Sharing hope, peace, love and joy this Advent season
ADVENT … It means “coming”, and it’s the period before Christmas, in anticipation for the birth of Jesus – Emmanuel – God who came to dwell in the neighbourhood among us. This Advent season, NightShift will share with you a daily picture, from December 1-25, giving a window into the life of our ministry, and a glimpse of Jesus in the ‘hood.
Merry Christmas from the NightShift staff team! 🎄♥️ Our community means so much to us. Volunteers, donors, prayer supporters and friends on the street — it’s people who make NightShift a neighbourhood. How awesome then, that today we celebrate God, who became a person — and moved right into the neighbourhood. To walk with us, through grief and joy, through the everyday and through the eventful. To comfort us and to celebrate with us. This is Emmanuel. This is Jesus. Just as a star pointed the way to the child Jesus, points of light still show the way to His Hope at NightShift. Thank you for being one of those points of light in the NightShift neighbourhood. We couldn’t do this work without you.
With love, the NightShift Team.
Christmas CHIMEs are ringing! On this cold Christmas Eve 2021, it’s not Santa’s sleigh pulling up in NightShift’s Surrey outreach lot, it’s the Mobile Outreach Unit (MOU). And that’s even better. The MOU serves in Surrey (Fridays) and Langley (Mondays), providing low barrier access to professional nursing and counselling care for vulnerable friends who might not otherwise have easy access to basic medical care. Pictured here are MOU nurse, Hanna Hilstad, and MOU host, Dr. Paul Sobey, who bring their kind hearts and medical professionalism to the street. “The MOU provides access to medical care that homeless people can’t easily access, unless they are acutely medically ill,” shares Dr. Sobey. He says the MOU also provides something else deeply important, called CHIME, which stands for: Connectivity; Hope; Identity; Meaning; and Empowerment. This is the basic framework for anyone taking steps toward recovery. Thank you Dr. Sobey and MOU volunteers. Let the bells CHIME out in the NightShift neighbourhood!
The Christmas meal is important at NightShift Street Ministries. We gather to serve our best to friends experiencing homelessness, poverty, addiction and mental illness. With the help of donors, volunteers and staff, last week NightShift served two special turkey dinners, along with treats and gifts, to our friends going through hard times. Together, we served almost 200 people in the city centres of Surrey and Langley. Christmas Dinner is a meaningful one for our friends on the street for the same reasons as for all of us. It can bring back nostalgic memories of friends and family, and it also highlights the importance a community coming together to serve each other. And, with Christmas, comes the mysterious hope of God, who loves us and came to live right in our neighbourhood. Emmanuel!
Wishing you a paws-itively amazing Christmas! Say hello to Nettie, NightShift’s resident tail wagger, people greeter, and belly rub enthusiast. This little fur ball belongs to MaryAnne Connor, Founder and President of NightShift. Nettie spends much of her time in the office, sharing unconditional love with staff, volunteers, donors, friends on the street, and pretty much anyone and everyone who stops in for a visit! Nettie is the perfect example of why so many people struggling on the street choose to care for canine companions. Dogs provide everyone, no matter what their circumstances may be, with unconditional love, companionship, support, purpose, and safety. It has also been proven that owning and caring for a pet can positively impact your mental health. Swing by the NightShift office sometime! We know Nettie would love to meet you.
Love people as they are. Meet people where they’re at. Judah Rodway lives this out every day as he looks to serve and bless those around him. As founder and creator of Judah’s Sock Drive, last week he blessed the NightShift office with hundreds of warm socks and other cozy winter items for us to distribute to our friends on the street this holiday season. Judah began his Sock Drive back when he was in the sixth grade, and has since had three major drives where he has encouraged friends and family to donate warm winter items to people in need in our community. All items collected through Judah’s Sock Drive are donated to NightShift, as Judah seeks to bless the vulnerable people of Surrey experiencing homelessness, poverty, addiction and mental illness. We are so grateful for the impact Judah is making in so many people’s lives.
Cooking up a storm in the NightShift kitchen! Meet Mildred and Abe! Two dedicated individuals who give their time to serve every single Monday night. Mildred and Abe volunteer alongside a team made up of wonderful members from Surrey Alliance Church. This Monday night team has been with NightShift from the beginning. In 2004, Abe’s late wife, Rose, saw a need in her community and inspired a group of individuals to begin serving the vulnerable population within our community. For nearly 18 years this team has been sharing love, hope and purpose with those in need. Abe expresses how blessed he feels “To be able to serve those around him.” He finds so much joy in seeing a need and being able to help out in a meaningful way. We are so grateful for the faithful, continued and dedicated support of these individuals.
Our friends George and Wes first came to NightShift for help in their own lives – but they stayed to offer help to others. These guys are an important part of NightShift’s evening meal outreach – showing up early to help set up and staying after to help clean up. George and Wes remind us that what we do at NightShift is about more than serving a hot meal – it’s about the love, hope and purpose that are shared as we gather together for that meal.
It’s an honour to be part of this community. Thank you!
This is Nick Dewsbury, a second-year student in business communications at Trinity Western University. Our team at NightShift recently had the pleasure of meeting Nick when he stopped by the office. He brought with him a generous donation of hoodies that he designed himself through his company, Humane Clothing. Nick decided to donate to NightShift because of his value of sharing God’s love through action. Each hoodie reads the message “Broken Hearts Fixed” on the front. This message represents his desire to create a meaningful impact within a community in need.
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Thank you, Nick! We appreciate your generous heart.
All are welcome at the House of Grace table! For over a year, Pastor Jin and his team from House of Grace have been serving lunch from NightShift on Fridays and Saturdays, along with a Bible study on Sunday mornings. “Anybody can come and join us,” shares Pastor Jin (pictured left, beside volunteer Pastor Park). “Providing food is a very good way to connect with people as Jesus did. Sharing a meal is like Holy Communion for us, when we gather at Jesus’ table. The world can often exclude people, and that’s why we are called ‘House of Grace’ – because everyone is welcome here.”
Pastor Jin says sharing a meal is important, but beyond the physical table is a belief in God, who is limitless in providing transformation. “Our goal is building a faith community for those in need, and that’s why I wanted to work with NightShift.”
Sharing the love at NightShift! Earlier this week, Erin and her Dad, Lloyd, stopped by the NightShift office to donate 100 very special Christmas Gift Bags for our friends on the street. Each gift bag was made with love, care, and intentionality by Erin and her classmates in the Inter-A program at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School. The Inter-A kids raised all the funds towards this project and filled each bag with tons of useful treats and goodies for our street friends. With the help of the Grade 7 Leadership students from Simon Cunningham, (who held a clothing drive to collect socks, toques, gloves, and scarves), these bags will be a blessing this Christmas! To Erin and her classmates, we appreciate your kindness, your generosity, and your desire to help people in need in our community. Thank you!
Nothin’ says lovin’ like cookies from the oven. Meet Peggy, who bakes cookies for one of NightShift’s outreach nights in Langley, led by a team from Recovery Church. Her heart for reaching out to people in need is sweeter than her cookies. “They’re just people, like you and me, and they need help,” says Peggy, who will be 99 years old in a few months. “Reaching out with a meal touches a place inside people. I think they appreciate the kindness. It can help them find their way.” Peggy says she has been blessed all her life, and it’s God who gives her the soft heart to help where she can. “I’ve slowed down a bit in the last while, but cookies are what I can do. It blesses me as much as it blesses others.” Consider us blessed! Thank you Peggy!
Some people see a human need, and intentionally act to fill it. That’s how it is for our friend Taranvir, who visited NightShift this week and – for the second year in a row – brought a donation of around 80 brand new blankets for people on the street, struggling to stay warm this winter season. Taranvir, a professional truck driver, says he still has a hard time getting used to cold Canadian winters, even six years after immigrating from Punjab, India. When he noticed people struggling with homelessness in the cold, he knew he wanted to help. Warmest thanks, Taranvir.
