Service & Sharing

 Community Service:
Tending the Village Commons

We value anchoring our spiritual practice in expressions of service and sharing. Typically each year we choose a local recipient or community for our Community Service Project support. If you’re not active in training at the moment but would like to contribute to these projects, contact Michele.



In the fall and in the new year we continued offering food service in the Downtown East Side and other areas where there’s homelessness and disadvantage. One of our groups gave out 10 dozen homemade muffins and 100 cups of hot coffee, and another group brought 60 cups of hot chili with buns, along with oranges and juice boxes.

As of March 2020, the direct food service in the DTES was put on hold. Since then  we have been donating directly to several organizations instead.

In late March one of our groups donated $255 to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank – and as the Food Bank has purchasing power of 3 times the donation amount, it will buy $765 of food.

In April another group donated $220 to the Richmond Food Bank, where each dollar donated is compounded 6-fold, and they can purchase the items specifically needed for those they serve.

One group donated $315 to The Gathering Place Community Centre, which offers programs and services to the Downtown South community. They primarily serve vulnerable populations, including people on lower income, people with disabilities, seniors, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, youth, and people who are homeless. With this donation the Gathering Place can serve a meal each to 157 people. As of April 15, they had served 8,000 meals in the 3 weeks prior.

In mid-April one of our practitioners gathered contributions and donated a total of $200 to the Food Bank at the Sunshine Coast Community Services.  SC Community Services is currently offering support to 5,000 families on the coast and the number is estimated to rise in the coming weeks. With the population of the entire coast being estimated to be just over 31,000 people, the support received at this time is extremely valuable to the Food Bank.

Another of our practitioners who currently lives in Brooklyn, NY sewed and donated 16 surgical face masks, joining a group of 100+ neighbors who collectively made and donated 1,000 masks to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. An article about this group’s contribution was published in the Brooklyn Eagle Daily on April 2nd.


Community Clean Up for Charity FUNDRAISER

During February and March 2020 and in collaboration with the City of Vancouver’s Neighborhood Clean-up program, our Core Training practitioners gathered donations for our work cleaning up Vancouver neighborhoods. We committed to 40 group hours (4 groups of 5, doing 2 hours each) of garbage pickup in 4 different city areas and hoped to raise well over $5000 for our efforts and with your generosity!

All donations raised went directly to support “Thresholds” – a special endeavor of Aunt Leah’s Place, a GVRD charity that provides unique services for foster children transitioning out of care. Aunt Leah’s was designated as one of 2019’s top 10 Canadian Impact Charities, by Charity Intelligence Canada. To learn more about Aunt Leah’s, please go here:

Thresholds is a program that provides housing and services for new teenage mothers. It offers these mothers and their babies a safe, caring home environment in which to live, as well as postnatal support to help mothers successfully parent and live independently with their babies. To learn more about the Thresholds program, please go here: 

Although our fundraiser has ended, if you’d like to support young mothers and their babies you can still donate online at   Note: In order to attribute your donation to this project, please select the button at the bottom of the page (under Additional Details) “I am making this gift, in honour of someone” and then type in “Spiritual Essentials”.

As of our April 1st end of project, we raised $6320! (And picked up enough litter to fill many, many, many bags of garbage!)




Our service was to again to offer homemade meals to people in the Downtown East Side (DTES) throughout the year. Between September and June we gave out a total of 1792 individual meals in the DTES. This included 230 bowls of hot chilli, 1059 sandwiches & 503 burritos/wraps, as well as over 2000 drinks, 800 cookies, 325 muffins or banana bread slices, and 230 slices of buttered or garlic bread.


We decorated sandwich bags for the food to offer a more direct and personal hello for those receiving it. This was done by both the adults in our practice and some of the children in our community. 

To fund this ongoing food service project, we raised $1300 by hosting a Christmas sale of handmade goods in early December at our annual Christmas event.


At this event, we also decorated  120 Christmas cookies that we handed out to people on the street in early December.



As in previous years, a group of us knitted and crocheted scarves and hats, and we gave them out in the cold months to people living on the streets.




June, 2018  – Food Service in the Downtown East Side

This spring we served homemade food to people in the DTES – hot chili with fresh buns, egg bites, sandwiches and baked goods. We hope to do more of this in the coming year.

Helping GF Strong Help Us All!

April 25, 2018 Update

We’re writing to share our glad news that our GF Strong Fundraiser is not only fully funded, but that we surpassed our goals – 2 times! – and also to thank you for your kind support of GF Strong through our campaign.

