Hope in Shadows: Seven Years of Empowering the Downtown Eastside Residents

“I’m not a perfectionist, the main thing is that it does not get wet”, - said C.

On Monday, November 30, PIVOT led a sign-making workshop at LifeSkills Community Centre, for those Downtown East Side residents who are or would be the official vendors for the Hope in Shadows 2009 project. This year, in addition to the calendar with excellent photographs, they will be selling the award-winning book Hope in Shadows.

 This workshop was the idea of vendors who wanted to increase their presence on the streets of Vancouver; and PIVOT provided materials and volunteer support for it. There was much creativity, helping, cooperation and fun interaction between the vendors. Many of them know each other quite well. Playfully fencing with the cardboard left from wrapping paper with her neighbour, Catherine said: “When we were kids, we loved helping Mom wrapping Christmas presents because then we could have sword fights with the cardboard.”

 For Catherine it’s her second season being the Hope in Shadows licensed vendor. She says: “I have no problem talking to people - I’m loud. For me it’s so easy – you ask them how they are doing and offer to take a look at the calendar. But this sign will make me even more approachable.”  


“What is your name? My name is C, just C, not Chris or anything else, just C”, - a man in a baseball cap loudly introduced himself to me while making his workstation on the floor. “I’m not a perfectionist, the main thing is that it does not get wet”, - added he wrapping his sign in multiple layers of scotch tape.

Some were making sandwich board signs, some preferred handheld boards. When the wrapping paper was gone, one person got creative and decorated his sign with the remaining pieces of the colourful paper. He had an awesome pin on that said: “I’m a new born activist. PIVOT” and when I tried to help him wrap his sign with scotch tape, he said: “I know someone wwill laminate it for me.” And then added: “For free.”  

Many people already know about the Hope in Shadows project and have enjoyed the calendar’s soul-warming photographs in previous years. Catherine says that some people even buy several calendars from her: for gifts, for office, for themselves. But many still haven’t heard about this project and have never seen the calendar. That’s why PIVOT does not just provide this work opportunity for Hope in Shadows vendors but also educates them on marketing and financial planning strategies. One of the volunteers, Carlina, will be helping vendors with talking directly to the people and sell the calendars and books effectively and respectably. Also, VanCity representatives will facilitate a financial planning workshop on December 14.

Hopefully, after the sign-making workshop, more people will notice a person with or without a blue Hope in Shadows bag or cap, with or without a sign, and will purchase a Hope in Shadows calendar.

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