Jesus Gave Me A new Life

Initiative brings message of hope and recovery

By Erin McPhee, North Shore NewsDecember 10, 2012

NORTH Shore residents will be among the volunteers leading by example at an  upcoming event seeking to inspire those struggling with addiction to take  positive steps in their recovery journey.

For the last seven years, the Vancouver-based Servants of Hope Society has  provided a holiday meal to those experiencing homelessness as well as those  struggling with addiction in the Downtown Eastside. The event, Feeding the  Homeless at Christmas in Pigeon Park, is unique as a number of volunteers are in  substance abuse recovery themselves, as well as having previously lived in the  area.

This year’s event will be held Monday, Dec. 17 and Servants of Hope Society  founder Sean H. is expecting it to be their biggest yet.

“I couldn’t feed myself 10 years ago and with a little hope, 10 years later,  I’m now feeding 1,000 with the help of my friends,” he says. “If that isn’t hope  I don’t know what is.”

In addition to the annual Christmas initiative, Servants of Hope runs a  faith-based men’s recovery house in East Vancouver.

The annual holiday meal started small, seeing Sean and two of his friends,  all three in early recovery, show up in the Downtown Eastside to distribute  sandwiches, water, pop and clothing.

They were surprised at the outcome. “They were known in that neighbourhood  for many years and they found recovery,” he says of the friends who accompanied  him, “so we go back down there and next thing you know, there were all these  people who remembered and knew them and had never seen them clean and  sober.”

Those they were serving ran to get others, wanting them to see with their own  eyes the trio’s success in moving forward on a positive, sober path. “That  really, really affected me and it also really affected my two friends,” says  Sean.

In the years that have followed, Sean has continued to lead the charge in  presenting the annual meal, and participation and reach has continued to grow.  The 2011 edition saw more than 100 people volunteer (primarily people in  recovery, former area residents and some who had been served by the dinner in  the past).

“They’re all together on this night in that neighbourhood and they’re just so  grateful to be a part of it, and so happy that they can give back and giving  back is the foundation for turning our lives around,” says Sean.

“We totally understand what it’s like for these people in the Downtown  Eastside, for those that we do help, to be in a food line all year long. It’s  just another food line? No, this is not another food line. This is like nothing  they’ve seen,” he adds.

Together they served dinner to approximately 1,000 people in two hours. In  addition, “Santa Claus” made an appearance and handed out gifts.

Sean hopes the event continues to convince those they serve that change is  possible.

“When all you see is pain and suffering and misery, you need to see hope in  order for you maybe to consider that there is hope for you,” he says.

Organization for this year’s event is on track and while Sean has been  overwhelmed by interested volunteers – from throughout the Lower Mainland,  including the North Shore – and donations of food, blankets and other gifts,  there are a few items he’s still seeking. Warm clothing (mittens, gloves, hats  and socks), chocolate, gift wrap and ribbon are currently on his wish list, as  well as monetary donations to the society.

To make a donation or for more information on the Servants of Hope Society,  visit

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Why does Servant House exist?

Why does Servant House exist?


After many years of wanting, hoping, and great desire I finally through prayer and conviction found the strength to step out in faith and approach my good friend Ted Haaksma about opening a Men’s recovery house here in Vancouver’s Eastside. It was with his encouragement over the years and with God’s blessing that my vision came to pass. Together we approached the elders of Hope Reformed church for both a covering and a blessing, we at that time met and discussed the idea and concluded that it would be of great benefit to both me personally as well as the church.

My needs at the time were simple I needed the prayers of the congregation for spiritual strength in order to run this type of ministry for I would be up against many challenges as the history of the house has proven. Along with the challenges the blessings have been incredible, the success rate for the men over all has rivalled that of many other similar houses doing the same type of ministry. The house itself has been operating now for eight years and the future is in God’s hands. To summarize just some of the achievements over the years would take a few pages but I have decided to condense it as much as possible.

