It was a warm moment on a cold, snowy day last week as the Salvation Army opened doors to the new Northern Centre of Hope in Fort St. John. “Today’s weather tells you why we need something like this,” Mayor Lori Ackerman told the crowd of about 50 gathered in the new shelter last Friday.
“The shelter can house up to 64 people with both shelter and transitional beds for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Fort St. John,” said Captain Deb VanderHeyden, Executive Director for The Northern Centre of Hope. “We can look out the windows today and be face to face with the reality that there are things in this world which we personally cannot control,” said Area Commander, Major Al Hoeft, during the dedication prayer.
Located at 9824 99th Avenue, the newly renovated two-storey building is managed and operated by The Salvation Army and provides clients with support services and accessible resources, such as addictions programming as well as a drop-in food line six days a week. The Salvation Army Northern Centre of Hope will assist in increasing access to safe and affordable housing for all residents in need and represents the first step in breaking the cycle of homelessness in a supportive environment.
“We’re pleased to expand our range of support services offered in the North Peace region for those at risk,” said Lt. Colonel Larry R. Martin, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army British Columbia Division. “Thank you to all who made The Salvation Army Northern Centre of Hope a reality as we continue to provide help to those in need. Together, we are not only helping the individual, but improving the quality of life for all the residents of Fort St. John.”
A current client, David, shared that The Salvation Army helped him gain control of his alcoholism, “I plan on staying in this two-year program and continuing on in this healthy lifestyle to get back into society sober. Without The Salvation Army staff and my family, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you people today,” he said.
Story attributed to Alaska Highway News, Dave Dyck.