Message from John Wolff, Board Chair
Managing an organization like SUMS is sometimes “like drinking out of a fire hose”. Sometimes, you put out fires, sometimes you quench a thirst and sometimes you just get drenched.
No day is a like – with each new day different challenges arise that are all part of life at SUMS in Surrey Whalley. For our staff and volunteers, acceptance of people where they are at in their situations is essential. If all we do is help feed them and let them survive one more day, that is an accomplishment. And when they don’t show up for a meal, we worry what has happened to them. There are many fires to put out each day – it is just part of the human condition that we serve.
But the majority of the time life at the mission is positive. Our guests are happy, respectful and so grateful for the meal and fellowship and that is why we exist. Sometimes, we have real success for our guests – a new job or permanent housing, a birthday or entry into detox. These are all times of celebration and pride. There are those times too when you just have to acknowledge that this work will never end. That is when you have to stop yourself and the organization from getting “drenched”. That is when you must set your priorities and focus on what you can do well with the resources and abilities you have.
For SUMS we did exactly that. The Board sat down and recognized that we were spreading ourselves too thin and needed to re-focus our work on what we could do within our human, financial and physical resources. Our core mission focusses on helping those in poverty through the provision of food and clothing and looking to build collaborative relationships with other organizations who can also help and support our guests.
That core review has been successful as we have seen positive changes at the mission. Food is our cornerstone and with the help of so many we have achieved our short term goal of lunch 5 days/week, breakfast indoors 7 days/week and Dinner every Sunday. Today, SUMS serves approx. 8,500 meals each month.
For people who are homeless, clothing and toiletries are a challenge. We have enhanced our clothing program and, thanks to ordinary citizens, donations are coming through our door every day – not just at Christmas time.
Can we do more, should we do more, of course the answer to that is always yes. We must also remember that with all we are doing, we are still only providing band aids. Efforts and resources must also be focussed on dealing with the root causes of the challenges our guests have. All of us need to be active and vocal in our communities and with our political leaders in helping them understand the issues and encouraging them to take action. These issues require a focus and resourcing to make changes happen.
With a little help from all our donors, corporate and community, we will continue to help the growing epidemic of poverty, addiction and mental illness that is part of the fabric of Surrey Whalley, and many other communities.
Thank you to all who walked, virtually walked and donated to our 2016 Coldest Night of the Year. It certainly wasn’t the coldest night but it was a lot of fun. With your help we raised over our goal for a grand total of $26,500. Additional cheques can go directly to SUMS to receive a tax receipt.
A very special thanks to Barb Davison, who has been a tireless volunteer for the mission. Barb stepped up and helped us organize the Coldest Night of the Year event this year yielding thousands of dollars to help us help others. Thanks Barb.
Thoughts from Pastor Roland Ziprick
One Monday, I went for my usual walk along the dike system just north of Maple Ridge; it was a beautiful and sunny day. Needless to say, I had a wonderful walk and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Lo and behold, as I walked, look at what I stumbled upon!
I am no flower expert, but I think those are crocuses; I do remember the occasional crocus blooming in spring as I grew up on the prairies. Of course, the crocus is a sign of spring, of new beginnings, of new growth. The sheer beauty of the crocus, in an unexpected place, added to the joy of my walk. Ah…. spring! I know this is a little early, as spring does not officially arrive until late March, but the crocuses brought spring into my consciousness.
Spring is a wonderful time of year, a time when the world that was asleep under a blanket of snow, or under grey skies, comes to life. New life springs up from the dead of winter and it is truly invigorating. People get outside, they revel in more sunshine; they enjoy and notice the color, particularly the green that “springs up.”
It is probably no coincidence that the season of Easter occurs in the spring. Aside from the actual dating of the resurrection of Christ, it is an appropriate time. Spring, a time of greenery and new life, coincides with the resurrection, a time of new life.
A time of new life? Yes! The resurrection occurs, spiritual life is renewed, and spiritual life must grow. This is the work of Surrey Urban Mission Society. “Easter” is at the heart of our mission and purpose. Easter is about the resurrection, of new life, of hope springing up out of the cold and darkness. We are an “Easter community,” an “Easter society.”
What does that mean for us to be an “Easter community,” an “Easter society?” How does Easter get “lived out” at SUMS? We serve meals, lots and lots of meals. As we serve meals we don’t just fill stomachs, we offer a glimpse of Easter, of hope. We provide a place for people to gather; as they gather to live in relationship with our staff and each other, we hope such companionship gives them strength for the journey. We provide extreme weather housing, warm clothing and many other things which we hope give those who need, a sense of being cared for, of being valued, of being loved. Ours is a spiritual task, to make Easter happen throughout the year. Along the way, it is nice to have reminders of our mission and purpose and for that we give thanks!
Calling all Faith and Service Groups
Would your Faith or Service Group like to serve? SUMS relies on the grace of people to step up and help those living in poverty and homeless in Surrey.
Cash donations are needed and appreciated. Donation cheques can now be made out directly to Surrey Urban Mission or SUMS to receive a tax receipt.
And there are so many other ways to help. At SUMS we are always in need of mens’ clothing – socks, shoes and pants.
Our SUMS Friends, Our SUMS Family
Lets’ get personal. I would like to introduce you to one of our guests at Surrey Urban Mission. Cliff, just turned 84 years young and talking to him you know he is young at heart and has a zest for his life. Cliff recalls the “good old days”, when he was working as a Security Guard. Now retired and living on a small pension, Cliff has been unable to find permanent housing. Still he is grateful to live at Surrey’s winter shelter – temporary housing for now.
Every day for breakfast and lunch Cliff comes to SUMS. He comes for more than a meal, he comes to socialize, see his pals, and of course tease Mike, June and Sally Ann – he is a joy to have around. He is part of our family. But all is not sugar and spice with Cliff, he takes no guff and allows no disrespectful talk at his mission. He harkens back to his working life as a Security Guard and even helps in that vein at the Mission, ensuring that everything is orderly. And he doesn’t hold back when things aren’t quite right. Like the time the paper towel dispenser in the washroom was broken. Cliff took us to task – “people need paper towel in the washroom – get on it”.
Cliff is proud of his appearance and comes to the Mission to clean up and shave. Cliff isn’t new to the area, Surrey Whalley is his home and has been for most of his life. Life is challenging on the street especially with the rainy windy weather. If only for a few hours a day, we can help people like Cliff feel warm, comfortable, connected and cared for, that means a lot. Just ask Cliff and the 200 others like Cliff that we provide food and fellowship for every day at SUMS.
Thanks, Again and Again
Thanks to all our Corporate Donors for your support. A special shout out to Rick Diamond and the Diamond Foundation for all that you do.
Thanks to Tim Bailey and all the Firefighters that step up and help us with the Bread delivery. And of course, Cobbs Bread – just an outstanding corporate donor that keeps us in bread every day.
Many thanks to Surrey Central Lions Club and the Leo’s provided Sunday dinner this month for our guests. A fun barbeque dinner was enjoyed by our guests.
After a tweet out about men’s clothing so many stepped up and brought clothes. So very appreciated and needed during the cold and wet weather. Special thank you to Ron Gaudette and the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club for stepping up and helping us with clothes for the guys.
Wonderful surprise on Saturday morning when the Mannkind Foundation brought in a huge array of baked goods from Costco.