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Jon Ng

Friday Team Member, 2012, 2014-present, Board member 2018-present

January 7, 2022

It’s been awesome to have been a part of Jacob’s Well for so many years--it always feels like home when I walk through their doors.

It’s been awesome to have been a part of Jacob’s Well for so many years--it always feels like home when I walk through their doors. I have countless memories of playing cards, eating and baking, doing dishes and cleaning up, all with friends from the neighbourhood. The Well has been a conduit for many friendships I’ve made, giving a fuller picture of this embattled but thriving neighbourhood. Thanks to these friendships I feel safer walking here than I do in many other neighbourhoods in Vancouver!

Music has been a central part in my involvement with the Well. I fondly remember the variety team era with Scott McTaggert, Felicia Wall, Skinny Tim, Beth Malena, and Julia Baylis, with Barry Lemaigre and Edwin Canfield frequently joining us. There was so much musical talent in one room! I have very vivid memories of the Jacob’s Well live recording project in 2014—it was a hot, sticky summer day, the Well was packed, and everyone was so supportive and encouraging. I collaborated with Edwin, Felicia, Caleb, and a few others and it was a pure joy to be a part of it all and to share music with others. Other musical memories that I carry from this era include a raucous Christmas party where I played a whole bunch of Christmas songs on the piano while others merrily sang along! I also often accompanied Edwin on the violin and piano, seldom playing his songs the same way twice. And finally, the countless times we sang “Happy Birthday” to a friend to celebrate another year and the deep resilience in this neighbourhood.

I also look back fondly on the music nights that I co-hosted along with my buddy Caleb Ng (no, we’re not related). The first music night was in 2015 and I think there have been 7-8 of them in total—they’ve all been joyous times of celebration where we recognized the abundant talent in this neighbourhood. I remember listening to incredible performances from Johnny Jaworski, Jay Caron, Edwin Canfield and Ziggy Sigmund, Mallory Gliko, Dave Staniforth, Jason Wood, Guitar Mike from Oppenheimer Park, Chris Lemky, and the list goes on. The very first music night featured the incredible Stan Hudak (RIP) ripping it up on the keys, astonishing those who’d never had the fortune of hearing him play a medley of show tunes and jazz standards that he’d effortlessly toss off at Jacob’s Well. Stan was kind and gentle, and generous in sharing his musical talent, although he unfortunately passed away shortly after the first music night.

When Jacob’s Well got word that it was about to get evicted in early 2017 there was an understandable amount of stress on the staff to try to find another location in the DTES with affordable rental rates—not super easy to find in the gentrifying DTES! What was fortifying was the remarkable surge of energy and momentum that came from volunteers and friends alike. I remember Darrin Lloyd, whom I used to be terrified of, suggesting a walkathon around Stanley Park, and how proud he was to spearhead this event and to show off his dwelling space (Darrin used to sleep at Stanley Park but is in much more stable housing now). And we ended up organizing an electric music night and silent auction, with many, including Val, donating very generously to the Well. It was my oldest son’s birthday that day, and Devon gave him $2 as a birthday present! When I thanked him later, he said he gave him all the money that he had on him. The generosity of the neighbourhood continues to amaze and challenge me.

And of course, the friendships I’ve made! I could fill an entire book with the people who’ve made an impact on me. I think of my journey with Barry. He was often insightful and vulnerable but also had major anger issues and struggled with addiction. However, the strong and supportive relationships he developed at the Well made small cracks in his defenses, and over time he became gentler and kinder. I remember one time where he interrupted a Friday team prayer time by sharing openly about his struggles and frustrations with doing the same things over and over again. It was raw and vulnerable, and much more memorable than any other prayer meeting I’ve been to! From that point on, something changed—instead of being scared of Barry, I began to look forward to seeing him. We frequently had great conversations. While he unfortunately passed away from an overdose I am thankful for our friendship, how he encouraged me to play more aggressively on the violin, and for teaching me the importance of listening over problem-solving.

I also think of Tony, who introduced me to Vietnamese Big 2, as well as Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen and Van Dragon Seafood, which are places that Tony and I continue to go to and that I’ve introduced to my own family. I think of Harry, who passed away in 2015 but affected us deeply with his calmness and serenity. I think of Eric (aka “Crunk”), who played card games in a way that wasn’t super logical (and probably frustrated the more competitive among us), but was far more entertaining. I remember Jay and his many ridiculous memes (JUST RELAX!). I also gratefully remember Darrin, who stood up for me once when I was verbally threatened by another guest who was having a really bad day. I think of the courage and resilience shown by so many friends who had much more difficult upbringings than I and who continue to go through life with a lot of tenacity and joy. Jacob’s Well has played a major role in my spiritual formation-long may it run!

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