CITY CENTRE —The Surrey Urban Mission is almost finished renovating its new digs in Whalley.
For years, the mission shared a building with Christ the King Lutheran Ministry and Emmanuel Lutheran Church, but now, in its 13th year, it has a place to call its own.
Formerly located at 13388 104th Ave., the mission's new home is at 10776 King George Blvd. in a storefront that has previously housed a Union Gospel Thrift Store and Whalley Bowling Lanes.
Executive director Jonquil Hallgate said she feels blessed to see the mission get to this point.
"It was always such a struggle. We were always sort of on tenterhooks. Even though I always believed the mission would carry on in some way or another, having a place to call home provides some sustainability."
The mission's future was uncertain for several months, when it struggled to find a place to be after learning its shared home was going to be sold.
It has spent more than $1 million on the new location - $980,000 to purchase the new space and about $330,000 on renovations.
The mission moved into its new location in mid-June and construction has been going on ever since.
And there was a lot to do, said Hallgate, including putting up walls, redoing flooring and a lot more.
"It was a box when we got here," she said, adding that the finishing touches are just being finalized.
There are many perks in the new space, including a bright waiting area, a shower that will be particularly useful during extreme weather season, a meeting room, a computer area, a wellness centre and more.
Out back is a small garden and just steps away, the mission, it has gained access to a community garden for guests to putter in.
And a commercial kitchen is going to be installed soon.
Having a home means the mission can offer more programming, Hallgate said, such as ballet, painting and drawing classes for children on Saturday mornings, and a women's group.
Hallgate said while some neighbours weren't thrilled to have the mission nearby,
overall, the community has been accepting.
Some local businesses have stepped up to help, she said. Di Reggae Café approached her about teaching a Jamaican cooking class and Whalley Printers has been donating paper, which is used in a children's art class.
And she said the mission is working hard to be a good neighbour itself. The mission has told guests not to loiter out front, especially before meal times.
Hallgate said the location has worked out great.
"It's a great place to be. It's in the heart of the city and it's close to transportation." An increase in guests shows that the mission's location is close to many who need it, she added. The number of guests attending meal service has gone up 30 to 35 per cent since relocating.
The mission will be showing off its finished space on Oct. 25 during its annual Soup de Jours event, from 5 to 9 p.m. Food will be served at the free event, and to raise a few bucks the mission will be accepting donations and hold a silent and live auction.
Hallgate emphasized that people do not need to donate to attend. "We don't charge for anything here," she said.
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