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Abbotsford’s LIFE Recovery Association celebrates 25th anniversary with gala

Formal dinner, music, testimonies, live auction and donations part of sold-out Feb. 24th event
LIFE Recovery is an association for women seeking freedom from addiction (LIFE Recovery)

To date, LIFE Recovery has provided women from Abbotsford and across Canada 128,643 clean and sober days from addiction.

Since 1999, an average of 60 women per year attend the faith-based recovery program located in Abbotsford’s Clearbrook area.

This year’s annual gala, held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre on Feb. 24, helps support the association that relies on its generous donors.

“Donors are critical,” says executive director Coletta Holmes. “Twelve per cent of annual revenue comes from the government. The rest is all from donors, fundraisers and our thrift stores.”

Some of the live auction items will include away stays, a barbecue, and a catered dinner by the women of the association. The famous wheel of Gouda cheese will also be a prized possession. Since many of the founding members are Dutch, it is a symbolic item that has fetched up to $7,800 in the past.

Twenty-five years ago, Roger Hoekstra realized more needed to be done to provide help to those struggling with addiction. Before LIFE Recovery became an association it was actually a detox service for men. It was quickly realized that there were a lot more programs for men than women, so it changed its client base.

Hoekstra went back to school to become an addictions counsellor, developed a committee and got the church involved to support. Trinity Christian Reformed Church is still involved today.

The program utilizes ‘The Twelve Steps,’ developed by Alcoholics Anonymous combined with an abstinence-based and community-care model. Each step takes approximately a week, which is around 90 days.

“It’s a self examination,” says Holmes. “Ninety days of self examination and getting to the root of their addiction.”

Now the association has grown to four houses and offers two stages. The first stage looks to combat the addiction, and about 10 individuals move to the second stage with a house monitor to maintain accountability. They also help reintegrate clients back into society when their stay is complete.

Although the structure of the program has not changed in the last 25 years, the issues the association sees has.

“There is a big difference in who our clients were 25 years ago to who they are now,” says Holmes. “There were more people coming in for alcohol 25 years ago than you see now. You also didn’t see the same types of drugs, and drugs now affect the brain very differently. Today it takes a lot longer to recover from that type of drug use.”

Holmes also explained that there are more young people presenting with alcoholism, especially post-pandemic. As well, mental health is at a more critical level.

The counsellors at LIFE Recovery are addictions counsellors, so the association refers clients who need extra care to Fraser Health.

With the added stress of the drug crisis in Canada, LIFE Recovery is looking to rebuild their stage one facility to provide more help and resources, such as an approved detox centre.

The donors are especially crucial in a rebuild period.

The association is looking forward to celebrating ‘25 years of living in freedom everyday,’ on Feb. 24.

RELATED: Online campaign raises $108K for LIFE Recovery in Abbotsford

About the Author: Ryleigh Mulvihill

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