CityReach Care Society has shown that it's possible to serve others despite being rejected in the beginning, and they encourage others to do the same in their own communities.
CityReach Care is a non-profit organization launched out of Broadway Church, Vancouver in 2004. They strive to assist those in need, including the homeless, the hungry, and others in need.
"Essentially, we're a non-profit do-gooder society," says CityReach Executive Director, Simon Gau. "We go into the community and do all sorts of good things. We run a number of different kinds of food programs, programs that deal with homelessness and addiction and mental health, and our Adopt-A-School program."
Their Adopt-A-School program was more challenging to start up, despite 36 different elementary schools surrounding CityReach in a 3-kilometre radius.
A few years after CityReach started, the team began looking at ways to impact families directly. So, Gau started introducing himself to the many nearby schools, asking the principals if they needed any help, and then leaving after their services were declined.
"In being a faith-based group there's just a lot of baggage that comes with being faith-based and a lot of people have different preconceived notions about it but we simply decided to stick with it."
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After making multiple visits to the schools and offering help and being rejected, one day, Gau received a call. The school asked if they could provide a kid who kept having accidents with diapers and a spare change of clothes, without missing a beat, Gau said yes and that was their first help request.
While it was an exciting moment, to finally have a school ask for help, it didn't start a wave of requests from schools but for Gau and the others at CityReach, it was a start. So, they stayed consistent, offering assistance to schools if needed.
Eventually, there was another for a kid who needed a bus pass to get to school, and then another for a kid who needed a wheelchair. Their Adopt-A-School program was finally gaining some traction.
Gau says that even though they were starting to get frequent help requests, he was a little disappointed that all of it was happening behind the scenes and no one was noticing them do the Lord's work—that is until he got a phone call from one of the principals.
"I walked into their office thinking I was gonna get in trouble. And the principal told me, 'Simon, I know what you're doing.' And I thought, 'Shoot, I'm gonna get in trouble somehow for being a Christian on the campus.' This is a principal that has a very different worldview than me and a different outlook on life, and they turn to me and said, 'Simon, can you pray for me?'"
For Gau, this was a moment of realization that he and the CityReach team need to keep going, to keep saying yes to serving the community.
"I just thought, only God can take our yeses and turn them into something beautiful like that."
CityReach's Adopt-A-School program has now grown and they've needed to hire more people committed to serving the vital needs of the community.
The director of the program had a dream of being on every school's speed dial and to this day, out of the 50 different schools they have a relationship with, many of them have CityReach on speed dial.
"It was just a couple; of years ago that we were getting turned away, and if you just say yes to serving the practical needs of others, God does incredible things through that. We're not even actually in the food business, but we're in the hope business."
Gau says they accept online donations but he encourages others to go out in their own communities and seek out their local "CityReach." There are churches and other non-profits that are doing the same thing, helping the homeless, the addicts, the hungry, and the mentally ill in all parts of the country.
"I would just say get inspired to go get involved and to volunteer or donate or walk down to your local public elementary school and knock on the door, meet the principal and just simply ask the question, 'Hey, how can we serve you?' And no matter what it is, just say yes."