale (SMK) on Sunday, April 28th, 2013. It was Jonathan Oldman, Executive Director, St. James Community Service Society (SJCSS) who on behalf of the President of the Board of Directors, Marleen Morris was at St. Mary’s to thank the community for their generous gift to the Powell Place re-building project.
Prior to and during St. Mary’s Centennial Celebrations in 2011 the community wanted very much to mark their centennial by doing more than just raising money for things that would benefit the congregation, the buildings and the infrastructure of the parish. They wanted to reach out beyond their faith community and neighbourhood and tackle substantial initiatives. For their local outreach component they chose to raise money toward the rebuilding of the kitchen in the Powell Place facility on the downtown eastside. The Powell Place emergency shelter for women located at 329 Powell Street has been moved to a temporary location at 625 Powell Street until the resources have been gathered to re-build on the original site. The rebuilding of Powell Place will help end women’s homelessness in Vancouver by increasing the number of emergency shelter beds from 26 to 52. With the expansion and improvement of the space, SJCSS will also work to increase its resources to create and maintain programs where women who have had very difficult lives or have suffered recent catastrophic events will be able to put their lives back together, acquiring new skills and new confidence within a community, learning from shared experience.
The message that Jonathan Oldman brought to St, Mary’s on the morning of April 28th is that the money has been raised and the project is a go. For Jonathan and the SJCSS folks every woman deserves a permanent home of their own. No woman should sleep out in the wet and cold in imminent and consistent danger.
Two years ago there was an ambitious plan but no money and although many have helped along the way, Jonathan focused on the generosity of the St. Mary’s community who were leaders in the campaign to raise 4.5 million dollars in the pre-construction phase. According to Jonathan the support of St. Mary’s was extraordinarily influential in getting the help of all three levels of government and other high profile and influential donors. The $152,486 raised by St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale to be dedicated to the kitchen of Powell Place was foundational to the subsequent fundraising over the years that has resulted in the ability to begin the project and in the near future complete what was two years ago, a dream.
In the photo we see the cheque being presented and an overflowing soup pot of healthy ingredients.