In October we started our efforts, intending to raise $35,000 over 19 months. And by the end of April we had raised over $50,000 in less than 1/3 the time!

Because of our success, and also due to GF Strong’s reassessment of what they needed most, our goals for specific equipment changed during our campaign. First, GFS and VGH/UBC Foundation requested that we re-prioritize the $20,000 Pressure-Mapping System to the top of our list. This we were able to do quickly, at which point representatives form GFS and VGH met and reassessed their next wishes. We agreed on working to fund some “unsexy” equipment (which was actually one of our original intentions, to fund things that don’t easily attract funding) of wheelchair replacement seats and backs, and commodes.

Our fundraising at this point was so successful, we were asked if we would be interested in raising the ceiling on our goal such that we could help purchase a piece of equipment that has been on the wish list for GFS for several years instead of the wheelchair parts and commodes. This wished-for equipment is a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) machine. We were offered the opportunity of matching funds if we would raise money for this machine, and we said yes! With your help, we quickly raised the money for some wheel chair replacement parts, as well as the $26,000 for our half of this machine, and we heard directly from GFS staff how glad they are that this will soon be available for their use with clients.

We’re a small group of 48 members, but clearly a group with connections to a lot of good-hearted people like yourself. Our efforts included everything from making and selling mustard, cookies and other eatables as well as greeting cards, knitted items and other things; hosting such events as a gourmet wine-paired dinner at the Washington Avenue Grill, a Sunshine Coast Spa and Silent Auction event, a White Rock Pub Night out, a gift basket draw, a Book Sale, a day of professional sessions, and a Walkathon.

We invite you to join us in being thrilled at the thought of patients and their families having even a little more ease in their treatment because of the equipment you’ve helped purchase.

While we’ve completed our fundraising campaign, our VGH Foundation online donation page will remain open and you may continue to donate through it. The foundation will continue to work with GF Strong to ensure all additional funds go towards advancing patient care. You’ll receive a tax slip and foundation thank you letter, but we will no longer be sending personal replies for any future donations.

We’re considering seeds of possibility for future GF Strong support efforts – please stay tuned via the people you know in our practice!

Michele Ley, on behalf of all Spiritual Essential practitioners

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all of the organizers, donors and participants who generously supported the “Help GF Strong Help Us All!” campaign. We are overwhelmed by the support and commitment of the community as you rallied together to purchase urgently needed equipment for our staff and patients. The funds raised to purchase a Pressure Mapping Device, Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) device and wheelchair replacement sets ensure that our teams at GF Strong can provide the best rehabilitative care and support to families on their journey of healing, recovery, and improved quality of life. Philanthropy plays a key role in delivering health care to British Columbians and all of you are living proof of the impact a community can make!

Please see the list of major donors at the end of this project description.


We have formally completed this fundraising project, but if you still want to donate to GF Strong this is the link:

Thanks for helping GF Strong’s helpers help!

Special thanks to those who have made larger donations: 
Brittani Payne                                                         $  4,932
Michele Ley                                                              $ 4,375
Richard Silas                                                            $ 1,200
Shopland Projects Ltd.                                           $ 1,000
Vancouver Financial Planning Consultants      $    290
Maureen and Peter                                                 $    200
Sharon Graham                                                       $    155

And gratitude for the many other donors to this fundraiser!


December 2017

We made or purchased warm scarves and hats to be give to the homeless.

We gave Christmas cookies that we made to a safe injection site in the DTES for their clients.



Our Core Training program chose as their service project to sponsor 3 community dinners at First United Church Ministry, with money raised by silent auction. For the dinners in May and June, they donated $1200 ($600 per dinner) and volunteered in preparing and serving them. In July they bought $400 of groceries, brought the food in, and then cooked and served the meal.

First United is a place of hospitality and hope for people in the downtown Eastside. When First United receives dinner sponsorship, they’re able to offer the meal to members of the greater DES community beyond just their shelter residents.

For more information on sponsoring a meal, contact the staff at First United.

In June the Core Training Program also made a $350 donation to SEVA to train a doctor and a nurse. They also donated $320 to World Vision to Stock a Clinic. This donation will multiply 9 times in value to $2880 worth of supplies to stock a pharmacy/dispensary/medical clinic.


In April we created 8 tarp tents that will be distributed in the Downtown East Side.

