When New Westminster resident Rodger Konkle serves Easter dinner to many homeless or disadvantaged people this weekend at the local Union Gospel Mission, hell be helping himself, too.
Four years ago Konkle says he was struggling to stay sober and find meaning in his life. But since discovering an opportunity to help others in a similar position, his life has turned around.
Volunteering at UGM gives me purpose that I didnt have before, he wrote in a recent press release. When I was recovering from alcoholism I didnt want to get up in the morning. Today, Im at peace with myself. I sincerely love interacting with people and showing them that they are loved.
Konkle, 64, is a retired government worker who dutifully arrives every morning at the Union Gospel Mission to help prepare and serve over 150 hot breakfasts and 200 bowls of lunchtime soup.
He knows the value of being able to share a meal with others and having a chance to be heard.
Many people who have experienced trauma, broken trust, poverty and addiction come to join us for an Easter meal that will not only satisfy the physical need for food, but the emotional need for company and help, explained UGM New Westminster manager Bill Wong.
For some guests, speaking to others is too difficult, but thats where Konkles golden lab, Isla often steps in.
The dog usually has to stay in her owners van until a UGM guest volunteers to take her for a walk, but she rarely has to wait for long.
Some guests wont talk to you or me, said Konkle, but theyll talk to Isla. They sit on a curb, tears coming down their face, and share their story with her. Shes an outlet where they can get it out. Isla is an amazing therapy dog. She listens. If you talk to her, she cocks her head.
At the Easter dinner this Saturday, guests will enjoy a free meal and live music.
On the menu there will be:
- 240 lbs of ham
- 100 lbs of scalloped potatoes
- 18 litres of pineapple sauce
- 75 lbs of mixed vegetables
- 66 apple pies
- 56 litres of ice cream
- buttered buns
The Union Gospel Mission Easter dinner will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, at 658 Clarkson Street. Doors open at noon. UGM will serve over 3,000 meals that day at four locations in Metro Vancouver.
The UGM has been serving meals and working to improve the lives of men, women and children for over 70 years in Metro Vancouver. The UGM offers counseling, education, safe housing and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction.
For more information about the UGM or the Easter dinner, visit www.ugm.ca.