The Door is Open
The Door Is Open is a drop-in centre located at 255 Dunlevy Avenue, in the heart of East Vancouver. The centre supports the needs of hundreds of less fortunate people in the Downtown East Side.
The Door Is Open
255 Dunlevy Avenue
Vancouver BC V6A 3A5
Phone: 604 669 0498
Fax: 604 669 0498
We are privately funded through individual donations but most of the funds are provided by the Catholic Charities of Vancouver. We do not receive any government funding. If you would like to contribute to The Door Is Open, please call Catholic Charities at (604) 683-0281 or mail a donation for The Door Is Open, care of Catholic Charities, 150 Robson Street, Vancouver, B.C., V6B 2A7. You can also donate directly online here.
First Fridays Full Day Workshops
A more formal relationship between the Door Is Open and CISVA
By: Scott Small
The Door Is Open historically has roots to youth drawn to social justice. In 1973, four UBC students applied and received a Trudeau Community grant to fund their calling to provide a safe space for people in the DTES to just come and be with people, listen to them, and treat them with dignity and respect.
In the 40 years since its start, many people have been involved with providing necessary services for the poor while also making connections to the social teaching of the Church. For more than 15 years now Catholic primary and secondary schools have been visiting the Door Is Open Ministry in the DTES to help prepare and serve sandwiches as well as visit with patrons who come inside for the daily lunch meal.
In 2012, when it was clear that the Door Is Open would be moving around the corner of the campus to the Dunlevy School, the opportunity to expand programming became available. Being that the new location was in a school and that there was an already established relationship with other schools, a dialogue began to better explore new opportunities.
A small group of staff from both parties started to meet and pray together at the Dunlevy School site. Soon after we began meeting, we were blessed with the gift of the Carmelite sisters who, with the permission of Archbishop Miller, approached the Door Is Open to establish a house so they could fulfill their dual charisms of education and service to the poor.
We soon agreed that this was the opportunity we were seeking, to be able to strengthen the current program that students experienced when they came for a short 2 hour service with connections to spiritual formation guided by the sisters. And then to be able to create a full day program for students so we could spend more time unfolding more deeply the lessons of social justice in real time, creating real connections in the environment of the DTES.
The full day program includes a mix of classroom lessons on social justice, introductions to people who live and work in the neighbourhood, walking tours, preparing and eating meals with the patrons of the drop in centre, and mass.
In June of 2013, we had our first trial workshop. In August we ran four more. Then the remainder of the school year through May of 2104, we hosted a total of 17 full day workshops. One discovery was that the programs were not just for secondary students as we had first planned. Many of the workshops were booked by teachers for Professional Development days. We even had the Chancery come for a workshop as well.
The biggest lesson so far beyond being able to create a new successful curriculum is that social justice education is not and should not be limited to young students. It is a universal topic that is beneficial to all ages. The big challenge now for the Door Is Open is how to make this program grow in the coming years, to both stay focused on providing opportunities for the original vision of social justice education for students in the Catholic schools, and finding new ways to make space in the classroom for adults in the Archdiocese.
Our vision is to continue the mission of Christ and the work of the Church under the mandate of Catholic Charities. Our mission is to lessen the social alienation of the poor, the homeless, and the single room tenants of Vancouver by funneling the community resources available to us.
Under the inspiration of Jesus Christ, we recognize the inherent value of our patrons and will exemplify the beatitudes through our relationship with patrons by emphasizing the following values:
- We have a patron-driven attitude
- We will, in our interactions with patrons, maintain the principles of care, trust and integrity
- We will accept our patrons as they are without forcing evangelizing programs on them
- We will create a place of sanctuary that values the human spirit
- Shelter and food during the day in a drop-in centre, with special Holiday events
- Safe respite during the day from the perils of the street including weekly Wednesday program for women only
- A recreation program of video entertainment, computer access and free general interest books and magazines
- Seniors’ sit-down lunch served weekly
- Social service programs from the community who require a physical location to run these programs to reach our patrons such as court-ordered community service hours projects
- Volunteer-driven programs including youth groups from schools/parishes practicing and learning social justice
- Practicum learning for professionals such as nurses
Learn more about how you can support Door is Open.