A perfect day for a groundbreaking. The expansion of the House of Hope facility in Campbell Valley got underway with the help of Wagner Hills director Helmut Boehm (left) Mayor Rick Green

‘Hope’ springs eternal

A groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday marked the start of construction on a South Langley residential facility for women dealing with addiction.

The Campbell Valley House of Hope Centre will be located on provincially-owned property at 460-216 Street. Wagner Hills Farm Society, which operates a similar program for men on its Aldergrove property, has operated a facility for women there for the past three years, using facilities formerly operated as the Chrisholme centre.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman, who is Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA, has a longstanding connection with the property. His wife Michelle at one time worked at Chrisholme, a facility for developmentally-challenged adults and troubled teens. He sat on its board before he was an MLA.

The Chrisholme property was bought by the NDP government and sat vacant for years. Coleman said he told Fraser Health Authority to come up for a plan with the property, or he would lease it out. When no plan was forthcoming by the date he had set, he arranged to lease it for a 20-year period to Wagner Hills Farm.

While a great deal of work was needed to bring the buildings up to occupancy standards,  it has now been in operation for several years. It is currently home to 14 women recovering from addictions.

As at Wagner Hills Farm, the women do farm work and engage in a series of classes and sessions to help the deal with addictions from a Christian perspective.

Plans also call for nine greenhouses to be built on the property. The province will pay $525,000 towards construction of the greenhouses. Similar greenhouses at Wagner Hills Farm have become a major portion of the farm work.

“Our community has always had a pretty big heart. As we transitioned into the new use of this property, people showed patience and understanding,” Coleman said. “This is the best investment we could make to change people’s lives. It’s helping people with mental health issues and drug addiction; it’s reuniting families and changing lives.”

Aboriginal Relations Minister and Langley MLA Mary Polak also took part in the groundbreaking with Coleman, Township Mayor Rick Green, Wagner Hills founder Wes Wagner and executive director Helmut Boehm. She said the accomplishments at the House of Hope “are like a ripple in a pond — you don’t know where the end of it might go.

“You have helped the community to more broadly accept the facilities like this,” she said.

Boehm said that the new residential facility will be built with a great deal of donated materials and labour, which is the “way we have always done things at Wagner Hills Farm.”

Private donors are contributing $220,000 towards the new building, which will house another eight residents and also provide a dining area and areas for support services.

The father of one resident has come down from Quesnel to volunteer to work on the facility, and parked his trailer on the property to be on hand for the work.

Green said “Wagner Hills Farm has done an excellent job of helping people at risk” by offering counselling, life skills, training and support.

Several of the residents spoke about how being at the House of Hope is giving them a future.

“Coming into the light is like being rescued from the ocean after treading water for days,” one woman said.

Jasmine, a 37-year-old resident, said that “God is in a constant relationship with us, and we are in constant relationships with others.

“Life here is not a bed of roses all the time. We don’t always work well together but we do work it out together,” she said.