A wall hanging in the Recovery House

As part of their Get Fit / Keep Fit covenant of 2005, St. John the Divine in Squamish wanted the uses of its buildings to match its stated mission far more closely. Part of that mission is to reach out into the community to share God’s love.

An exciting opportunity came up when long-term residents who had been renting the parish rectory moved out. This dove-tailed with informal conversations that had been going on between the parish and Sea to Sky Community Services (SSCS) around the creation of a recovery house for people with alcohol and drug addictions.

Addiction is a serious a problem in the Sea to Sky Corridor. It affects many and families, and at the time there were no facilities in Squamish to serve people.

Sea to Sky Community Services is a nonprofit, registered charitable society formed in 1978. It delivers programs in the corridor, some of which address the social impacts associated with substance abuse.

The aim was be to help people successful return to their home communities, healthy and addiction free. At a Vestry meeting in June 2006, the parish overwhelmingly decided to make the Rectory available to SSCS.

What started out as an informal dialog between friends almost two years ago has evolved into an "oasis in the storm" for those individuals recovering from addiction.

However, it would be another year before the first clients would move in. St. John's had a lot of work to be in terms of public education, fund raising and renovations. There is a fear factor in the public mind around addiction issues – especially when it comes to the location of a recovery house.

We worked closely with SSCS to educate people in the our church and in our local community. That work has paid off through continuing support and encouragement.


The former rectory at St. John’s in Squamish which now serves the community as a Recovery House

A few members of the parish initially expressed some concerns about the house being so close, but these seem to have evaporated and the church has become a strong support system for the clients in the house. People in the recovery house use the church hall for art, yoga, music, and dance therapy. Many even join us for Sunday worship.

After convincing the parish and the public that a recovery house a good idea, we had to convert the rectory into a space that would meet the needs of a support house. We needed money for renovations, which meant fund raising.

The first phase of the renovation was completed in 2007. It focused on the interior of the house: we had to improve energy efficiency, update the décor, and upgrade the space for the six clients and three staff who would live and work there.

The house still needs work on the exterior--this is phase 2. A new roof has just been put on. Now fencing, parking and windows are the priority. Our fund raising efforts continue.

Thanks go to Vancouver Coastal Health, the Diocese of New Westminster and Squamish Savings Credit Union for their financial support of phase 1. Along with financial support, there have been countless volunteer hours provided by the members of St. John's Church and the SCSS staff.

When the Sea to Sky Recovery House opened its doors in St. John’s rectory in June a year ago we celebrated with staff and residents at a special Sunday service, followed by a house blessing. Over the past year approximately 30 clients have lived in the house and benefited from its support. Gods’ love is indeed being shared with the whole community of Squamish as some of its wounded residents find new life in a Church rectory.

Our mission statement at St. John's is: "We are a lively and faithful Christian community striving to reach out and share God's love." We see the establishment of the recovery house as a part of this mission. It is something that everyone in Squamish and the diocese--as well as at St. John's--can celebrate.