The History of the Ekklesia Millennium Society
The Ekklesia Millennium Society story has been one that’s been in the making for a very long time. True, it was established in Cranbrook, BC, in 2007, and became a non-profit society in 2009, but the beginning started a long time ago in the heart of one man, Kelley Poirier.
Kelley Poirier, the founder of the Ekklesia Millennium Society, was born and raised in Kimberly, BC. His family has lived in the area for over 70 years. He grew up watching his grandfather, grandmother, and father generously give of the small amount that they had to the people in need around them with no hesitation. They went above and beyond, doing what they could, giving what they could, and never worrying about themselves.
Kelley Poirier, Founder Kelley wasn’t a stranger to being poor. He even spent 3 years of his life living on the streets in Calgary. He has witnessed first-hand the need out there at ground zero. Since then, Kelley has always had a heart to help and serve people.
Early in his 20s, Kelley established and oversaw clothing and food banks in Lacombe, Alberta, working with local farmers to distribute food. He was continually driving around the 18 local communities delivering food to those in need all while holding down a full-time job and going to school. Every moment was spent helping those who had less.
He has always been working with different groups and foundations. He learned the beginning stages of establishing a foundation for helping others. He worked with other groups, volunteering his time and learning the ropes as it were. He learned what worked and what didn’t, all the while coming up with ideas and plans of his own.
In 2007, he started the Ekklesia Millennium Society in a cinder block house that was warmed in the winter by a wood stove. We worked with what we had and helped whoever we could. For 10 years we were in that house, remaining faithful to help people even when we had little to no money. Slowly but surely our numbers grew and people who had the same vision to reach out to the community joined our cause.
In 2016, we were established enough to take on an office building. However, we decided to take 3 years to train staff and build a reputation. Things that last to make a difference take time to build and we were willing to take the time because we understand that poverty is not something that will be easy to overcome. To make a true impact means that we need to be ready to stick around for a while.
Our main outreaches to date include: One Ladle at a Time, On the Rock Refuge Center, Shuttle Services, and Meals on Heels.
The One Ladle at a Time program is our food program. We serve 3 meals a day 7 days a week 365 days a year for those who are need of free hot meals. In the year 2017, we served 17,000 meals. In 2018, we served 25,000 servings and in 2019 we are projecting to be able to serve 36,000 meals.
On the Rock Refuge Center offers the homeless and people in transition a place to stay with a warm bed, free breakfast and a safe environment. We currently have approximately 29 beds throughout Cranbrook. We are in the process of looking for a larger building to help get more people off the streets.
Our shuttle service offers to pick up and drop off to locations around Cranbrook to our meals and events we host throughout the week and weekends. We have shuttled 50,000 rides this year alone with our fleet of 13 vehicles that are in constant need of repair.
Meals on Heels is our outreach for people that are unable to leave their homes. We offer free food and delivery service so they can be taken care of as well. We will also deliver food to those who are able to leave their homes but still want food delivery for a small monthly donation of only $33/meal. If someone requests breakfasts only, it’s $33/month; if they would like breakfast and lunch, it’s $66/month; and if they desire breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s only $99/month. Meals on Heels has served 12,000 meals as of October 2019.
We are also currently in the process of expanding our influence to Kimberly, BC. We have been asked so many times to come and help Kimberly. We see a major need there and are actively working towards making that a reality.
Our Society is 95% run by volunteers. There are 30 volunteers who run the daily functions of the office and the individual outreaches. We run each of these outreaches with a high rate of success with the help and the support of the community. During the summer, we add an additional 50-100 volunteers to run all of the functions. We wouldn’t be where we are without their dedication.
We’ve been told by many people when we tell them what we do that it is hard to believe that we are doing so much. We have developed an extensive database that keeps track of everyone we help and everything that we do. All daily functions, phone calls, meals, ride given, etc, is recorded so the statistics and numbers that are given are proven.
When people discover us and find out what we do, they usually ask us the same question, “What is main thing that you are in need of right now?” Well, the question has three answers:
- First, we need an industrial kitchen; either a building with a kitchen, an industrial kitchen by itself, or even a portable kitchen. We are outgrowing our capacity to cook for the ever growing number of hungry mouths.
- Second, we need vehicles. We have a fleet of 13 vehicles but they are all well used, aging, and have a high number of kilometers.
- Thirdly, we need finances. With growth there is always a need for cash donations. You can’t pay bills with bread or furniture donations.
Our heart as a society has joined that of Kelley’s in having the same desire for the people. There are so many people out there in need and we want to help. We have been doing this for many years and only have a desire to grow our ability to help more people.
Ekklesia Millennium Society Staff and Volunteers, 2019