Vancouverites experiencing financial struggles or homelessness can put their worries on pause this weekend and enjoy a hamburger at a free barbecue.
Thousands of people are expected to come together at Crab Park on Saturday for Union Gospel Mission’s annual Summer Barbecue.
The barbecue runs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., with food served until 3 p.m.
Up to 4,000 meals will be grilled for those who are homeless, at-risk of homelessness or low income. There will be hamburgers, smokies, coleslaw, pasta salad and freezies for all to enjoy.
Kids can also look forward to face painting, bouncy castles, and a mini-carnival of games.
Union Gospel Mission’s Jeremy Hunka said the barbecue provides a chance for people to connect to long-term support services.
“Homelessness and poverty don’t take holidays during the summer,” said Hunka, noting nearly eight-in-10 Downtown Eastside children grow up in poverty.
“In the midst of financial stress or worry, our Summer BBQ brings a moment of relief.”
For 26-year-old Louise, a survivor of childhood trauma, victim of violence, and single mother, the barbecue is chance to celebrate summer and melt the stress away.
“I have a lot of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder,” says the Vancouver mother of two.
“UGM’s Summer BBQ is a fun place for the kids to be. I feel safe.”
Separated from her own mother at just three years old, Louise says creating special memories for her two children is crucial.
“The little things like this matter for families like mine,” says Louise.
“It’s just a good day.”
The get-together is the biggest event on the charity’s calendar.
UGM has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for more than 78 years.
The charity has seven locations across Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, which provide a number of services including meals, emergency shelter, clothing, education, safe housing and alcohol and drug recovery.