Gerry  who has been with me for seven of those years has been clean and sober since his arrival he’s gone from being totally destroyed in addiction to being a member of Hope Church as well as a productive member of society. Richard  will tell you in his own words the benefit this type of dynamic has been for him, my nephew, Jayson , stayed with me for four years; upon leaving Servant House he has totally restored his life and gone onto a very successful life in business. Dennis  stayed with us on and off for over two years met and married good a Christian women and now has fathered two children with her and has been clean for several years. Gord  came to the house in need of transition and suffered from addiction went to Union Gospel Mission came back to the house briefly was then reunited with his family of six children at the time and since has fathered two boys and has been clean and sober for four years.

Over the last eight years at least ten men have come to the house in need of immediate detox from drugs or alcohol and gone on to treatment and some have came back to live at the residence to mention two (Gerry  and  Wayne ). Rick  has come in and out of the house numerous times over the years and finally has found recovery and is now working in recovery houses in Surrey. Over the years we have had many referrals from Union Gospel Mission’s outreach and counselling staff who call often for placements or recommendations. The house has a very positive and supporting rapport with the mission. Since the beginning I have found temporary employment for over two hundred people, some have worked with the members of the congregation at their homes or places of work.

The two most gratifying and greatest personal experiences have been the feeding of the homeless at Christmas; the ministry that has grown out of this effort has been miraculous. Next is how the house stood by are dear departed friend Tom T. for six years as he struggled with a lifelong addiction to illicit drugs only to succumb to cancer and spend the last six months of his life amongst the men who both grew and learned more about god’s love through our time spent caring and supporting Tom at this very sad and lonely time.

The running of the house over the years has come with great personal sacrifice, I’ve had to find employment for personal funding and have had good well paying and promising jobs, only having to take time off or quit to focus on my main priority which has always been the house.


By Sean Heaney, Executive Director Servant House



Sean Heaney
Executive Director
The Servants of Hope Society
The Servant’s Of Hope Society    We are a faith based men’s Recovery house located on the Eastside of Vancouver B.C. Canada. For the last seven years we have tried to make a difference to those who suffer from Addiction and homelessness. Every year at Christmas we spend over three weeks gathering and organizing donations of both food and clothing and go into Canada’s darkest neighbourhood and share the love of god to the less fortunate. A quote from our founder:    “I couldn’t feed myself 10 years ago and with a little hope, 10 years  later, I’m now feeding 1,000 with the help of my friends,”. “If that isn’t hope I don’t know what is.” “When all you see is pain and suffering and misery, you need to see hope in order for you maybe to consider that there is hope for you,”    
Now in its seventh year, the annual feeding the homeless at Christmas event has become a key ingredient to the survival and positive spirit of the residents of the Downtown Eastside. Each year, just a few days before Christmas, the Servants of Hope Society and their countless volunteers set up in Gastown’s Pigeon Park dishing out hot food with warm smiles. The event does more than fill empty bellies and warm up frosty fingers as it offers a message of hope and the possibility of recovery..
The Servant’s of Hope Society is in need of your help, this years homeless feeding event was quite a success. Over one thousand were fed hot turkey dinners, 600 sanwiches were handed out, 1200 blankets were distributed, 3000 pieces of chocolate were consumed, 1000 bottles of water, 600 oranges, 500 bananas, 500 wrapped gifts, one thousand pairs of socks, more than one hundred happy volunteers; there’s really nothing more to say other than thank you Jesus.
Our men’s recovery house is in need of a vehicle for our outreach work, as well as daily functions. Please consider helping us as God leads you. We are also in need of financial support for our continuing operations, we are self sustaining but desire to grow and expand to enable us to help more individuals. We have a charitable tax exemption status from the federal government and are able to issue tax receipts. 
You can go to our website and visit the links above to verify who we are. Please do not ask us to go to other groups for support. May the Holy Spirit lead you in considering us as a worthy cause 
Yours truly,
Sean Heaney 
Executive Director of The Servant’s Of Hope Society
Contact:  604-720-9335