Today, April 22, 2009, marks the 80th anniversary of Hope Mission in Edmonton, and tonight we celebrated this milestone with a banquet dinner that was put on by Hope Mission's food staff. In 1929, Hope Mission started as a soup kitchen by a Reverend and his wife. Now it has grown to 7 buildings, numerous life-changing programs, emergency services, summer camps, youth programs and so much more.
The Premiere of Alberta Ed Stelmach and his wife Marie attended this evening's event. The Premiere spoke passionately about his 10-year plan to end homelessness in Alberta. Combining a 10-year plan with the community services provided by nonprofit organizations like Hope Mission adds strength and hope for a solution, and currently this plan is the only 10-year plan Canada has in motion.
Although there have been some rumblings about Alberta's deficit and some uncertainty about the 10-year plan being initiated, the Premiere's passionate speech and that of the Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Yvonne Fritz suggests that this plan is going through. There are plans for affordable housing for the homeless, plus programs to help them succeed in staying off the streets. The latter is a key element.
The stories shared by recovery graduates at the banquet were especially touching, reminding everyone of why Hope Mission exists. Tanya shared her story of abuse and addictions, and how the people at Hope Mission helped her turn her life around. We heard stories from some of the men who were being honored for hitting milestones in the recovery program. Every one of them shared how alone they felt, how lost they were--until they walked through Hope Mission's doors and into the welcoming atmosphere that is provided by everyone there.
My brother Jason was in my thoughts and heart tonight. He used some of Hope Mission's services, and after Jasons's murder in 2006 I felt drawn to become involved with the Mission. Tonight as I watched a group of 20+ men cross the stage to receive their recovery certificate, I wished that Jason had made it this far, but he was never given the chance. Someone took it from him. It's too late for Jason, but it's not too late for every homeless person living on our streets today.
About 800 people attended the banquet. 800 people from all walks of life. 800 people who were raised in very different families. 800 people who were educated in different cities and towns. 800 people who are connected to the Mission in many different ways. 800 people who came together to celebrate that Hope is alive in Edmonton and that we care.
Even though times are tough, even though jobs are unstable, there is Hope. I invite you to find a way to celebrate Earth Day by making it "Hope Month". Celebrate Hope in humanity by helping those in your communities who are less fortunate than you--because there is ALWAYS someone less fortunate. For the rest of April, please consider donating clothing, household items, personal care items, food, funds or your time as a volunteer to a mission like Hope Mission.
One final note: If you can find a copy of Whale Song in any bookstore or online (it's out of print, but some stores or online retailers may still have it), please know that when you buy this novel, a percentage of my royalties goes to Hope Mission. I will be doubling that amount for the remaining royalties from this edition. I will be pledging a new amount when I have secured the movie deal and 3rd print edition, which are in the works for Whale Song.
Check out Hope Mission's website and the Hope Mission blog.
To donate to Hope Mission, please go HERE.
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, a proud Edmonton author