Sharon Graham, a loving and dedicated grandmother, has helped her family weather life’s storms — and to say the last few years have been stormy is a big understatement. Her granddaughters, Ashley, who is part of Youth Unlimited’s Jesters Theatre program, and her sister Danielle, have had a front row seat to those challenges.
       With the help of her husband, Ted, grandma Sharon has been a caregiver to the teens and their mom, Sherry, since 2003, when Danielle was born. During the pandemic, momma Sherry, who had already suffered a great deal in life, underwent multiple painful operations and eventually required a leg amputation.

       In winter 2021, amidst the stress of trying to make ends meet and unable to secure a basic, affordable, wheelchair-accessible place to live in Mission, Grandma Sharon was diagnosed with cancer and given three to six months to live.
       Needless to say, as Christmas 2021 approached, it was a very dark time in the Graham family history.
       “Last Christmas was a very worrying time,” says Ashley.”Grandad barely had any work and granny had just found out she had cancer. It was a very hard time for us.”
       Grandma Sharon, the family matriarch, prayed for strength while feeling sad and burdened, unable to provide much for Christmas in a year



when they needed a boost more than ever. The week before Christmas, while Sharon laid in bed, her body fighting the cancer, Sherry and the girls heard a knock at the door.

As the teens swung open the door, they were greeted by YU volunteers and Ryan Scramstad from Jesters, arms overflowing with groceries and presents for the family, as part of the YU Christmas Hamper Project.

YU staff ready to bring some joy with Christmas Hampers


Ashley and the Jesters’ crew ready for their big show, ‘Dragon Warrior’, in the summer.

       “When I opened the door and saw Ryan, I was immediately overjoyed,” says Ashley. “I couldn’t believe what was being handed to me. Right then, I knew God was looking out for us. We were beyond happy and grateful for the people who cared for us and helped us. They made our Christmas much better.”
       “My jaw dropped when I saw all the groceries and gifts,” said Grandma Sharon. As she watched her daughter and granddaughters open the gifts, her eyes welled up with tears. “God sent these people to me,” says Sharon. “And because of it, we had one of the best Christmases. It gave me strength to endure what was to come.”

Youth Unlimited’s Hamper Program is a growing GVYU needs-based program for the community. YU youth workers identify youth and families who would greatly benefit from a robust grocery hamper during the holiday season. Those needs are then matched with individuals, families, businesses, churches or other groups who can either purchase and prepare the $250-value hamper or provide the funds.

       YU’s Sharon Wiebe first connected with the Grahams’ a decade ago. Over time, the family became involved with YU, as Danielle and Ashley became actively involved in the Jesters Theatre program.
       “Jesters is like a second family to me,” says Ashley. “They are a great group of supportive people, who really care about others. They have



made our lives a lot better over the years by sharing God’s love. I am so glad I decided to join one summer. They are God’s gift to me.”

On August 3, the Youth Unlimited team was overjoyed to learn miraculous news that Grandma Sharon’s terminal cancer was in remission! As Ashley recalls, “Just before we heard the news, Sharon [Wiebe] had organized two hundred people to pray for granny. We’re so thankful for this miracle.”

       As Grandma Sharon’s body continues to heal, her light in the community shines bright. She is so eager to share her joy with those who are in a dark place. The relief and support she and her family experienced when they needed it most is something she’d like to see others experience as well.
       “That Hamper Program is so excellent,” she says. “It plants a seed of hope in so many lives. What a precious gift it truly is.
       Thanks to outreach workers like Sharon Wiebe, and programs like Jesters and the Christmas Hampers, YU partners are helping families like the Grahams become supported physically, emotionally and spiritually.
       To contribute to a hamper visit We can’t thank our loyal supporters and donors enough for truly transforming lives.

Jesters is a safe space that helps youth grow in their giftings and artistic expression





It’s time to give back on behalf of those you love! Choose from various gift options –counselling hours, healthy meals, youth activities and more. Give to a loved one instead of a traditional gift, or simply give as a gift to our youth. Together, we can make the new year brighter, warmer, and safer for vulnerable youth. To learn more or give, visit




Join us December 6 for the Creative Life Christmas Craft Market, where you can support young emerging artists on the margins. Our youth have invested hard work and creativity to produce quality, unique works. Peruse the works and enjoy festive treats, hot beverages and a photo booth.
When: Tuesday, December 6, from 6PM to 9PM
Where: Creative Life Studio, 2109 Alberta St, Vancouver


After years of work, we are pleased to announce The Truck has launched! Once a firetruck from the US, the vehicle has been completely renovated and retrofitted, and is now YU’s biggest mobile drop-in centre yet. It will mainly serve the youth in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Standing two stories tall, and filled with games, snacks and supportive necessities, the Truck is a safe place for youth to hang out, have fun and get connected to caring adults who accept them unconditionally.











A small, kind gesture can have the biggest impact.

Years ago, I provided mentorship to identical twin teenage boys. These boys were full of energy and remarkably quick at making connections with caring adults. It wasn’t long before I was invited into the beauty and messiness of their lives, a sacred place to be. E and T had many interests, one of which was skateboarding. With Christmas just around the corner, I shared their situation with my friend, Peter, who owned a skateboard distribution company. Peter was moved to help these young lads (and a few other youth as well) by providing each with brand new skateboards and a box of apparel. How fun it was to surprise the boys with new skateboards and clothing; something they’d never had before.

Fast forward ten years and I am at a loss for words as I am hugging E at his brother’s funeral. As we try to brush the tears aside, E says to me, “You know, with all the S*** we’ve been through, that gift you gave us helped us push through the darkness. It was a constant reminder that someone cared.” Never would I have anticipated this moment, but every so often I am reminded of how a small, kind gesture can make a huge impact.

A hand written note, a selfless prayer, a small gift, an hour of undivided attention — it all makes a difference.

If you’re not convinced, check out this Connections feature story. It is a powerful example of how God moves through our simple acts of kindness and care.

“Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up.” — Proverbs 12:25

Thank you for loving and caring for young people and their families. A great way to make a difference is through our hamper distribution. Let us know if you would like to give in this way. We would love to hear from you. Visit or email us at

With deep gratitude,




Mark Koop

Executive Director