Meet Gavin Crooks. He is a 57-year-old Vancouver resident who has navigated many challenges in his life. He has spent the better part of recent years battling a terminal illness without reliable housing, often sleeping outside, and without sufficient access to food. He would panhandle to scrape together just enough to buy some simple food, and occasionally turn to small petty crimes just so he could eat.
Gavin recently discovered the community support offered by the West End-Coal Harbour Community Policing Centre (WECHCPC), and the VPF Food Voucher program in particular. He is a regular visitor to the WECHCPC and recently shared with their staff and volunteers that because of the VPF Food Voucher program, he has gained nearly 10 lbs and he doesn’t need to panhandle as often or consider committing small crimes anymore. He has even found the strength to secure affordable housing.
Gavin penned a letter to express how the VPF Food Vouchers have impacted his life in recent months:
To whomever it may concern,
I just wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the wonderful people you have at the Coal Harbour Community policing office on Davies. My name is Gavin Crooks. I am 57 years old and have a terminal diagnosis and because of your meal ticket program, I was able to gain weight and get a little more grounded which allowed me to feel good enough to pursue housing which I am happy to say I now have an apartment.
When I found out about your program I was sleeping outside in that terrible wet winter we had, the ladies at your office always treated me with dignity and never seemed to judge or belittle me due to my circumstance. They did the opposite, and with their kind words and actions I regained hope that was previously lost and now I see a lot of things are possible.
The meal ticket program shows people like me someone cares and a full stomach can be quite comforting.
In closing I wish to thank the lovely ladies at your office and the Vancouver Police Foundation for funding this program. It truly changed my life for the better.
My many thanks from the bottom of my heart. Wishing you all the best.
The VPF Food Voucher program launched in 2021 in partnership with the Gathering Place Community Centre which serves and supports Vancouver’s vulnerable populations. They provide accessible and engaging programs with a focus on food and nutrition, health, education, recreation, arts and culture, and community development. The concept for the program came from the staff at the Community Policing Centres when they identified a need to try to do more to support Vancouver’s homeless and food insecure population.
Last year, the West End-Coal Harbour Community Policing Centre alone distributed more than 150 VPF Food Vouchers to those who needed them the most. They were distributed by way of WECHCPC volunteers on street patrol and also when vulnerable individuals visited the office. The vouchers are redeemed for a warm meal at the Gathering Place cafeteria.
If you would like to donate to support the VPF Food Voucher program or any other VPD staff-initiated community program, please donate online or call us at 604.717.3700. Gifts of all sizes can make a difference.