The stockings were filled by the students, with care. For over a decade, the students of Regent Christian Academy (RCA) have been putting their collective hearts together to stuff new socks with care items and treats for people experiencing homelessness, poverty, addiction and mental illness on the streets in our communities. Regent students began their Christmas campaign over 10 years ago, with 300 lovingly filled socks. This year, they outdid themselves with a record 742 stuffed stockings, presented to NightShift’s Founder and President, MaryAnne Connor (Mac), at a chapel assembly. “This has become one of NightShift’s favourite Christmas traditions,” shares Mac. “When we hand these stockings out to our friends on the street, we see a sparkle in their eyes and joy in their faces.” Thank you to RCA, and all our student supporters. You make the future bright!
Wayne’s story is a powerful one of hope and love. After decades struggling with addiction, Wayne is spending this Christmas embracing life! Wayne found freedom from addiction through a special recovery program that operates at NightShift. Wayne enrolled in RE:ACT (Recovery Education from Addiction and Complex Trauma) after growing weary of long-term drug use. Over the years he had tried various rehabs, but nothing stuck – until he found RE:ACT. Immediately he knew this program was different. “I’m learning how to live again,” shares Wayne. He says he has also learned he is not defined by addiction, but instead by a deep love of God. Wayne remembers the times over the years he would come to NightShift for a hot meal. Now, he wants to give back to the community that was once there for him. “If someone like me can recover, maybe I can inspire someone else to do the same,” shares Wayne.
This generous donation of winter items represents a legacy of love. The donation honours the lives of NightShift supporters Sandi and Paul Tetrault, who tragically died in a car accident a few years ago. Sandi was a volunteer foot care nurse at NightShift. Last week, the Tetrault’s eldest son’s girlfriend, Melissa Enno, dropped off a carload of items for people in need: 104 pairs of socks; 19 pairs of shoes; 6 boots; 21 sweaters; 53 jackets, and a ton of winter accessories!
“Paul and Sandi were passionate about NightShift,” shares Melissa. “Most people don’t think twice about buying a new jacket, but for someone on the street, getting a jacket is the best thing to happen to them in winter.” Thank you Melissa and Justin, and all who donated items to warm the body — and the heart.
Do you see what I see? Our friend Joan is looking pretty snazzy with her new prescription glasses! She received the glasses through NightShift’s Vision Screening, offered in partnership with Dr. Mona Sandhu and her team from Clayton Heights Optometry. Joan waited through pandemic restrictions and often knocked on NightShift’s door to ask when she could get her eyes checked. Earlier this year, when restrictions eased, we were finally able to again offer the Vision Screening. When her eyeglasses arrived, and she put them on for the first time, Joan exclaimed, over and over: “I’m so happy! I’m so happy!” NightShift’s Surrey Outreach Manager, Summer, had the honour of presenting Joan with her new glasses. “When she put them on, her face absolutely lit up. For people like Joan who already experience lack, to have this health service offered to them for free, in a welcoming environment, is wonderful to be part of.”
Meet Seema, a big-hearted realtor with Personal Real Estate Corporation with Royal LePage West RES. Today, Seema visited NightShift, bringing with her a donation of several brand new, cozy blankets, collected for the Annual Realtors Care Blanket Drive, for us to distribute to our friends on the street struggling to stay warm this winter. Seema began participating in the Annual Realtors Care Blanket Drive 3 years ago with a genuine desire to “pay it forward to a great and much needed cause.”
“I chose NightShift as one of the places I donate to because I see the needs of the people that you serve, and NightShift is amazing with all the work you do on a daily basis.” Seema, thank you so much to you and your colleagues for your generosity this Christmas season!
Sharing our lives with each other, in good times and hard times, makes NightShift a community, and the members of our community, like Christopher, are our friends. Christopher began visiting NightShift earlier this year, when he found himself living in a shelter for the first time in his life. “I was walking by NightShift on a Monday and I heard music,” shares Christopher. “I came over, and I stayed for hot food, a sandwich and hot chocolate. I started coming back every night, and helping with cleaning up. NightShift offers hope. It’s a beacon on a hill. You all help and serve others with a joyful heart, and I want to be part of that.” We love your friendship and your serving heart, Christopher!
