Locally, St. John’s has provided chaplaincy support to the nearby Vancouver Hospital, BC’s largest tertiary care facility, both by a significant commitment of money and through the daily pastoral visitations of our former Rector. We support the nearby Anglican care facility for seniors called St. Jude’s Anglican Home. We are also helping St Helen’s Anglican Church with the costs of sponsoring a large family of refugees from Syria.
The Neighbourhood Ministry is a collaborative ministry offered by the Anglican parishes of St Anselm’s, St Philip’s, St Helen’s, and St John’s Shaughnessy on Vancouver’s Westside. Under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Pitman Potter, the Neighbourhood Ministry is in its 9th year of offering care, companionship and practical help to our most vulnerable neighbours living on the Westside streets and in marginalized conditions.
At the core of the Neighbourhood Ministry is its street outreach program. Parishes collect non-perishables and basic necessities, which are packed up and distributed by teams of 3-5 people (one from each parish) to homeless folk on the Westside every Saturday morning, year-round. The greatest gift is that of conversation and companionship, and those living on the street have developed a trust in Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers. This ministry initiative transforms the lives of everyone involved – those who donate to the packets, those who pack them up, those who deliver them and our homeless neighbours who receive them – by fostering friendship and understanding.
Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers help build community at the Supportive Housing apartments at 17th and Dunbar. Dunbar Apartments offers housing to formerly homeless people from the area – many of whom were referred by the Neighbourhood Ministry – as well as those suffering from mental illness. Volunteers at Dunbar serve dinner on the weekends and offer seasonal celebrations for building residents. In addition, volunteers offer one-on-one assistance that ranges from accompanying residents to medical appointments to pastoral care. The Neighbourhood Ministry contributes funding toward a breakfast program.
In 2017, the Mobile Care Unit (MCU) was launched in partnership with the UBC Schools of Medicine and Social Work. The MCU is a travelling team who provides basic medical care and social services to homeless and low-income populations in our neighbourhood who may face barriers to care. The team is comprised of doctors, medical students, social work students, and Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers. They visit three sites about 8 times per month, sites where homeless and needy neighbours gather for community meals. Currently, this includes visits to the Kitsilano Showers for the Homeless program (Saturdays), St. Mary’s Kerrisdale (Tuesdays), and St. Augustine’s Marpole (Thursdays). Volunteers assist in any way they can to help clients access resources and services available.
The Neighbourhood Ministry has ‘angels’ to help with supporting the people we serve. Volunteer angels are paired with clients who require extra support in accessing services for which they are eligible. Angels play a significant role in supplementing services done by the Mobile Care Unit, working behind the scenes to advocate for and assist clients.
Funding for the Neighbourhood Ministry activities is shared by the four sponsor parishes. Parishes donate items-in-kind, provide financial support, and the bulk of volunteers. Over the years, neighbours and friends not associated with the churches have joined as volunteers, to be part of this special and life-changing ministry.
There are many ways to support the Neighbourhood Ministry. You are warmly welcome to join us!
Neighbourhood Ministry Packet Wish List
- Boost or Ensure Nutrition Drink
- Juice Boxes
- Tinned Meat
- Soft granola bars (avoid items with nuts
- and raisins as they are hard on the teeth)
- Fruit Cups and plastic spoons
- Disposable Razors
- Sundries (small bottles of shampoo, conditioner)
- non-fragrant lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush)
Regionally, we support the Outreach ministries of the Diocese of New Westminster through prayer, volunteer time, and our regular Parish apportionment, which provide important pastoral care to many people including the homeless in the downtown Eastside area of Vancouver (see the Diocesan website for further details).
Nationally and internationally, we contribute to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund of the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as to the overseas ministries of the National church and its programs supporting indigenous justice within Canada.