COVID contemplations that provide a balm for the spirit
By Joan Stewart Posted September 16, 2020
The Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry’s (WANM) retired deacon and clergy lead the Reverend Dr. Pitman Potter has prepared a timely new book of contemplation and reflection, which is being used as a fundraiser for the WANM.
Entitled Fever Dreams: Contemplating Corona Virus, the book presents 52 spiritual texts selected from Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions, as well as poetic and lyrical voices.
Each selected text is accompanied by suggestions for quiet contemplation, through which readers are invited to engage in Lectio Divina (a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with, and increased knowledge of, God’s word), and to consider the meaning and application of the texts in their lives.
The selections are divided into four groups, according to the meteorological (not astronomical) seasons of the year for Canada: Spring (March-May, a time of awakening); Summer (June-August, a time of growth); Fall (September-November, a time of labour); and Winter (December-February, a time of expectancy).
Each contemplative text is supported by an accompanying photograph selected from Pitman’s personal archive and published for the first time.
Readers are invited to engage with one selection each week, beginning on the week of the season when they first encounter this book, or on the first week of the ensuing season. A handy “Notes” section also allows readers to record their contemplations.
To obtain your own copy for a suggested donation of $20—the entirety of which will go to the Neighbourhood Ministry, as Pitman has provided the publication pro bono—please contact email@example.com or a WANM liaison from one of the following parishes:
St. Anselm’s Anglican Church, Shirin Theophilus: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Helen’s Anglican Church, Bryan Henderson: email@example.com
St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church, Joan Stewart: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Rhona Thornton: email@example.com
Fever Dreams: Contemplating Corona Virus
- Presented by the Rev’d Dr. Pitman B. Potter
- Published by Pro Bono Publicum
- Softcover, spiral bound, 123 pages with colour photographs
“Thank you, Pitman, for this beautiful book of wisdom and faith. You have interwoven the sayings and poems from so many world religious sources to bring into focus the pandemic situation that we all are living in at this moment. It also allows one to go deeper and ponder on our own faith journeys in the light of another religious tradition and to realize that the source of all is ‘I AM’.”—ST
“I have read the entire publication and feel blessed to have done so. This is a wonderful resource for everyone’s life journey, and I would be more than pleased to promote and distribute it to others. Thank you for always having the Neighbourhood Ministry in mind and using your incredible gifts to support those we serve in this ministry.”—JS
“Thanks so much, Pitman. This is a beautiful book.”—RT
2020 Annual Meeting draws attendees via Zoom
By Joan Stewart Posted July 29, 2020
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.
Food and Clothing Drive Continues to Serve
By Beth Vondette Posted May 21, 2020
The Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry has allied with other community partners to continue serving the homeless and vulnerable community with a clothing and food drive. Please view the attached flyer for further details.
From May 25 – Jun 8, 2020 please drop off donations to St. John’s Shaughnessy only. St. Philip’s is currently a construction site as the roof is replaced. For your safety, we ask that all donations be directed to St. John’s Shaughnessy (1490 Nanton Avenue).
One of our volunteers delivered juice boxes, bottles of water and granola bars to one of our community partners. The clothing donated this week will be taken to the shelter in a few days.
Neighbourhood Ministry Food and Clothing Drive Delivers
By Beth Vondette Posted May 13, 2020
Food and Clothing Drive launch successful!
By Beth Vondette Posted April 30, 2020
We had an incredible response to the new food and clothing drive initiative launched by the Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry last week.
We have donated everything brought in so far from all the parishes and were able to provide food for over 100 hungry people this week!
Our community partners were delighted to receive all your wonderful donations.
Thank you for your generosity and keep it coming!
Food and Clothing Drive
By Beth Vondette Posted April 23, 2020
We are delighted to announce that the Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry has allied with other community partners to continue serving the homeless and vulnerable community with a clothing and food drive. Please view the attached flyer for further details on items sought and how you can help.
Spring Newsletter Published
By Joan Stewart Posted April 6, 2020
The latest edition of the Neighbourhood Ministry Newsletter has been published. Keep up to date with the news of the Ministry.
Neighbourhood Ministry receives City of Vancouver grant
By Joan Stewart Posted March 27, 2020
On February 26, 2020, the City of Vancouver approved a grant in the amount of $26,600 for the Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry’s (WNAM) project “Equipping Volunteers for Service to Homeless and Vulnerable People.”
The City of Vancouver received funding requests from 23 organizations and approved 15 of them, providing grant amounts ranging from $14,000 to $116,000.
For a full list of the organizations and their requests, click here.
