In early 1999 I sensed a need for providing a recovery house in South Vancouver. I was pastor of Sherbrooke Mennonite Church (SMC), and I was building relationships with two men who were coming to SMC, struggling with addictions, and living in a place that gave no encouragement towards recovery. The concept of the Place of Refuge was first presented to the SMC church on June 9th, 1999. There were many questions, but encouragement was given to the SMC mission committee to continue to explore this idea.
On November 22nd, 2001, a proposal was approved by SMC, which included: forming a society, a commitment from SMC members to get involved, raising funds, developing a partnership with at least another three churches, and partnering with Hope for Freedom Society (HFFS) to provide the program. Much work was done in building these partnerships, and in fundraising with what became five partner churches.
The house was purchased by one of the POR board members in the Spring of 2007. After extensive renovations, approval processes, many volunteer work hours and donations in kind, the house officially opened on August 1st, 2009.
Then in March of 2012, when Jeff Borden became the house manager, the value of being in POR was significantly increased. On October 1st, 2013, the POR Society took over the program from HFFS, and made Jeff the Executive Director. POR is now an independent transition house, and we have developed relationships with many recovery agencies as sources of future residents.
In April 2019, Jeff began graduate studies towards a Masters in Leadership degree at Royal Roads University in Victoria. He completed his studies in April 2021, and his Masters in Leadership was conferred in July 2021. We are very proud of Jeff’s hard work at accomplishing this degree. His learnings from these studies are influential in shaping the future of POR. We are also very proud of the work that Jeff is doing and the relationships that he has established across the network of people doing recovery work.
We currently have three partner churches and several churches with whom we are in conversation about joining as partners. Jeffrey C. Borden, MA, ICADC, ICCS, is the POR Executive Director. He has been with us for ten years, and he has led POR to become one of the highest rated houses for transitional living in all of British Columbia. POR accepts people of all backgrounds and persuasions and treats each individual equally and respectfully. The board of directors has given the blessing to POR to explore the establishment of a second house for men. A lot of work needs to be done, and we are excited to move forward on it.