While Family Day is a holiday typically celebrated with close relatives, John Douglas of Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS) sees his family circle extending far beyond the four walls of his home.
“I see all residents of Alberni as one big family and I believe we have to look after everybody in our community like we’re part of a family. A family pulls together and tries to help one another in challenging times, and I’d like to think of PASS as doing the same – we grow stronger together as a unit,” Douglas explains.
Port Alberni Shelter Society
PASS provides housing, food, clothing, outreach services and support for those experiencing homelessness in the Alberni community. Their facilities include a Sobering site, an Overdose Prevention Site, numerous Shelter Sites, a Food Distribution Enterprise and their social enterprise Shelter Farm.
With multiple housing alternatives to choose from, they can accommodate a variety of needs. Whether someone may need a single night’s stay, if they’re in search of their own place, or even if they’d like to share a community home with other families, they can with PASS.
“Another initiative we’ve been promoting at PASS is stimulating the dialogue around the subject of addictions and particularly the Opioid Crisis, which we refer to this as Opioid Dialogues. You can contribute to this dialogue by going to our website of pashleter.org,” Douglas notes.
More recently, the Shelter Society has focused efforts on Therapeutic Recovery Centres (TRC).
After researching what’s working in other countries, they’ve been able to study successful opioid recovery models, which in turn will inform decisions made here.
Bringing their own TRC to Canada, the society created their Shelter Farm – a vegetable farm and social enterprise that teaches crop management, skills in irrigation, weeding, integrated pest management and disease control. Taking it a step further, they also educate clients on business management, budgeting and marketing skills.
Their Gardener Training program includes a partnership between PASS and North Island College to educate young farmers, allowing them to be stewards of the land, preserving it for years to come. They’ve even seen some graduates start their own farms, underscoring the value of the program!
To support the Shelter Farm visit your local farmer’s markets and enjoy dining experiences at local restaurants – for a list of restaurants supporting the Shelter Farm in Port Alberni, visit PAShelter.org
And with the success of their venture, they plan to establish a new TRC exclusive to women (which would be the first of its kind in Canada), eventually opening their doors to all genders and families.
To contribute ideas and lend a helping hand, reach out to John Douglas at 250-735-7177 or send him an email.