Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Collingwood Neighbourhood House says goodbye to devoted volunteer A.J. Wadden

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Photo by Sandra Wadden


Adrian Joseph (A.J.) Wadden was one of the longest-serving volunteers of Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s Morning Star breakfast program (for people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness).

A.J. volunteered with us for more than 10 years. He would arrive in the wee hours of the morning to help set up tables and chairs and whatever else needed doing. His assistance was important to us and we appreciated his sense of humour and efforts.

A.J. had a 25-year career as a longshoreman, 10 years as a member of the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 500, retiring last year. He had a life-long love of sports and was an avid cyclist and ice skater.

“Everyone on the Morning Star team looked up to A.J.,” said Bill McMichael, another of our original Morning Star volunteers. “For over 10 years, he would arrive with the early shift to set up the multipurpose room for a group of 70, doing the work three volunteers took to take down three hours later. No one has ever worked harder or better or smarter than A.J. And still, he remained a gentle and generous man, whose smile brightened the kitchen on even our darkest and rainiest of mornings. He was the best of us.”

Terry Taylor, another of our originals, said: “I would sit with A.J. and chat after the set up was ready for the breakfast program. We talked about life and other things. He was always very respectful and courteous to others. He was a soft-spoken man with a delightful sense of humour. I will always remember those chats with great fondness.”

A celebration of life service was held for A.J. at the Sunrise Community Centre on Sunday, September 11. The room was filled with Morning Star volunteers, longshore workmates, friends and family and members of his church. Pastor Elsie Quick, Pastor Ernie Culley and A.J.’s wife Sandra spoke about A.J.’s life.

A.J. is survived by his wife Sandra and siblings Marguerite, James, Carl and Vera. The family has asked in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the B.C. Cancer Agency or the Vancouver Hospital Palliative Care Unit in A.J.’smemory.

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