By Joan Stewart
The Annual Meeting of the Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry (WANM) was held via Zoom on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, with 27 attendees from the parishes of St. Anselm’s, St. Helen’s, St. Philip’s and St. John’s Shaughnessy.
The meeting began at 7pm, with WANM clergy leader Rev’d. Pitman Potter being asked by Rev’d. John Stephens, chair of WANM, to open the meeting with a prayer. Rev’d. Potter led with an inspiring prayer of hope for the ministry and the world during this challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rev’d. Potter then gave a recap of the WANM’s 13 years of service on Vancouver’s westside. He noted that this would be his last annual meeting as clergy leader of the WANM, due to his retirement. Rev’d. Potter stressed that his service with the WANM had been the high point of his deaconate ministry and he thanked all the volunteers, who throughout the years have served, as well as those who continue to serve. He stressed that this was a transitional time for WANM and hoped that this ministry would go forward with a vision that was mindful of the past, but not confined by it, forging new paths and experiences. He expressed heartfelt thanks for having witnessed the transformational way in which the ministry had touched all those involved.
Rev’d. Stephens then honoured the contributions of Rev’d. Dr. Pitman Potter and Vicki Potter, operations lead, who has also retired from her position to focus on one-on-one support with vulnerable neighbours. Rev’d. Stephens lauded both the Potters for their work and service to the ministry and expressed regret that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans that had been in place for a gala send-off, with Bishop Melissa in attendance, had been shelved for a future date.
Words of thanks were also expressed to the Potters by Joan Stewart, St. John’s Shaughnessy; Shirin Theophilus, St. Anselm’s; Rev’d. Karin Fulcher, St. John’s Shaughnessy; and Rev’d. Stuart Hallam, St. Philip’s.
Rev’d. Stephens then outlined the newly configured Neighbourhood Ministry Board of Management, consisting of 4 rectors and 4 parish liaisons as follows:
St. John’s Shaughnessy: Rev’d. John Stephens—Chair; Joan Stewart, Co-Chair & Parish Liaison. St. Anselm’s: Rev’d. Alex Wilson; Shirin Theophilus, Parish Liaison. St. Helen’s: Rev’d. Scott Gould; Bryan Henderson, Parish Liaison. St. Philip’s: Rev’d. Stuart Hallam; Rhona Thornton, Parish Liaison.
Rev’d. Stephens detailed that the Board of Management would be in control of the ministry, but would be under the umbrella of St. Philip’s, as it has been for the past four years. As St. Philip’s is a registered charity, this ministry falls under its ultimate responsibility, but the Board of Management (Parish Liaisons and Rectors) will be responsible for day-to-day operations.
A thank-you was expressed to Beth Vondette, whose two-year contract as administrative and communication coordinator had come to an end. Vicki Potter, who had been Beth’s supervisor, expressed personal thanks for Beth’s work and the administrative systems she created, which have been especially helpful to the ministry.
Rhona Thornton, St. Philip’s, then provided information on the COVID-19 Program that had been instituted as a result of the suspension of the regular Street Outreach Program; Dunbar Apartment luncheon events; and Mobile Care Unit activities. These programs had been temporarily replaced with a Food and Clothing Drive; partnering with Kits Cares and St. Augustine’s community meals and two downtown shelters.
Vicki Potter also noted that during the COVID-19 lockdown, Dr. Janet McKeown and Dr. Stephanie Chu had offered to see clients virtually, starting with phone calls and following up with any needed in-person visits to their clinic. The doctors also offered services to Kits Cares, St. Augustine’s and several of the modular home complexes on the westside, which demonstrated their incredible level of commitment to the ministry.
Shirin Theophilus, St. Anselm’s, expressed thanks to Doug & Heather Friesen, who had collected and distributed a carload of clothing to the Coal Harbour shelter on behalf of the parishioners at St. Anselm’s.
