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Margaret's Story

Margaret lived in one of the single room accommodation hotels where VSMS operates Neighbourhood Helpers ( a Seniors Outreach Program). One of our Outreach Coordinators, Clemencia Gomez, met Margaret on her regular door-knocking rounds. She wasn’t very social at first, but after several months of reaching out to her, Margaret began to show up in the hotel lobby for Coffee Time.

When she finally loosened up, Margaret began to express her thoughts on music, politics and literature. You see, as it turned out, Margaret was once a very successful lawyer. Her life was going very well until she became hospitalized with chronic depression that lasted for two years. She had to put all her belongings in storage, and she LOST everything—work, friends, family, her house, her office—EVERYTHING. That’s what led her to life in a run-down residential hotel in Vancouver’s downtown core, where Clemencia first met her.

When we first met Margaret, her main
complaint was sharing a bathroom with more than 80 people, most of them men. With the help of the Seniors Outreach Program, Margaret was able to find herself a cleaner hotel where she wouldn’t have to do this. Her overall health began to improve, and with some gentle encouragement she began to participate in Coffee Time once a week and Community Kitchen, where she helped
plan meals and do grocery shopping for group meals.

After two years of extending her circle of friendship with other seniors through our Neighbourhood Helpers ( a Seniors Outreach Program), Margaret found the courage to organize a woman’s support group. She became the leader of the program. We also encouraged her to enroll in a computer class at the Vancouver Community College and work as a volunteer at the Gathering Place in a program called the “Law Clinic” where she could use her skills as a lawyer. She also used her legal knowledge to defend tenant evictions in hotels where we work.

Margaret began to dream of establishing a practice in law again with the hopes of someday owning her own house and running her own office. She was experiencing life to its fullest. Then just when we thought Margaret had her life back on track, she passed away at 58.

Margaret taught us a great lesson: no matter how successful you are in one moment, life and circumstances can change in an instant. And while
Margaret’s story may end here, there are so many more in the community that rely on encouragement and support for daily survival.

Please consider supporting seniors like Margaret. Click here for more information on donations.

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We give seniors a sense of community. We actively address the social, recreational, nutritional and informational needs of low-income seniors.