“The services here, the people I’ve talked to … they are willing to be here because they care,” says Murray, a Mustard Seed client. “That’s how we build a city. That’s how we build a community.”

At United Way British Columbia, we understand the difference that care and compassion have when helping community members that are struggling.

The Mustard Seed in Kamloops, supported by United Way, knows it, too.

“At The Mustard Seed we work with our vulnerable population and homeless … we give them dignity by giving them the things they need as much as possible around food, clothing, shelter,” says Kelly, managing director at The Mustard Seed.

“We have a night-time shelter that helps get them out of the cold at night … during the day we have a day room in which they can come in, have coffee, talk with advocates, and generally get the help that they need to continue to move on with their lives.”

Murray finds support and The Mustard Seed, and sees the good it’s doing for others, too.

The difference that compassionate aid makes

Organizations like this are nothing short of essential, says Murray.

“Just that meal … To come in, ‘I’m cold, I’m wet, and I’ve got wet feet,’ get some socks, get some underwear … The basic needs that people take for granted are offered here to people that don’t have it,” says Murray. “Without the Mustard Seed, and places like ASK Wellness, other places, people die. People will just stop and die.”

In addition to needing access to the essentials, people who use The Mustard Seed are often dealing with an array of other issues, from trauma to addiction. Having the right person to talk, like advocates at The Mustard Seed, can make a huge difference, says Murray.

Giving hope to families touched by addiction

“The hardest thing for any parent to live through is to watch their child on the street going through an addiction, and knowing that there’s not much help out there. But it’s places like this … that give hope,” says Murray.

This United Way-funded organization continues to help Murray on his journey dealing with addiction.

“There are days where … one person says the wrong thing to me and I’m going to go out and get high. I’m not the golden boy. I have used, I do use occasionally. It’s not an everyday thing. But if I have a really, really bad day, I’m more apt to go and pick up,” says Murray.
“Then to have a gentleman at the Mustard Seed go, ‘No no, just stay here for a couple more minutes. We’re locking the door, but I need to talk to you.’ That’s happened to me within the last little while here.”

These vital connections to people willing to talk, and willing to support people when they are struggling, changes lives.

“That one person that they talk to out there might be the reason why they go to detox and get clean, because, ‘Hey, they made a lot of sense,’” explains Murray. “’They were willing to help me when I’m down here. They brought me, put me on their shoulder and carried me through the rough time’ … That’s what needs to happen. We need more of that.”

We can do more, with your help

A comparison of the latest Point-in-Time homeless counts in Kamloops shows the homeless population nearly doubled in two years.

B.C. is also experiencing the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the country.

And while your support of United Way British Columbia is changing lives every day, more needs to be done. You can help us support more of the work that Murray says is making a difference.

“The United Way comes alongside, they look around and see what the community needs in a lot of different ways, and picks the places that it can have the most impact,” says Kelly. You give us the power to have that impact.

Together, let’s create the kind of supportive, compassionate communities that Murray envisions.

Please, if you can, donate today to United Way British Columbia. Funds raised in your community will be put to use in your community.

Watch the whole story here: