VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It is 8:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and sunlight is spilling into a large room of about 60 individuals who are engaged in various activities from reading to playing Crib.
It is a typical scene at the Union Gospel Mission’s Cornerstone Drop-In Center for the Homeless in Vancouver, British Columbia, but for three days the center would host new guests. These guests were Sailors from guided missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106).
A group of 28 volunteers traveled to the Drop-In Center July 3-5 to help serve coffee and tea, distribute donated clothing and toiletries, and socialize with community members.
Peter Kaplansky, 43, is enrolled in Union Gospel Mission’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and has been a member of the Drop-In Center for five years.
“They totally saved me; it’s like I’m born again,” said Kaplansky speaking about the Union Gospel Mission. “You come in and see people reading the paper or having a chat, and it’s like a community. It’s kind of like what you would see on a ship I imagine. You’re always surrounded by family.”
For those three days Stockdale Sailors found themselves part of a new family more than 1,000 nautical miles away from their homeport in San Diego.
Stockdale was one of three U.S. Navy destroyers which participated in Exercise Northern Edge 2015 out of the Gulf of Alaska. Thousands of service members from all the branch services including active duty, Reserve, and National Guard units participated in the two-week biannual exercise.