With Love for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
By Kate Gustafson
We can, all of us, agree that Vancouver has a brilliant running community. It’s in all of the training, racing and being together that expands our awareness of the place we call home. It was the idea of “home” that sent me searching for ways to support our most vulnerable neighbourhoods.
Through fundraising and volunteer work I’ve come to know the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC), a community at that’s equally strong, supportive, and full of incredible people. They provide basic needs, like a warm lunch, and a safe, non-judgmental environment for women from all walks of life, who live or work in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In the act of opening their doors for the past 39 years, the DEWC transforms lives. For many of us, running has transformed our own.
As a runner who treasures the road’s quiet moments before the city wakes, the DEWC is equally peaceful before the lunch rush. On volunteer shifts, I’ve sorted through donated clothes and set up tables accompanied by a hum of others putting their heads down to complete the task at hand. Like any rainy, snowy or sweltering race day, the show must go on. It should also be known that these meals are an amazing, daily feat; accomplished by creative, compassionate and hardworking kitchen staff.
The meals program is the DEWC’s most underfunded and important program, as food is the main draw to get many women in the door. Once inside, the DEWC has the opportunity to teach women about other programs and services, and provide access to much more than basic needs.
As a passionate runner and supporter of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, my hope is that you’re inspired to learn more, get involved and support this incredible community in whatever way you can.