Free Easter Meals Boosted the Morale and Hope of Those Displaced By Fire on Downtown East Side

Free Easter Meals Boosted the Morale and Hope of Those Displaced ones

It had been many hours since Doug McInnes last ate something when he was offered a warm meal by staff who was serving up Union Gospel Mission’s annual Easter services.

One person became homeless out of 71 on Monday when a fire destroyed a single-room-occupancy winter’s Hotel that person who is 55-years of age felt relieved to set his cane on a bench outside the Downtown Eastside shelter and dig into the feast.

“I have been helplessly wandering around for the last few days trying to find clothes, phone, or any other form of help,” said Doug McInnes, who had also undergone the pain of transplanting a kidney seven months ago, “I was not feeling well, I have to walk all day around without having any specific destination to go, but this food is giving me a lot of energy.“

Another 73 inhabitants of the neighboring Gastown Hotel have also been displaced from their rooms because of the poisonous smoke and water damage from the flames.

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“We lost everything we had because of this accident,” said McInnes, shivering from the cold.

As early as 9. am people stood in lines beside the 101 East Hastings St. shelter in wait for UGM’s services. By noon, a total of 300 meals to the people had been distributed.

This effort was on the part of mission staff who planned to hand out 2,400 meals across Metro Vancouver this weekend after preparing 425 pounds of scalloped potatoes, 1,300 pounds of ham,160 liters of gravy, and 400 pounds of vegetables, and apple pies.

The meals arrangement was made on this scale given the tragedies of the past years which led to an increase in the meals by 400 servings, said Rachael Allen, spokesperson for UGM. “It has been hard for everyone.”

McInnes and many other evacuees are waiting for replacement housing; all the residents from 0 to 100 blocks of East Hastings Streets have not received mail for three weeks since Canada postponed services because of safety reasons.

The postal service “has potentially bad repercussions” for those residents who depend on government cheques or gifts from relatives and friends to pay rent or meet other expenses, said Anna Cooper, staff lawyer for the Pivot Legal Society.

Kevin Doig, who was standing in line waiting for a meal on Saturday, questioned how they going to receive assistance from the government if not by mail.

“However they will be given welfare cheques on April 27. Easter is difficult for folks down here because there is a huge gap of five weeks in welfare payments this time of year.  People are in a really serious need,” the 63-year-old man said.

Apart from meals, UGM is committed to providing emergency shelter, career development counseling, education, outreach, addiction recovery, and more help to those fighting against poverty, addiction, and homelessness.

Francis Kahn

Francis Kahn is a freelance journalist who joined recently. With an eye for spotting interesting news bits, he composes raw materials in short bites, ensuring that whatever will be published on the website is important and well-curated

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