For three decades, Harvest Project (HP) has been delivering help to people finding themselves on the margins on Metro Vancouver’s North Shore. And in that time, both the community and the organization have experienced tremendous change and growth.
“We’re really a reflection of the North Shore, and I think the North Shore is a more diverse community than it was even 30 years ago, when Harvest Project first begun,” says HP’s Development Officer Kevin Lee.
The availability and affordability of housing, rising costs, a tough job market and family traumas all present devastating obstacles for many in the community.
And in one of the wealthiest regions in Canada, critical family needs are often hidden and those who find themselves in desperate times often struggle to access services.
“Most of the folks we see are working. They’re not the multi-generationally impoverished folks that one might imagine are our clients,” Lee says. “They are folks who have experienced some sort of family trauma who find themselves on the margins and simply need help.”
Harvest Project collaborates with multiple agencies including Family Services of the North Shore, North Shore Crisis Services, North Shore Women’s Centre, HOpe Centre and others.
The team at Harvest Project provide assistance to residents from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay and offer help for the “whole person” rather than a single program for a population segment. HP’s unique suite of services encompasses coaching and counsel; grocery, nutrition and clothing supports; art therapy; financial literacy resources, and connections to specialized counselling.
HP also operates the Clothes For Change social-enterprise thrift shop as well as the North Shore Rent Bank, which offers emergency interest-free loans to North Shore residents who are facing either eviction or disconnection of their utilities because they’ve come up short on cash. In the rent bank’s first four years, Harvest Project has been able to help keep more than 600 residents securely housed, when they had been at extreme risk.
Staff and volunteers work to create a safe and welcoming place for North Shore residents facing life challenges that bring trauma and threaten many with homelessness. Often the help these individuals and families require is more than food or clothing, or housing even, Lee says. “Restoring those lives requires care, and listening, and time and connection – to bring things back together for the individual and for the larger community.”
Harvest Project can provide these timely, tangible services thanks to the generosity of individuals, business operators, community groups, service clubs and foundations across Metro Vancouver.
A one-time or monthly gift of any size helps HP’s team deliver life-changing care for North Shore residents facing crises through the holiday season and beyond. Sixty dollars provides for a first visit and a connection with a new client, $125 provides grocery and nutrition support for a family in need, and $300 provides for a month's services for a household.
Each month, Harvest Project “extends a hand up” to dozens of individuals and families who are struggling. Providing solace to those in greatest need has generated a positive influence within the community. “They find a way forward, and collectively the whole community is made a lot better because of the restored health of our neighbours,” Lee says.
For more about the Harvest Project, including how you can support its vital programs and services, visit harvestproject.org.