Issue 11. July 2023

Welcome to the Summer 2023 edition of BloomBuzz!

Program Spotlight

A lifetime of getting off the street

53-year-old Chantel Smith has spent most of her life struggling to stay off the street. At 14 she left an abusive home and has been on the street since, fending for herself and finding employment whenever and wherever she could.

One of her first jobs was a babysitter for three years, she sold women’s shoes, worked in a coffee shop in Port Moody, a cocktail waitress at Mike Wiegele’s Heli-Skiing Resort, an animator, and short story writer. Working was “essential” to her and there were times when she “had two or three jobs at once”. From the age of 16 – 33 she was a sex trade worker. She gave that up after sleeping for five days straight and realizing that was “the result of a lot of the abuse that I had grown up with”.

She’s been robbed numerous times, she had everything she owned stolen from her seven times in two years when she lived at a women’s shelter; she’s been set on fire and had $700 in welfare money stolen from her pocket. 

Like many people living on the street, Chantel is a survivor. “I’m still capable of doing whatever I need to do”.

She’s couch surfed, spent 11 years in a residential recovery facility, lived in shelters. There’ve also been periods of her life when she’s lived in her own apartment. Earlier this year, Chantel found herself back on the street living in a tent. Shortly after, she moved into Santiago Lodge, a stable home for people with mental health issues in the Downtown Eastside operated by The Bloom Group. And while, “it’s frustrating starting all over again, again,” Chantel finds Santiago Lodge “peaceful” and “quiet”. “I feel secure because the management is a nurse…I feel safe here.”

For Chantel, getting off the street and into her own home is life-changing. “I can’t imagine living in any kind of apartment that has any similarity to the street.”

Donor Corner

iA Financial Group

A generous supporter of The Bloom Group, iA Financial Group has donated $58,000 since 2020 to various programs for the vulnerable in our community. Their recent donation of $5,000 supports Youth Rising Up! a program that develops career and life skills for youth in shelter.

According to Azmina Karim-Bondy, Chief Legal Counsel, Dealer Services and Special Markets, “iA Financial Group is proud to support Youth Rising Up! to help build resiliency and improve the health and wellbeing of youth experiencing the trauma of homelessness”.

Dylan Curtis, Elisabet Aarre and Jonathan Davies are cycling across Canada to raise funds for mental health and the environment. The cyclists left Vancouver June 20 and expect to arrive in St. John’s Newfoundland mid-September. Their goal is to raise $5000 to support The Bloom Group’s mental health programs and CPAWS’ environment initiatives. For more information and to donate visit:

Youth Philanthropy Initiative

Four grade 10 students from Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey, BC, are the winners of the recent Youth and Philanthropy Initiative competition, a nationwide initiative that educates youth about philanthropy and connects them to social issues in their local communities.

The youth’s project focused on homelessness, specifically as it relates to women. They selected The Bloom Group as the featured charity for the project as they “were pleased to see the incredible work done and the values that this charity stands for”. The youth were awarded a $5,000 donation for women’s programs at The Bloom Group.


HUGStar Awards 2023

The HUGStar Awards was held on May 4, 2023 at The View. The inaugural event presented 9 awards for Kindness, Generosity, Humanity and Resilience and raised $78,000 for priority programs and services.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity of being a part of such an amazing event as the Hugstar rewards {SIC}. Listening to the history of May, everything she has done and what the Bloom Group continues to do for our community, addressing homelessness and for the people struggling with physical and mental challenges is truly an inspiration.

Enviroware Projects has had the pleasure to work alongside the Bloom Group for over 15 years, when given the opportunity to sponsor the organization and this event, we felt honored that we could give back.

Bill Cassimis
Director, Enviroware Projects Ltd.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Walk a Mile in My Shoes is a guided walking tour in the DTES, hosted by The Bloom Group.

The tour is a unique opportunity to visit several residential housing sites and programs operated by The Bloom Group for the homeless or those at-risk of homelessness.

Enroute, guests will hear from front line workers and managers about the work they do to support those living with the intersecting challenges of the housing crisis, the overdose crisis, gender-based violence, community safety and poverty. Guests may also hear from residents themselves to gain a wide perspective.

Thank you very much for organizing such a fascinating morning. The work of the Bloom Group is even more impressive than I was aware of. It was wonderful to meet the various staff members, including yourself and your colleague, and to see and hear about their dedication to the people they serve. Truly, an inspiring morning!

Thank you again,

The next tour dates are August 2, August 17 and September 14.

Interested in booking a tour? Contact: Cindy Graves cgraves@thebloo​

Inner Garden/Inner Peace

Everyone Needs Peace of Mind

The Inner Garden/Inner Peace Campaign raises funds to provide a restorative garden for residents living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who are experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness. A new inner courtyard garden will create a rare oasis and sanctuary for healing, comfort and peace for the residents of Powell Place emergency shelter for women and Santiago Lodge, a home for those living with mental health issues.

With your help, we can provide a healing space to improve the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our community.

Your support is most appreciated!

CRA: BN108021544RR0001

The Bloom Group
391 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1G4