ECGs (Engaged Community Guides), supervised by MCSS, hit the streets


They are called ECGs.  And just like an ECG measures a patient’s heartbeat, Mission’s ECG (Engaged Community Guides) program through Stone Soup and supervised through Mission Community Services Society (MCSS) are out on Mission streets as guides and ambassadors.

All ECGs have had direct experience with homelessness and the many factors that can cause it. The program engages people with lived experience with not only homelessness but addiction, mental illness, entrenched poverty and those at-risk.

Seven people (pictured above receiving their certification) are already ECGs in Mission following their training program.  Each of them will be outfitted with maps, supplies, first aid supplies and materials for picking up refuse or for calling in the city for larger messes. This six week pilot program will first focus on the areas of Downtown Mission and Mission Hills.

The program aims to provide the  ECG trainees with:

– valuable training which includes transferable prevocational and vocational skills.  The training focuses on reliability, professionalism, and customer service.

– a stipended and socially valued role within the community, thereby improving self and social esteem and working to reduce negative stigma.

– offering hope and a gateway to other services, largely because the training takes place in a first stage setting and includes considerable self-examination.

– a credential (in the form of a course certificate) that can be used in work searching later.

– an opportunity to earn funds via altruistic work.

– an opportunity to be seen as a person of high status within the community, including by others who may be emerging from homelessness.

The program aims to provide the community with:

– community ambassadors who can serve the community as a whole, operating as guides and greeters, keeping eyes on the street and alerting neighbourhood agencies to the need for law enforcement, municipal clean-up and outreach.

– helping at-risk people to navigate to services using a relatable and authentic approach.

– keeping the area tidy.

– providing physical assistance and basic first aid as needed.

– giving directions and recommendations to patrons.

– advising on community needs.

Participants took part in a two-week training program.  They are referred by local service agencies, based on a profile of readiness and suitability.  Participants receive warm weather clothing meant to help them stay warm and dry during shifts (this cohort has two three-hour shifts weekly, always in pairs).  They are also given a uniform jacket, name tag and equipped backpack to carry, but these are returned after shifts.  ECGs use their own cell phones but will be piloting the use of walking-talkies during the initial run of the program.

The ECGs have policies and red zones that limit their practice, and these were developed in collaboration with them.

“The opportunity involved in a program like the ECGs is very exciting because it’s a terrific example of how Mission is willing to take leadership in solving the program of homelessness,” said MCSS executive director, Sanjay Gulati.

ECGs are there to help everyone, from customers to visitors to people in need of shelter.

Contact Paul Horn of Stone Soup at (604-897-0239) or Sanjay Gulati of MCSS at (604-826-3634) for more information.


Generous funding from Mission Community Foundation

Through the generosity of Mission Community Foundation,  Mission Community Services Society is celebrating the arrival of two special grants and a fundraiser donation.

Foundation executive director Angie Hetlinger said $1,000 was raised for MY House through a three-week fundraiser which grew $10 at a time.  An additional $500 Mission Community Foundation grant was earmarked for MY House through MCSS for a total of $1,500.

Hetlinger said a separate MCF $1,000 grant went to Mission Christmas Bureau.  Thank you!

To see the work of Mission Community Foundation, check out its website.

To contact Hetlinger, reach her on her cell at 778-347-6888.



Float partnership at Candlelight Parade

MCSS and the Mission Christmas Bureau appreciate the collaborative float effort with the Fraser Valley Toy Run for the 34 annual Mission Candlelight Parade.  The images here show the float as it was being built and how it looked at night.

The group shot shows the very talented students at Riverside College who donated their time and skills to get our ladies hair all done up in “Whoville” theme for the colourful, lighted float.  Mission Christmas Bureau and Food Centre thank all those who donated to the cause during the parade.

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone, and better yet a wonderful 2018.

To see more images/videos of the float, click here.  To watch Mission Record video highlights of the parade click here.


December events supporting Mission Christmas Bureau


Many efforts in Mission are what help make the Mission Christmas Bureau great in reaching out to others during the festive season.

If you’re wondering which event you can support with your donations of non-perishable food, cash or unwrapped toys, check out our December calendar of events, each with its information-packed date.

Click HERE to see all the great events happening in December.

Merry Christmas!


MCSS website event calendar introduced

What’s happening at Mission Community Services Society?  In terms of programming from seniors to settlement, food centre to the MCSS Christmas Bureau, we find you like to know.

