The Dugout’s mission is simple, to provide a supportive safe space to the disadvantaged residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

We like to call what we offer a “Community Living Room”, or a place where people can come have a snack and a coffee off of the street or away from the isolation that many experience living on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

About Us

The Dugout Drop-In Society is a Non-Profit Society serving residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Founded in 1967, we offer one of the longest running meal and safe space outreach programs in British Columbia. We are one of the few programs in Vancouver to offer free daily meals and an inclusive safe space, and have also hosted an Alcoholics Anonymous group, “The Out to Lunch Bunch”, since 1968.

Every day we serve over 600 people, and we do it seven days a week. We would not be able operate were it not for the generosity of the Central City Foundation, the City of Vancouver, private donors, local businesses who generously donate their excess food,  and of course, our amazing volunteers who generously donate their time.

Our Programs

Meals

Hot Breakfast

We provide a free breakfast to over 200 people every single day.  The breakfast consists hot of soup, buns and coffee. 

We offer our Hot Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays and holidays.

Safe-Space Snacks

Anyone can come and hang out at the Dugout, free of charge. 

For those that need something warm, we offer hot coffee for $0.50. We also offer snacks, which vary depending on what our generous donors provide us with. Additionally, and subject to availability, for those who struggle to put food on the table we offer free bread donated to us by local bakeries and eggs, for which we charge $2.75 per dozen, or $0.50 for 2.

Safe Space

The Dugout provides a “living-room” for people to come and spend some time off the streets or away from their hostel or single room accommodation. We have a TV and computers, and also have about 15 tables with chairs for people to play cards, be social, or simply to have some time alone.

Throughout the day we offer snacks, coffee and a warm welcoming environment for anyone who stops by.

Programs

Aside from our meal and snack service, we host a number of programs, including the daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings of the “Out to Lunch Bunch”.

Our Story

The story of the Dugout, as told by one of our founders and current volunteer, Bob Burrows: 

“In 1967, when I was a young minister at First United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown­Eastside (and two years before the re-discovery of Gastown), I secured the moral support of St. James Anglican, Holy Rosary Roman Catholic, First United and Central City Mission to explore the possibility of starting a drop-­in centre that would provide a “living room” for the hundreds of people living on the street or in tiny single-occupancy rooms downtown. We wanted to provide a beer-­parlour atmosphere, but have coffee instead of beer.

On my first afternoon looking for a space, a realtor took me to 59 Powell Street where 1500 square feet was being used to store empty cartons.  The cost was $75 per month, and I said “yes” right away.  Over the next six weeks several downtown men joined me in fixing up the space, and the City of Vancouver expedited the permit process.

We opened on December 9, 1967 and have been open virtually everyday since.

The essential work at the Dugout is done by volunteers, and there has normally been only one salaried position (a Manager/Coordinator of Volunteers).

In the late 1970’s the building was for sale, and to prevent the Dugout losing its space, the City of Vancouver purchased the building (and still owns it to this day). There are 30 housekeeping rooms on the floors above street level, and many of the occupants visit our space.

The soup-line was added to the Dugout program about 30 years ago, in the 1980s. Currently between 150 and 200 enjoy soup, coffee and buns at 7:30am daily.  Since April 1, 1968 there has been a daily AA meeting every day of the week (12:30–1:30).

Throughout the day coffee is available and snacks and bread (donated by several bakeries and stores) are given to those who stream in hoping there will be something to eat.  Currently about 600 people come by each day hoping for a muffin, a piece of cake or a loaf of bread.  We have a roster of 25 regular volunteers who work for several hours each week.

The four churches each chipped in $50 a month when the Dugout started. The City gave us a small operating grant each year, but it has been individuals and that groups have been the main supporters through the years.  The Dugout currently requires just over $100,000 to operate each year, and we have to raise $30,000 to $40,000 of that through donations from the public.   Not included in that budget is the value of the donated bread and pastries we receive and distribute.  Currently, the value of the baked goods we receive annually has a retail value of $400,000 to $500,000.  The bakeries and supermarkets are thrilled that we use their “end of day” bread which otherwise they would throw away.

In addition to purchasing large quantities of vegetables for the soup, we have must spend a significant amount on 8oz and 10oz cups for the coffee and soup, as well as plastic spoons, sugar cubs, stir sticks, beef, chicken and vegetable soup base, as well as any other seasoning we use to make the soup.  The other major expenses of the Dugout are our utility costs, including hydro, cable and internet, one salary, and a small honorarium given monthly to the regular volunteers who are low-income men and women from the downtown community.

After 45 years I still believe in the value of the Dugout, and the nourishment and hope it brings to so many.  It will be most appreciated if you are able to support this project.”

Now retired as a minister, Bob continues to spend a significant portion of his time volunteering with the Dugout.

Our mission has not wavered since our inception, as we still seek to provide a safe space amongst the many struggles that face the residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Volunteer

The Dugout would not be able to operate without our wonderful volunteers.  As a result, we strive to do everything possible to ensure that our volunteers are comfortable and happy.

We are always accepting volunteers, however, we currently are very much needing volunteers for the following positions: 

Volunteer Drivers.

Description: Volunteers who have access to their own set of wheels who can pick up bread and other donated food items from local businesses and deliver them to the Dugout.  

How Often: Weekly or every now and then.  What we have delivered often determines how many loaves of bread we are able to hand out or what type of soup we serve the next morning.  As a result, we greatly appreciate being able to rely on regular pickups and deliveries and are always looking for volunteers who can make regular deliveries to the Dugout.   Even if you are unable to commit to doing deliveries on a regular basis, we still would appreciate your help.  We often do not have enough drivers, so even the odd delivery makes a difference. 

Soup Line Volunteers.

Description: Volunteers who can help us prepare or serve soup, coffee and buns to those who rely on us for breakfast.

How Often: Shifts are between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday.  Shifts can be weekly, biweekly, monthly or even bimonthly.  We are always needing people to help us serve breakfast.

How to Volunter

To volunteer, give us a call at 604-685-5239, or send us an email at thedugoutvancouver@gmail.com.

Donate

The Dugout operates as a community supported space to provide for those who are less-fortunate.  Without the support of our sponsors, be it private donors or generous local businesses, we would not be able to offer the services to our patrons that we are able to now.

Every donation, no matter how small, goes a long way to serving those on the Downtown Eastside. 

There are two ways to donate, by cheque or by using the donate button below. We are happy to issue tax receipts on all donations over $20.

Cheque

To send us a cheque, simply make the cheque out to “The Dugout Drop-In Centre Society” and mail or deliver it to us at 59 Powell Street, Vancouver B.C.  V6A 1E9.

Online Donations

To make an online donation, please click the icon below.  Additionally, please specify whether you would like a tax receipt, and to whom we should make the receipt out to.

    

       Thank you!