On Saturday, July 26, Union Gospel Mission’s biggest annual event returns! The “backyard” BBQ for the Downtown Eastside community takes place in Crab Park and is made possible thanks to Vancouver-based Concert Properties. Having also been the title sponsor last year, Concert will not only provide the majority of funds required to serve the 5,000 meals; they will provide 100 volunteers as well.
The community event offers a host of family-friendly activities such as a bouncy castle, face painting, a myriad of mini-carnival games, and of course, cotton candy. Kids and adults alike can enjoy the music and delicious food. Like UGM’s other large community meals, the BBQ helps make the season fun and memorable for so many who struggle day to day. But its potential impact is actually much more profound. UGM meals are a chance for those struggling with homelessness, addiction and chronic poverty to connect with UGM outreach workers, and to become acquainted with the assistance available to them.
Jennifer, a graduate of UGM’s Women’s Recovery Program, is a perfect example of how a community meal can be the start of transformation. At the lowest point in her life, while she was broken, barely coherent and living on the streets, Jennifer was brought to UGM for Thanksgiving dinner. While there, she got connected, and it wasn’t long before she entered UGM’s recovery program, found her sobriety, and a few years later got her son back. Last month she spoke at the opening of UGM’s Sanctuary Program. Her two sons were at her side, thriving in school and in her household.
Thanks to businesses like Concert Properties, this year’s BBQ offers that chance for more “Jennifers” to get connected to the help they need.
“Giving back has been part of Concert’s DNA from the very beginning,” says Brian McCauley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Concert Properties. “Within every aspect of our organization – and with the enthusiastic support of very member of the Concert team – we work to make a difference in our community whether that’s through in-kind donations, direct financial support or all-staff volunteer days with socially-minded organizations.”
During the company's 25 years, Concert has donated funds for community gardens and parks, held pancake breakfasts for area residents, built homes for Habitat for Humanity, and volunteered for several non-profit building projects.
“We always say, miracles begin with a meal,” explains UGM President Bill Mollard. “Many of those who struggle in our community have lost trust and lost hope. When we meet a tangible need we build a connection — and that connect can be the start that transforms a life. We are so thankful to Concert for helping make this day possible.”