After 40 years of service, Vernon’s Upper Room Mission has closed its doors and laid off all 13 staff members.
General manager Naomi Rouck, who received a pink slip herself, said the mission had already been struggling financially and the coronavirus pandemic has impacted some of its usual sources of funding.
Rouck feels that, in part, the mission is not getting the typical donations it usually receives because of belt-tightening related to the pandemic and associated financial fallout.
The pandemic has also forced the mission to close its second-hand store, another source of funding, and put a halt to fundraising events.
Rouck hopes the closure is only temporary. The mission is asking for donations to help revive the operation.
“I don’t want to drive it into the ground,” she said.
The general manager will still provide bag lunches at the mission on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
“With what little we have left I’m going to keep the lights on and keep the bag lunches going as long as I can.”
Other organizations, including the Salvation Army, churches and outreach workers, will be providing lunches in Vernon to try and fill the gap.
Rouck said she is hoping to raise around $60,000 to reopen the mission by the end of April to help people impacted by pandemic-related layoffs.
“That is when a huge, huge need is going to be probably starting at the beginning of May for people. People are really going to feel the hardship all over our community so I want to be there for them,” Rouck said.
Before it shut down at the end of last week, Rouck said the mission was serving over 200 people a day.
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