Issue 7. July 2022

Welcome to the Summer 2022 edition of BloomBuzz!

There are a lot of good social services in Vancouver and it’s so important because although we have free medical care, it takes a lot more than that to keep people going.

                                                                                                                   Marguerite Ford

Marguerite Ford

*Her role in shaping Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

The Bloom Group, formerly, the St. James Community Service Society, has been serving the people of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for more than 60 years. Our history is steeped in stories of loyal supporters and advocates for social justice whose passion for human rights and community sustained our work and fueled our ability to evolve and adapt.

One remarkable advocate is Marguerite Ford. The BC Order of Canada recipient and former member of City Council for 10 years, Marguerite served on numerous organizations where she remained dedicated to advocating on behalf of seniors and those living with mental and developmental issues.

Early days of Victory House

In 1975, under the leadership of Bloom’s Founder, May Gutteridge, Marguerite helped established Victory House, a licensed facility for folks with mental health issues. Thanks to her shrewd and quick-thinking initiative, the city stepped in to assume the lease and the residence was able to continue its life-changing work.

Marguerite has been a devoted friend and supporter of Bloom’s mission since 1975. Recently, we sat down with Marguerite Ford, to hear her involvement in the early days of Victory House. 

*Marguerite Ford’s story is part of the series: The Rich History of The Bloom Group.

Donor Buzz

The Bloom Group is fortunate to be the recipient of several community fundraisers throughout the year. We are very grateful to the many inspiring individuals and organizations whose passion for giving back motivates them to host fundraising events.

Employees of Parkland Refining Ltd.

Parkland Refining Ltd

On April 14, 2022 Parkland Refining in Burnaby hosted a JAPADOG lunch fundraiser for approximately 400 of its employees. Thanks to the generosity of the staff and the corporate office, $15,000 was raised for “Setting Up Success for Women and Children Leaving Shelter” to help women and their children transition into permanent housing.

Rogers Communications

The Kingsway office of Rogers Communications raised $900 for our women’s shelters during the month of May in support of Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Brinder Bains, Owner, Cobs Bread Davie; and Milca Tshimpaka, The Bloom Group.

Cobs Bread

During the month of April 2022, Cobs Bread held a fundraiser at three of their stores in Vancouver and raised $3,500 for our “Setting Up Success for Women and Children Leaving Shelter” Campaign.

Funds raised help single moms and their families by providing basic home essentials to ensure a successful transition from shelter to independent permanent housing.

Cole Isac: Youth Philanthropy in Action

In the spring of 2022, grade 12 student, Cole Isac, organized a gift bag drive for our women and children’s services. An amazing assortment of products for women and children were collected and packaged – enough to fill 150 bags! In addition, gift cards valued at more than $600 were donated.

If you would like to host a Community Fundraiser, contact:

Celebrating 20+ years at Bloom

Employee Anniversary Series Part III

Lourdes Bolinas: “Mother of Victory House”

Lourdes Bolinas has worked at The Bloom Group since 1997. A midwife in her homeland in the Philippines, Lourdes started her career at Bloom as a Home Support Worker. In 2004, she became a Mental Health Worker at Cordova House before she transferred to Victory House in 2007 and into the role of Sr. Mental Health Worker.

Lourdes has experienced many changes during the past 25 years, perhaps none more significant than the increased complex medical needs of the residents. The majority of residents have lived at Victory House, a licensed home for people with mental health issues, for 30 years. The current age range of residents is 40 – 88 years. According to Lourdes, the aging population brings more complex medical issues together with mental health issues, which means the staff “have to be alert to their complex needs”.  

Victory House offers 24-hour health care which covers everything from bathing to changing clothes, to shopping and even haircuts. Over the years, Lourdes has gained a reputation for cutting hair so that residents now “line up for her haircuts”. In fact, they’ve been known to say: “I’m waiting for Lourdes. She’s the one who knows my style.”

At 65 years old, Lourdes “can retire anytime” but she’s not ready to leave yet. It’s the connection she feels with the residents that keeps her coming into work each day. “It’s the connection. It’s the love that you have for your work…the services that you offer them that’s really very rewarding…residents are very compassionate. Very kind. Very respectful to the staff. Can’t get any better than that.”

Still, the work is not easy. Lourdes’ days are long. Victory House is short-staffed due to vacancies as a result of the pandemic and Lourdes often needs to work overtime and take extra shifts. So how does she manage? “I don’t bring work home but sometimes it’s hard. My day is not done until my job is done. I try to make their life easier. Mental health and mental illness is not easy for them. And it’s not easy for us. Have to have lots of patience, a big heart. Otherwise whatever you do in here you take it home, it makes you stressed.”

A self-proclaimed “softy,” she’s no pushover. She credits building trust and respect as the foundation for successful relationships with the residents. “If you respect them, they respect you back…it’s give and take. They are very open to you if they trust you. They will tell you everything. That’s how you build the rapport with them and they will open up and trust you.”

She may be nearing retirement age but her passion for her work remains high fueled by genuine affection and mutual respect. “The residents have mental health issues,” she stated, “but they understand. They have feelings too. They’re people as well. We need to understand them and how they feel.”

It’s no wonder her colleagues refer to her as: “The Mother of Victory House”. Lourdes takes good care of her “kids” but gets just as much back from them in return. She has “lots of favourites” about her work. She loves shopping for the residents in her care, even on her days off.

This mother figure understands what it truly means to “put yourself in others’ shoes”. To learn more about this remarkable woman’s rewarding career, watch her full story.

Legacy Giving

Leave a legacy of compassion.

A legacy gift is a profound and lasting demonstration of your values and ideals and a powerful way to help through changing times. There are also tax advantages for you.

There are many gift options that you can make during your lifetime or through your estate, such as a gift of publicly traded securities and life insurance, that will create a benefit for you, your family and the causes you wish to support.

If you would like to learn more about leaving a legacy gift in your will, please contact: Cindy Graves, Director of Development and Communications: cgraves@thebloo​

Make a difference.

donate to vancouver-based nonprofit organization

Your support is most appreciated!

CRA: BN108021544RR0001

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