May they give shelter to 8 people such that they feel softer in the world from having received some loving help, may it help their health such that they stay dryer and warmer.

In late March we put together 75 personal care kits for homeless men and women that were given out through the Lookout Society and First United  in the Downtown East Side.

Each kit contained toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, chapstick, razor, shaving cream, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, nail clippers, earplugs, and bandaids), tampax and pads (women’s kits), kleenex, cough drops, wet wipes, a survival blanket, a rain poncho, duct tape, a toque, gloves, socks, underwear, playing cards and chocolates.Many thanks to the local businesses that generously donated products or discounts on items for the kits:
– Modern Housewares, Burnaby  (survival blankets)
– Downtown Dental (Alberni St.)  (dental floss and lip balm)
– West Van Dental Group (toothpaste)
– Dr. Steven Hill (toothbrushes and toothpaste)
– River Rock Casino, Richmond (playing cards)


In December we gave warm  scarves and hats to homeless. We also gave out home-made Christmas cookies to people living in the DTES.

In November we held a coat drive and donated warm coats to the Mosaic Surrey Project for Refugees and to First United.

This fall we purchased and donated socks, underwear and rain ponchos for the clients of First United, a Downtown Eastside organization that helps people who are dealing with homelessness and poverty.



Our Service Projects this year have included direct offerings to the community and to various charitable organizations. The funds raised in the ’15-16 year that have not yet been donated will be put directly towards charities or towards charitable projects offered directly by our community.

JUNE: Food Bank Drive

Being aware of the impact of the rising cost of food and the high cost of living in Vancouver, we held a food drive in support of the Vancouver Food Bank. Our intent was essential nourishment through connectivity with the greater community.

Through the food drive, we collected donations of 44 food items in addition to raising $660. Because the Food Bank has a spending power of $3 for each dollar donated, they will be able to use the funds to purchase $1,980 worth of fresh produce to feed those in need in our greater community.

MAY: Homemade food brought to Downtown East Side

On a Saturday in May, some of us gathered in Vancouver’s downtown core and shared homemade food with people who may not have had enough to eat that day.

We made and gave out 223 cookies, 40 muffins, 18 pieces of nut loaf, and 27 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. It was a wonderful afternoon of sharing nourishment and love.

APRIL: Toy Drive 

Our Toy Drive – or more precisely, our “Stuffy Drive” – was a success! The parents of young children in our practice thought it would be a great idea to focus our service project efforts on helping other families and children. We wanted to do a toy drive to help kids and families in need of toys.

After some research we discovered that the Ministry of Children and Families often give a stuffed animal (or “stuffy”) to children who are being relocated to a different home. These children may be separated from their parents and family for a while, so a stuffy can be a companion for them as they go through this very difficult transition. We wanted to contribute so that each child in these difficult circumstances would have a stuffy – especially one that is fully charged with healing energy and love!

We had 21 stuffies that were donated, in addition to receiving donations of $300 in cash, which enabled us to purchase 16 more, bringing our total to 37. That means that 37 children will each get a fully charged and blessed stuffy to be with them through this difficult transition. The staff at the Ministry were excited to receive them and said it was like Christmas in July!

MARCH: Book Drive

While working to create this project, we were inspired by the power of books as a vehicle for education and the ripple effect of sharing our books – with their ideas, stories, knowledge and art – with members of our spiritual community as well as with those in the greater community whom we do not know personally.

The Vancouver community brought in used books and held a book sale, which raised $278.00. This will be put into directly funding a charity or a charitable project in the ’16-17 year.

We chose to give the remaining books to the following organizations:
– 2 boxes to Atira Women’s Resource Society for their outreach center
– 2 boxes to the Federal Prison Books Program for distribution across Canada
– 3 boxes for the Mount Saint Joseph Hospital for both patient and visitor use
– A half box to Friends of the Library for their book sale

The donations were gratefully received by all of the charities, who are putting them to good use.

FEBRUARY: Healing Hearts

Practitioners in our Salt Lake City and Toronto centers created small cloth-stuffed hearts from organic materials in different colors and patterns.  Each of the hearts was blessed with spiritual healing energy.

The hearts were sold to members of our community in Vancouver, Toronto, and Salt Lake City for their own healing and to give to others. The hearts can be held in one’s hand as a reminder that we’re all a part of something bigger, or they can be placed on an area of injury or tension, or used like a stress ball.