Did you know NightShift serves a hot meal to friends in need in Langley, four nights a week? Our volunteer teams from local Langley churches, life groups and businesses serve a hot meal Monday to Thursday to about 50 people every night, outside Friends Langley Vineyard Church. NightShift began serving in Langley four years ago, with one night, and last year, our commitment to serve has grown to four nights! “We’ve become a service that people can rely on in Langley because of the dedication of our outreach teams and the relationships we are growing in this community,” says NightShift’s Langley Outreach Manager, Shawn Francis. “We’re serving people who are without homes, people struggling with addiction and mental health, and even low income seniors and families. We just want to shine a light for people in need of kindness and care.”
Oh, come all ye faithful! Most of what happens at NightShift is “seen” — at our outreach meals and services, our drop-in centre, special events and more. But this faithful crew, Rod, Alice, Shirley and Dianna, do the beautiful “unseen” work of prayer. They meet on a Saturday to call on the love, grace and provision of God for our ministry. 🙏🏼 “We get together and pray for street friends and all the needs within the ministry. We pray that God would meet our needs,” shares Rod. “I became a Christian because people were praying for me, so God can do anything!”
Kelly’s story is one of Hope, healing and serving others. A dedicated volunteer at NightShift’s Welcome Centre dop-in, Kelly has a wonderful gift of connecting with people in need in our community. Kelly’s ability to connect with people experiencing pain and addiction comes from a very real place. She’s been through it too – and come out the other side with a mission to share hope. “I think the opposite of addiction is connection. When people feel loved, they start to feel hope,” shares Kelly. “At NightShift, when we serve people, we are sharing the truth, that they important and they matter. That’s sharing hope.” NightShift is so grateful for Kelly in our volunteer family. She’s got a powerful story of hope and healing from addiction and trauma.
Come, they told me, pa rum pa pa pum. All are welcome in the NightShift neighbourhood. When we reach out to serve people in need, we find that people reach back. There is an important connection that often emerges, human to human. Just ask volunteer Jacki, who has been serving faithfully with NightShift since 2014. She knows that we all have a need to be seen, loved and valued. “When I serve, I look to share a connection with people,” Jacki shares. “Every human needs that connection, to feel that human touch, to be looked at in the eyes and seen, to feel valued and loved unconditionally. I need that, and so do our friends on the street.”
“Love your neighbour” doesn’t get more real than this. 💕 Last week, long-time Friday-night NightShift volunteer, Rita, brought in a $40 donation from her neighbour in Abbotsford. The neighbour had intended to buy jam for NightShift’s outreach sandwiches, but was unable to get to Costco due to flooding in the Sumas Valley. Not only that, the neighbour’s family’s farm had been devastated by the flooding. But amidst their own crisis and loss, the neigbhour went out of their way to help people in need on the street. They asked Rita to donate their $40 jam money directly to NightShift. “That’s the way good humans work,” shared Rita about her neighbours, after presenting the donation to MaryAnne at NightShift. “Even though they were faced with turmoil, they were still giving.” NightShift is so grateful for this neighbour’s kindness.
NightShift’s longtime friend and supporter Lloyd Hughes (centre) likes to share his blessings. Since the early days of our ministry, Lloyd, founder of Park Ridge Homes, has supported NightShift’s outreach to people in need on the streets, in many ways, including his annual donation of rain gear and outdoor clothing. “I’ve been blessed in my life and God has asked me to help others, so I do,” shared Lloyd, when he delivered the rain gear with help of friends from Broadway Church. NightShift is so grateful for Lloyd’s generous heart over the years. “Since the early days, he’s been so faithful in his support,” says NightShift’s Founder and President, MaryAnne Connor. “There is a twinkle in that man’s eyes when he gives.”
Our staff are like family! Here, some of NightShift’s staff gather around our littlest team member, Aaron! Maisie, Administration Assistant, and Jacob, Ministry Assistant, are on either side of Hannah, Communications Coordinator, who is snuggling with Aaron, the son our accountant William. There’s just something special about loving a baby! Hannah shares so well how that love can inform what we do everyday at NightShift, as we reach out to people on the street. ♥️ “Loving a child is so easy – they’re adorable, innocent and precious. And that is how God sees each of us, regardless of what we’ve done or our circumstances. Every one of us, no matter who we are, is a precious child of God, and we are so loved.” ♥️