On December 17th, 2016, more than 20 volunteers gathered at St. Anselm’s to prepare for the 9th annual Christmas street walk, serving the homeless and needy on Vancouver’s Westside. The event culminated a month of activity in the parishes of St. Anselm, St. Philip’s and St. Helen’s, the three churches that make up the Anglicans of West Point Grey Neighbourhood Ministry. The parishes gathered donations from parishioners to make up 30 spectacular gift bags, stuffed full of nutritious food, sundries, hand warmers, and warm winter clothing. Rev. Alex Wilson and Rev. Dr. Pitman Potter (the Neighbourhood Ministry’s clergy leader) sent 4 carloads of volunteers off with prayers and hot chocolate to deliver the gift bags. From the beaches to Dunbar, Point Grey to Granville, and everywhere in between, within a few hours, the donations were in the hands of our most needy neighbours, and once again, volunteers felt transformed, humbled by the experience of serving God in this way.
The Neighbourhood Ministry is a street outreach program now in its 9th year. Volunteers from the 3 parishes provide care and companionship each Saturday morning to those living homeless on Vancouver’s Westside. Volunteers provide one-on-one assistance to people trying to access and navigate government services for which they are eligible – such as income and disability assistance, housing, and bus passes. The Neighbourhood Ministry works closely with BC Housing, and has been successful in securing permanent, affordable housing for dozens of local homeless people. Volunteers also provide support and community activities for a local Supportive Housing complex – the Dunbar Apartments – managed by Coast Mental Health.
In January, the Neighbourhood Ministry, in partnership with the UBC School of Medicine and UBC School of Social Work, began a Mobile Care Unit program. The “MCU” as it is called, offers basic medical care and social service support in an integrated way. The team currently visits 3 sites on Vancouver’s Westside - St. Mary’s in Kerrisdale, St. Augustine’s in Marpole, and the Kitsilano Shower’s Program - where homeless and needy people gather weekly for a community meal and companionship.
New volunteers are always welcome, and there are many ways to serve and experience God’s love through our neighbours’ eyes. Contact Rev. Dr. Pitman Potter, for more information.
The volunteers and clergy leaders with the spectacular gift bags