A Place of Dignity
When I reach Don Evans he’s in a hotel room in Portugal. He’s just woken up from a nap after spending the day touring therapeutic communities for people addicted to drugs and meeting with politicians. Don is the executive director of Our Place in Victoria, BC, and a CCS student. Our Place is a church-supported outreach ministry located within walking distance of the Legislature.
BC is in the midst of a devastating crisis of drug overdoses and BC’s capital city has not been exempt. This past August, there were 42 overdoses on the Our Place property alone. Don is in Europe learning how countries like Portugal have cut their addiction rate in half and exploring therapeutic communities in Italy where they treat and support the whole person, not just the chemical addiction.
A shipping container in the courtyard is one of the newest ministries at Our Place Society. Fitted out with desks and cubicles it serves as an overdose prevention tool. Staff of the new Overdose Prevention POD include paramedics. POD = place of dignity. This both catches my interest and speaks to how Don’s faith has shaped his work.
“Studying at CCS has informed how I do this work as I look at it with a lens of church,” Don reflected. “I have different motivation, different concepts. Now I look at it more through service. It’s not a business. It’s not about money. It’s about people, about love, peace, compassion and healing. It has helped me to understand that it’s not about me, not abut the organization, but about the individual that’s hurting.
“A good example is that donations dropped when we opened up the Overdose Prevention POD,” he continued. “Some people didn’t like it. However it’s not about the organization but about being of service to people who are hurting and we just have to trust in God. People were dying in our building. We have to do what is right for the people we are serving.”
Don noted that the world is changing rapidly. During the Great Depression churches responded to the needs of people hurt by that. Today’s world is very different and it’s a challenge to keep up with the changing needs of the people who come to Our Place. They hope to open their own therapeutic community in the spring to really help people who have many issues to contend with: homelessness, addiction, mental health breakdown and lack of current job skills.
“When I look at “What would Jesus do?” Don said, “He would be reaching out to these people.”
~ Kimiko Karpoff
From the CCS publication, Tapestry, Fall 2017