British Columbia Division

Bikers ride for Gateway of Hope

09
.01

bikersride_3Motorcycle enthusiasts raised funds for the community’s first permanent homeless shelter and outreach centre.

Used with permission from Langley Advance/Written by Troy Landreville/Published: Tuesday, September 01, 2009

 

Small butterflies flip-flopped in Gary Johnson’s stomach Saturday morning.

The local Salvation Army envoy had never ridden a motorcycle himself, and he hasn’t been a passenger for some 42-plus years.

That changed over the weekend when Johnson climbed on the back of a Yamaha 100 cruiser driven by Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, as they took part in the fourth annual Mercy Ride for the Homeless.

Asked if he was nervous prior to the ride, Johnson said, “A little bit, to be honest with you, yes. But it will be fun. I’m in good hands; I’m with the mayor. We’re not doing the whole ride, because he has another engagement, but I’ll have some fun.”

The hour-and-a-half long ride raises money for The Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope (GOH), Langley’s new homeless shelter and outreach centre.

The fundraiser started at the shelter, located along the Langley Bypass beside Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

A total of 36 motorcycles travelled as a convoy, and while totals haven’t been finalized yet, Johnson figures the ride raised between $4,000 and $5,000.

For Johnson, the ride mirrors his journey in helping to make GOH a reality – a little nerve-wrenching at times, but ultimately satisfying.

“When we finally found the site, I didn’t have any doubts,” Johnson said. “I knew there would be a lot of hard work, but it’s now paid off and we’re well on our way.”

The ride has been a huge contributor to the future shelter, Johnson said.

“We have so many groups that want to help, and they came on board before we even found a site,” he said.

“They always had a vision to help us with whatever we were going to do.”

The Salvation Army will get the keys in mid-October, and the shelter should be welcoming the community’s homeless starting the week of Nov. 9.

An opening celebration is set for the end of November.

The facility will house 30 emergency beds as well as 25 supportive independent transitional beds. It will provide a daily meal centre that will feed 150 homeless and marginalized people per sitting, seven days a week, as well as a host of vocational programs including chef, custodial, and hospitality training, computer education, and counseling services.

Johnson said people looking to find instant warmth in the grip of early winter are looking forward to the shelter.

“The other day I was at the office late, about nine o’clock and I had some homeless people at the front door,” he said. “I asked them, ‘When we open the Gateway of Hope will you come in to be served?’ They said, ‘Absolutely. We really want to get out of this trench that we are in. We want to change our lives. To me, that was really encouraging.”

3 Comments

Carol Reid

Commendable, the efforts and intentions of each individual and group, working towards improving the lives of the most vulnerable, the most desperate.
In every respect, truly commendable the long term work of the Salvation Army.

Reply
Dennis Fleming

Congratulations to the Salvation Army and special congratulations to envoy Gary Johnson for all of his hard work towards the opening of Langley City’s GATEWAY OF HOPE facility at month end. I know Gary and so many others have devoted a great deal of time and effort towards this worthy project. I was fortunate to have Gary tell me about this project while he was visiting a very dear and much missed friend, Arthur (Bert) Naylor who passed away at the Maple Hill Hospice in Langley in May. Gary was contacted and showed no hesitation whatever in visiting with Bert the evening he passed away due to his long and difficult fight with cancer. I know that Gary brought Bert great peace of mind that night and on several visits prior. I am thankful for the Salvation Army being blessed with such caring and compassionate envoys and others who do much needed work in the community. I know that I and Bert’s great niece, Sabrina Kennedy will always remember Gary for the love and kindness he showed to someone who was special to us both. THANK YOU

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