Violet and Keith Hopkins came straight to Campbell River from the Salvation Army training college in Winnipeg.
Because of the size of the unit in Campbell River, Keith figures the organization wouldn’t normally appoint new officers to the area, but so far he feels like he is in the right place.
“Because of our age, our life experience, our experience in business and so on, this was a good fit,” Keith said.
The Hopkins and their 10-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son moved to Campbell River at the beginning of July. The captains worked for three weeks and then took three weeks of holidays in order to get their family settled. Now they are back in the office and working hard.
The Salvation Army based in Campbell River is in charge of many ministries. They care for their community’s spiritual needs at the Ocean Grove Community Church and for their physical needs through the Evergreen Shelter, the Lighthouse Centre, the Family Thrift Store and New Beginnings Thrift Store. The Campbell River captains are also in charge of the Port Hardy locations.
Keith said that running the Salvation Army community outreach programs is like running a business, but with a lot less money. They wouldn’t be able to do it without their community partners and volunteer hours.
The building that the Evergreen Shelter is based in is owned by BC Housing and the Salvation Army runs the programs and pays the wages. There are 22 beds at the shelter and clients can stay for up to one year.
“These are individuals that need a home,” Keith said.
Adjacent to that program six small apartments are used as transition houses for people who have finished their 12 step recovery program. The Salvation Army works with an agency to get their clients more permanent homes. The Lighthouse Centre serves 100 to 120 meals a day, not only to the homeless but also to the working poor. There is also a small food bank and the opportunity for clients to get a shower.
“It is an important ministry in the downtown core for sure,” Keith said.
In Port Hardy, the Salvation Army is starting up a sobering and assessment program that will be open 365 days a year. Clients will be able to shower, have a meal and sleep off their intoxication. The next morning they will have the opportunity to talk with a caseworker.
“Our goal is not to grow a ministry on our back, it is to grow a team within the community so that when the next officers come they can keep cultivating that,” Keith said.
Before moving to Winnipeg to go to training college, the Hopkins lived in Prince Rupert. Keith worked with BC Ferries and Violet had a photography business. Both grew up in Newfoundland in the Salvation Army community, and so when their lives in Prince Rupert were no longer fulfilling, they applied to be Salvation Army captains.
“I think over the course of 25 years you begin to have feelings that you are called to do something bigger than yourself,” Keith said.
So far the family is loving Campbell River and the opportunities it presents. Unlike in a bigger centre, Keith feels they will have the opportunity to work with a wider selection of people, organizations and businesses.
“If you had asked me to choose a better setting for ourselves, I don’t think I could,” he said.