In November, MCSS introduced its first all-program website calendar.  So if you are wondering what events are linked to fundraising for the Mission Christmas Bureau or when the next seniors Lunch with the Bunch is, you will garner the information very quickly.

To get onto the calendar, click here:


If you require some assistance with finding an event you think should be on this calendar, contact MCSS at 604-826-3634.








The MCSS calendar can be observed as a list or a month (as shown in top photo).



MCSS Christmas Bureau storefront opens

Mission Christmas Bureau storefront office is officially open next to The Source at The Junction Shopping Centre.  With photos of local politicians, Mission Community Services Society board members, staff and volunteers taken by the Mission Record’s editor Kevin Mills, the excitement was well under way on Nov. 20.

Those who spoke, including MCSS board president Roger Dowker and Mission Mayor Randy Hawes,  said they were excited about the Christmas Bureau’s continuing work in the community, under the leadership of volunteers Lesley Drown, Mika Brosseau and an entire team of energetic supporters.  MP Jati Sidhu sent constituency manager Seamus Heffernan to share a message of Christmas cheer on behalf of the federal government.


A number of special events in the community rely on the generosity of the Christmas Bureau from the West Coast Express Santa trains (Dec. 9, Dec. 16), Rotary Carol Festival (Dec. 6) at the Clarke Theatre, the Mission Candlelight Parade (Dec. 1) and Festival of Trees at All Saints Anglican Church Hall (Dec. 5-9).

The special Mission Fire Rescue Service Food Drive dates are Dec. 7 and Dec. 14.

LilyFeather Creative 778-823-0778 was busy with the Mission Christmas Bureau storefront office and is painting windows around town. Heather, owner of the company, had some help with pictured Christmas Bureau elf, Avalon Lawrence.

Many businesses in the community are collecting for the Christmas Bureau, from coats and blankets by Abstract Glass, teams of photographers creating family portraits, and pizza operations offering specific donations for the amount of product sold.  A beverage and burger night was set Nov. 24 at the 14th Avenue Pub as a Bureau fundraiser.


Donations of non-perishable food, new unwrapped gifts, sponsorships and money is being accepted at the Bureau’s storefront office at The Junction from now until Dec. 22.

Bureau hours are Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Follow the MCSS Food Centre and Christmas Bureau Facebook page for the latest Christmas Bureau information, including some very interesting and generous donors.

For more information, including how to register for a Christmas Hamper for yourself, your family or a senior, call 604-826-3634.


$5,000 from Chances Mission to MCSS Christmas Bureau

Thank you to Chances Mission for your wonderful contribution of $5,000 to MCSS Mission Christmas Bureau.

How did that happen? Well . . . Chances Mission is proud to be celebrating Gateway Casinos and Entertainment’s 25th Anniversary.

“As part of the #GatewayGives program, each of the 26 facilities across Canada requested nominations from their site staff for charitable/non-profit organizations in their communities that could really use a special donation through our Gateway 25 Days of Giving,” said a Chances Mission representative.

“We are proud and happy to announce that the Mission Christmas Bureau was our site’s winner, and to present the organizers with a $5000.00 donation.”


If you wish to make a donation to the Christmas Bureau on this website, look for the DONATE tab at the top right of the home page until it gives you the option of Mission Christmas Bureau.  If you need more details, contact our receptionist at MCSS, 604-826-3634.

Early registration starts for Christmas Bureau hampers

Mission Christmas Bureau – Wish Campaign is launching nicely in the community with a team of new and experienced volunteers . . . and early registration of Christmas hampers starts on Oct. 23 (see poster below).

The Rotary Clubs of Mission already provided support at the MCSS Festival of Light: Diwali where they collected donations for the MCSS Food Centre and Christmas Bureau, and for that we express a huge THANK YOU!

You may have seen our key volunteers at Diwali, including Bureau coordinator Lesley Drown and Debbie Dauost from our MCSS Seniors programming as pictured below.

For more information on the Mission Christmas Bureau, click on our Webpage here, our donation page on the Website (select MCSS Christmas Bureau) here, our Food Centre and Christmas Bureau Facebook page here, and the general story introducing our Christmas Bureau (which appeared in the Mission Record) here.

For more information, contact our MCSS switchboard at 604-826-3634.  The Christmas Bureau will be setting up its temporary festive office next door to The Source at The Junction Mall in November.

Best of the season to you all!

Volunteer leaders Mika Brosseau and Lesley Drown are enthusiastically planning for the 2017 season of Mission Christmas Bureau.

