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Last Door Recovery Society offers a model of social inclusion

Last Door Recovery Society

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Vancity has kept pace with us as we’ve grown. When we’ve tried new ideas we know we’ve got the financial support we need. David Pavlus, Founder, Last Door Recovery Society

David Pavlus has been helping men with addictions turn their lives around for more than 30 years. When the safe house he was volunteering at was closing its doors in 1985, David decided to buy it.

“When we approached Vancity for our first mortgage way back then, nobody else would touch us because as soon as you mention the words drugs and alcohol, people think of addiction, they don’t think of recovery, but we had not-for-profit status and tons of support from the local community,” David says.

The Last Door Recovery Society in New Westminster has grown and expanded its programs significantly since those early days. It is now one of North America’s premier addiction treatment rehab centres. The society provides long-term, residential, in-patient addiction treatment for males 14 to 18 years of age and adult addiction treatment for men aged 19 and over.

“When most people think about addiction in Vancouver they think of the Downtown Eastside,” adds David. “We do help some guys from there but we also help a lot of working guys, family guys, men who are on that downward slide. Our job is to give them dignity and purpose, to get them back to living well as part of a community.”

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That unique approach has residents helping out in New Westminster with shoveling snow, raking leaves, fixing up a senior’s home and performing many other acts of service.

“What we’re doing looks pretty big from the outside but to me it’s been about slow and prudent growth over the years,” says David. “We’ve been especially careful with our neighbourhood because we have a pretty big footprint here. We’ve made sure that our neighbours and our community like us and are aware that it’s about recovery and treatment, not addictions.”

Last Door fundraises to subsidize its 20 community beds, making sure that everybody gets the same high standards of care whether they’re paying for it out of their own pockets or not.

“Last Door provides more than 100 places for men to live – anywhere from three months to a year,” says Jennifer McGinn, Vancity account manager in Community Business. “The alternative for many of these men would be either couch-surfing or on the streets. It’s about providing a safe and supportive environment for them to do this important work. Their success rates are so much higher than many other organizations that offer similar programs.”

The society has a close partnership with Vancity, which provided financial literacy training in 2015 to a group of male youth, some of whom had never had a bank account before. In 2014 Last Door purchased a 40-acre property in Mission with a mortgage from Vancity. It’s being used as a retreat centre for men who need to find solace and recovery through contact with the land by growing sustainable food. In 2016, Vancity also provided Last Door with a grant for this project.

“Vancity has kept pace with us as we’ve grown,” he says. “When we’ve tried new ideas we know we’ve got the financial support we need.


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