Rhona Thornton, St. Philip’s, reported that to-date, the Food & Clothing Drive had been able to deliver at least 10 carloads of clothing to the shelters, as well as weekly food deliveries to Kits Cares and St. Augustine’s.
Bryan Henderson, St. Helen’s, then presented the highlights of the 2020 WANM Budget, which included receipt of a Vancouver City Grant of $26,600. Details of the grant can be seen in the News section of the website.
Joan Stewart, St. John’s Shaughnessy, provided an overview of the City Grant and thanked Vicki and Bryan for their work on the grant application. She noted that the grant would be used to hire a professional volunteer and program manager to oversee training, partnerships and communications. Pre COVID-19, the plan had been to have the new hire in place during the summer, but that date was now moved to the fall.
Vicki Potter expressed that it had been a wonderful team effort to apply for the grant and stressed that the requirement of the grant was not to simply sustain the current WANM program but propel it to the next level. She expressed pleasure that she was leaving the program with a solid financial platform.
The Neighbourhood Ministry’s volunteers were then celebrated and acknowledged as follows:
Street Outreach: The Rev’d. Stuart Hallam, St. Philip’s, expressed thanks to the volunteers for all that they do, and described his joy at witnessing love in action during his experience with the Street Outreach ministry.
Mary Lymburner, St. Philip’s, spoke on the pleasure of going out in a team and the relationships formed through meeting those on the street and forming a connection that allowed volunteers to say “hello” in other contexts.
Peg Gabor, St. Anselm’s, thanked Vicki for the mentorship she had provided at the start of her Street Outreach ministry.
Indoor Teams: Shirin Theophilus, St. Anselm’s, thanked the indoor team volunteers and expressed the dedication of the members to this ministry. Vicki Potter recognized Irene James from St. Helen’s, who has been the indoor team coordinator at this parish for at least a decade and was a true inspiration for the program.
Mobile Care Unit (MCU): Vicki Potter reported that the MCU had completed its 4th year. At MCU sites, basic medical care is provided by Dr. Janet McKeown and/or Dr. Stephanie Chu, along with a team of interns from the UBC Medical Clinic. Vicki expressed thanks to Dr. Janet and the medical team for their commitment to the program. Alongside the doctors at MCU sites are a team of highly trained volunteers and social work students who complete applications for housing, replacement IDs, Birth Certificates and other social services.
Rev’d. Potter encouraged the WANM to continue its connection with the schools of social work and medicine at UBC, as this relationship was beneficial to the students and the populace that the WANM serves.
Dunbar Events: Joan Stewart thanked all the volunteers who attended and helped at the special luncheon events at Dunbar, which is suspended because of the COVID-19. Thanks, were also expressed to the members of the St. Anselm’s choir who have regularly attended special Dunbar events and encouraged uplifting sing-alongs.
Janice Hope & Suzie Noetzel, St. Philip’s, expressed thanks that their teenage children were able to attend the events and how much they enjoyed participating and volunteering at Dunbar events.
Vicki Potter also expressed thanks for all the tax preparation that Joan Stewart had provided to residents of Dunbar and other Coast Housing facilities.
Rev’d Potter stressed that the entire WANM program was designed as a lateral hierarchical model in which all components: Indoor teams; Street Outreach; Mobile Care Unit; and Dunbar Program; were equally important.
Joanne Vondette expressed thanks to Pitman and Vicki for their visionary leadership in creating the overall program and shared her experiences as a volunteer.
Rhona Thornton then thanked Rev’d. Stephens for stepping up as chair of the Board of Management and providing the necessary leadership for the program’s continuity.
Rev’d. Stephens then spoke of the year ahead and gave thanks for the ministry, all it had accomplished over the past 13 years and the many lives that had been touched and transformed by it. A special thank-you was again expressed to Pitman and Vicki Potter for all they had done over the years, with Joan Stewart asking everyone to give a round of applause to Vicki & Pitman.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:35pm by the Rev’d. John Stephens, who offered a prayer of thanks for the WANM and blessings to supporters, volunteers and all those whom this ministry serves.