In its funding approval letter to the WANM, Vancouver City Council commended the WANM as follows:
“We recognize the vital work that the Neighbourhood Ministry does to support and protect vulnerable renters and people experiencing homelessness in our city. We received many requests for funding during this grant cycle, and as a result we are not able to fully fund every commendable project that came in. The committee saw the strength in your project and how it is offering critical services to renters in need…. Thank you for the important work you’re doing.”
In a presentation to the City of Vancouver, Standing Committee on City Finances and Services, Vicki Potter, WNAM Operations Lead, thanked the Vancouver City Council as follows:
“Good morning Mr. Mayor, members of Council, City staff and guests.
My name is Vicki Potter, and for the past 13 years, I have volunteered with the Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry. The Neighbourhood Ministry is a recommended recipient of a Renters’ Services Grant.
I am here to voice our support of the Renters’ Services Grant recommendations that you are considering today, to thank you in advance for your support of organizations like ours, and to encourage your continued action to address the plight of homeless and vulnerable citizens in our neighbourhoods.
First, let me tell you a little about the Neighbourhood Ministry. We are a group of four Anglican churches on Vancouver’s Westside, who 13 years ago joined together to offer care, companionship and practical assistance to the homeless and needy in our neighbourhood. We do this through a number of programs, run by teams of dedicated volunteers from the churches and the neighbourhood. We have about 40 volunteers who regularly serve between 3 and 50 hours per month.
The pillar of our program has been our Saturday street walks, during which teams of volunteers reach out to homeless neighbours where they live—on our streets, laneways, parks and beaches – offering care packets, fresh food, seasonal clothing, tents, tarps and blankets , and most of all kind conversation. We make about 1,000 connections a year, building trust, understanding and friendships. All of our offerings are donated by parishioners in the four churches.
Over the years, we have supplemented the street walks with other services, providing practical assistance in helping our homeless and vulnerable neighbours access housing, income and disability assistance, ID replacement, seniors benefits, and connections to medical and other supports. We help people complete applications, accompany them to appointments, and provide a PO box and telephone number to serve as contact for those who have no other stable way of being contacted. We stay in touch once people move indoors, finding that this can be a lonely and stressful time for people who have been homeless.
Four years ago, we launched the Mobile Care Unit. The MCU, as it is known, is a collaboration of our church volunteers with the UBC School of Medicine’s Family Practice Unit and the UBC School of Social Work. Together, we visit several westside community meal programs regularly to provide basic medical care and social service assistance to meal guests. Many of the guests are homeless or precariously housed, low-income and have a myriad of medical conditions. In addition to providing low barrier access to medical and social services, the MCU provides a unique interdisciplinary training ground for our future doctors and social workers who serve the MCU during their residencies and practicums.
The work of the Neighbourhood Ministry to date has been funded almost entirely through the Anglican Church—individual parishioners who give what they can— and by friends and other westside neighbours who believe in this important cause. Most importantly, the initiative is sustained through thousands of volunteer hours per year.
This brings me to why the Renters’ Services Grant is so important to our organization. As our services have expanded, the training and knowledge required by our volunteers has increased dramatically. Our clients rely on us for accurate information related to the filing and tracking of applications, and we take that responsibility seriously. Through ongoing training, our volunteers learn the ins and outs of various government programs, eligibility requirements, and application processes, then go on to help our clients through this maze. Funds from the Renters’ Services Grant will allow us to hire a part-time professional to support our volunteer training program and to keep volunteers connected with other organizations to maximize effectiveness. We applaud the City for investing in and partnering with organizations such as ours to facilitate neighbours helping neighbours.
Finally, I want to thank the City for its efforts to address affordable housing in this City—especially housing for the homeless and poorly housed. At the Neighbourhood Ministry, we believe housing is a basic human right. The Modular Housing program, and before that the “bricks and mortar” Supportive Housing buildings spread throughout our City—provide decent, stable homes for the most marginalized of our citizens. We see firsthand the impact this housing has had on our clients—a first chance at improved mental and physical well-being. A chance at a fresh start.
We also see the impact when this housing fills up and there is no more coming online—as has been the case for nearly a year now. Wait lists grow, our streets fill up again, the costs to society skyrocket, and despair and hopelessness prevails.
In closing, we implore you to BUILD MORE SUPPORTIVE HOUSING. IN EVERY NEIGHBOURHOOD. AS FAST AS YOU CAN.”
Neighbourhood Ministry Programs Suspended
Posted by Beth Vondette Posted March 17, 2020
On March 17, 2020, Archbishop Melissa directed that most church activities, including outreach, be suspended in light of the rapidly evolving Covid-19 situation. As such, the Neighbourhood Ministry will suspend the Street Outreach and Mobile Care Unit activities effective immediately.
This is an incredibly difficult time for our homeless and vulnerable neighbours. They are in our thoughts and prayers.