This project raised a total of $750.91 from the Vancouver, Toronto, and Salt Lake City centers, which will be put towards local or international charities.

OCTOBER: Voter Support in the Downtown East Side

Our community donated $30.75 towards the cost of a van rental for one of our practitioners so that she could drive people living in the Downtown East Side to polling stations on election day, enabling them to vote in the federal election.

DECEMBER: We handed out handmade scarves and hats to homeless.

Scarves '15

We recently collected and delivered a van full of donated items to Covenant House. The items included clothing, shoes, outerwear, household goods, backpacks and toiletries.

We brought Christmas cookies that we baked and decorated to the Food Bank and to people living in the Downtown East Side.

Our commitment to supporting Save the Children continues as an ongoing monthly donation.


2014-15 Practice year service projects

We have had a regular donation to Save the Children, and have given monetary donations to the local charitable group the Kettle Society, to Lunapads in support of their work to keep girls in school, as well as donations to Save the Children specifically for their Nepalese EQ relief and for school health clinics.

We continue to have hundreds of dollars circulating in KIVA loans, including several loans lost to projects whose service organizations shut down due to the Ebola crisis.

We donated the equivalent of $1005 and 94 lbs of food to the Food Bank.

These warm handmade items were handed out to homeless during the December cold snap.

Service Projects 2013-14
Our service projects for the training year 2013-14 have so far included donations to the Philippines relief efforts through Action Against Hunger, loans circulating through Kiva, and more lovely and warm handmade scarves and hats handed out on the DES and in other areas of the city (see above.)

Community Service Projects 2012-13

Our 2012-13 practice year service projects have included so far:
a donation made to Unicef Sahel Crisis Matching Fund,
a donation made to the AIDS Vancouver Holiday Grocery Fund,
many loans circulating through KIVA, and
the lovely scarves in the top photo that were knit by participants in the Women’s Program and donated to single mother families in transition.

For the local portion of our Community Service Project in 2011-12, we have been supporting the Vancouver Lookout Emergency Aid Society. This is a non-profit charitable organization that provides non-sectarian lay services to homeless adult men and women who cope with a wide variety of challenges, including mental illness, mental handicaps, medical problems, physical disabilities, social dysfunctions and substance abuse. Lookout has been providing solutions for homelessness since 1971.

In 2011, we created 48 bags of essential items and brought them to Lookout to be distributed to people in difficult circumstances. Many thanks to all those who made this possible by donating funds or items for the kits.

Items included were:
Dental Floss
Band-Aids Antibiotic cream
Lip balm
Feminine hygiene products
Comb and brush
Emergency blankets
Hot packs for hands
New gloves, hats, socks and underwear

Community Service Project ’09-10

YAY! From our in-house fundraiser and the Christmas Worship offering, we netted
$1650 for this service project!  Thanks to all of you who contributed!

As our local community Service Project in ’09-10, we again created 40 bags of essential items. We delivered these to the Lookout Emergency Aid Society to be distributed to their clients and others in need.

For the global portion of our  Service Project in ’09-10 we chose two organizations to support: Kiva and Partners in the Horn of Africa.


Kiva is a micro-credit organization through which people can make small loans to  economically-challenged entrepreneurs around the globe. As the loans are repaid, they may be returned to the lender or used to make a new loan. As of November 2009, Kiva had facilitated over $100 million in loans.

Spiritual Essentials made 13 loans for a total of $435 in July of 2010. Loan recipients include a sewing collective in the Dominican Republic, a construction collective in Sierra Leone, a corn farmer in Togo who is a father of 4, a pig farmer in Cameroon who is a mother of 7, and a husband and wife team of vegetable farmers in Cambodia with 8 children. 

Partners in the Horn of Africa

Partners in the Horn of Africa is a non-denominational Canadian charity that works in Ethiopia to rebuild communities through reforestation, construction, and schooling. 100% of all donations go directly to aid projects in Ethiopia, and the villages receiving support contribute 15-20% of project costs, usually in the form of labour. Recent projects include the creation of ‘Scholarship House’, a home for rural orphans that allows them to continue to attend school, and a planting of 65,000 trees in an area that had been completely arid.

Spiritual Essentials contributed $350 to the Partners in the Horn of Africa in July of 2010.

Community Service Project ’08-09

For our community service project in ’08-09, we put together 40 bags and a collection of essential items that were distributed to people in need on the Downtown Eastside.

Thank you to all of you who contributed to this project.