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Foundation offers safe haven

New North Shore organization serves victims of abuse

Silent auction fundraiser in support of the Safe Haven Foundation of Greater Vancouver, Thursday, Oct. 20 at 5: 30 p.m., at The Eagles Club, 170 West Third St., North Vancouver. Tickets: $25. Info:

JOHN Page has a vision of all community members living peacefully, free of abuse and victimization, regardless of social status.

The West Vancouver pastor is the founder and president of the Safe Haven Foundation of Greater Vancouver, and along with a team of 10 volunteers, has dedicated himself to that ideal. Safe Haven is a non-profit and non-denominational North Shore-based organization launched three years ago. It serves individuals of all ages and backgrounds, both males and females.

"What we do is we work with people who are in abusive situations," says Page. He's quick to explain that while the first thing that jumps to mind when people hear the word "abuse" is domestic abuse inflicted on women and children by partners, a variety of other situations exist and are also dealt with by Safe Haven.

"One of the things we have been able to do on the North Shore, and we've really got quite a name for ourselves in doing this, is working with elders and abuse," says Page.

Abuse for Safe Haven, then, refers to "a person whose life is being manipulated by somebody else," he says. It's a catch-all word that goes beyond physical abuse, encapsulating mental as well as any situation where an individual is put at risk, including the threat of homelessness, under-employment or other forms of exploitation. Foundation volunteers work with individuals in need, linking them with existing services like social workers, public health programs and other non-profits. If no service exists to help them, the foundation will offer funds to set the individual on a path to a sustainable future. That might mean setting them up in a furnished, affordable and safe apartment with groceries. "That's what we're all about, just to give them a start," says Page.

On average, the foundation works with two people per week. The amount of time spent working with each person varies, dependent on the severity of the case.

For the foundation, Page draws on his 15 years of experience working in the non-profit sector in the United States with people struggling with addiction. As well, he grew up in an abusive family, and there was nowhere for his mother to go. When he moved to Canada in recent years, he realized he could merge these two aspects of his past to serve people in need in the Lower Mainland.

A relatively new organization, Safe Haven encourages community members to get involved, either by offering financial support or volunteering in a variety of capacities, from fundraising to serving on its board.


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