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Homeless Facts

In the 2008 Homeless Count there were AT LEAST 3,062 people homeless in Metro Vancouver.

Since 2002, there has been a shocking 137% increase in overall homelessness and a 373% increase in the number of people sleeping outside. /.

Message from Ric Matthews

You helped make it happen – you are what happened. Thank you!

This morning at 9am in Vancouver we saw the visible confirmation on the web that we had finished first and qualified for $25,000 in the  refresheverything competition.  One by one and day by day hundreds of people from all across the world took time to make a difference. Each vote each day by each individual added further impetus to an irresistible momentum. Each email, each facebook message, each simple face-to-face conversation that encouraged a friend or family member to vote propelled us onwards. You did this. We did this. Individually and together we clicked on computers and brought a community to life. We became a community – a community that included people who are homeless in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, and people who live in suburban homes on each of five continents; a community of all ages, genders, races, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and social circumstance. Together, one by one, we took the dream we supported and became it. We supported a vision and discovered we were living what we were reaching for.

You helped make it happen – you are what happened. Thank you!

We did far more than win a grant of $25,000. The momentum evoked other contributions: $35,000 from organisations like Face the World Foundation, the Hieros Foundation and the Schein Foundation; and $17,000 from individual donors. But more than providing capital in dollars it delivered social capital. An investment of people of themselves. The 24 hours in which the world watched in awe as 33 miners were freed from the dark to the light (each unknown and previously un-noticed man becoming a name and a personal story), left us all more human, more alive. The 2 months in which you and many others joined in a common vision and commitment (determined to save a storage facility for people who most of us do not know) leave us different, alive to possibility and to Hope. The strangers we sought to support, became a part of our daily life. We stood (or sat at Computers) side by side with those we did not know and likely will never meet.  We embraced each other’s needs and celebrated each other’s contribution. Each of us knew “I cannot make a difference in this outcome without many others also having the same dedication to vote regularly – On my own I cannot make this happen”. We also each knew that “My vote is a critical piece of the whole – if all the ‘I’s” stop voting we will not save the storage facility”.  We knew we needed each other – and we knew ‘they need me’. We did this amazing thing because all the “you’s” and the “I’s” became a “We”.   We knew deeply and profoundly that as we committed to others being able to be more human, we became more human. We knew that “my humanity is fundamentally dependent on your humanity”. We touched and were touched by what Desmond Tutu calls “Ubuntu”.

Now our challenge lies in what we do with this momentum; how to direct and free the Hope to which we have given life. I am sure that what we have done together will continue to inspire us personally. I know it will spill into the lives of people who live in our homes and neighbourhoods. I dream that it will also draw us even more deeply into the community life at First United. Regardless of where you live, you have become part of this community – a member of this ridiculously hopeful family.

If you are not already on the mailing list, please consider sending us your contact details. (You can contact – And  I hasten to add, its your heart we need, not your money).

If you live within an hour of 320 East Hastings, please consider joining us on a Wednesday evening over supper (5.45pm to 7pm) or for the meals on Christmas day.

And whatever else you do, please forward this message to all those you asked to also vote over the past 2 months. You like they, have made a difference! You should know that one by one together, we want to thank you – just you! And especially you!

Ric Matthews

First United Church: Executive Minister

Executive assistant: Shelley Heinricks ()
Tel: (91) 604 681 8365  * 118