What a Festival of Light: Diwali it was! Wow!

Exceptional Diwali entertainment for Diwali at Clarke Theatre.

Many hands make light work, and the support from the community through volunteerism and sponsorship helped make the 2017 version of Festival of Light: Diwali one of the best ever. It was also an opportunity to celebrate Mission’s 125th birthday.

Some 20 sponsors made it all possible, and the 21 community and commercial booths in the marketplace foyer helped make the event even more special, including the new turban tying demonstration by Khalsa School of Mission.

1,000 small lights adorned the gates at Mission Clarke Theatre for Diwali.

“I was particularly impressed by the volunteer teams from Heritage Park Centre and Mission Secondary, plus the helping hands of Mission Rotary Club who collected six huge totes of non-perishable food for the MCSS Mission Food Centre and Christmas Bureau,” said Festival of Light: Diwali organizing committee chair Rick Rake who is also coordinator for the Mission Local Immigration Partnership based at MCSS.

“The entertainment (from Bollywood Dansations and Hurricane Korean Drummers to Abbotsford Arts Academy and Dasmesh Punjabi School) was spectacular,” said MCSS executive director Sanjay Gulati. Also performing were Garba Dancers, Correctional Service of Canada (Pacific Region) Community Pipe Band and Learning Stars Arts Academy.

Raj Patara of Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation learns about turban tying from a member of Khalsa School in Mission during Diwali.

Members of the public raved about the ethnic food cooked at Abbotsford Sikh Temple with ingredients for 1,000 people donated by Mission Save-On Foods (thanks to manager Dawn Haig). 1,000 bottles of Kirkland water were donated by Abbotsford Costco. 1,200 samosas were donated by Mission J’s Pizza and Ajay Construction.

When the theatre doors swung open at 6 p.m. for the eight stage acts, our two emcees Abbotsford Coun. Kelly Chahal and Satti Grewal with a lot of support from our new stage managers Alex Rake and Maria Buganska and Clarke Theatre personnel, made the show operate super smoothly.

Patrons arrived to the Punjabi music of LiLi music van (provided by Mission Regional Library) and 1,000 glimmering lights put up by our MCSS crew and students from our New to Canada program.

Everything from shoes and dresses to jewelry was on sale in the Indian marketplace.

Rick Rake’s Diwali organizing crew included Sanjay Gulati, Satti Grewal, Raj Patara, Monica Grover, Jean Konda-Witte and Ken Herar. To see Jean’s photographic album of the event, click here:

Lead sponsors this year were University of the Fraser Valley, Mission Save-On Foods, Mission 125, District of Mission, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (through Mission Local Immigration Partnership) and media sponsors Mission Record, Abbotsford News and Punjabi Patrika. Thank you!

Team unloads four commercial-grade cauldrons of Indian food cooked at Abbotsford Sikh Temple at Heritage Park Centre for Diwali. Food was donated by Mission Save-On Foods.

Sponsorship also came from Agassiz-Harrison Community Services, Sunrise Rotary Club, SARA for Women, United Way of the Lower Mainland, Swing Optical, Mission Fire Rescue Service (first aid), Abbotsford Costco, Ajay Construction, Mission J’s Pizza, and United Defense Security Ltd. (Paul Sharma).

Pictures of the event tell the story nicely. And front-page coverage in The Mission Record newspaper following the event was a big surprise. To see The Record’s coverage, click here. 

The Punjabi Patrika Oct. 20 edition featured two half pages of coverage, one in Punjabi and the other in English! 

If you want to be part of the excitement of Festival of Light: Diwali 2018, contact Rick Rake at Mission Community Services Society (

Front page Diwali coverage in the Mission City Record on Oct. 13.

‘US and Them’ night: Realities of homelessness showcased

Mission Stone Soup Collaborative presented the documentary film ‘US and THEM’ Tuesday night at the Heritage Park Centre cafetorium as part of Homeless Awareness Week, an initiative with representation from Mission Community Services Society. Included on the panel held during the event was Tracy, the manager of MCSS second-stage Rivendell facility.
The film reveals how the homeless are not faceless apparitions wandering the streets. They are people who find friends and family that “we all know in our communities, who need our support,” said organizers.

The film shatters misconceptions about why people end up on the streets, and reveals whey the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” narrative is heavily flawed.
Admission was free and was attended by more than 100 people.
Goal of ‘US and THEM’ is to educate as many people as possible on the realities of homelessness, and to encourage proactive solutions.