REFUGE. That’s what “miklat” means in Hebrew, and it’s a foundational concept of Miklat Recovery Society, a non-profit registered charity in Powell River that provides “a place of refuge from the storms of addiction.”
It was 2017 when Frank Piper first approached Sean Slusarchuk at a 12-Step Recovery Meeting in Powell River about the idea of opening a treatment centre that would offer addiction recovery services to people who were lacking funding.
“I said to Frank, ‘It sounds like the place I was at many years ago,’” Sean remembers. “Because when I hit the end of my road, I had no money, and nobody was taking me because I had no money. But Hope for Freedom Society did, and they gave me my life back.”
After that fateful meeting Sean returned to Vancouver, where he was working at the time, but a seed had been planted. Frank and Sean continued to talk, and then Frank held an informational meeting, which Sean says, with a chuckle, he attended because he knew there would be doughnuts.
“I really liked Frank's vision. And my goal by the time I left that meeting was to try and find the society a house.” That was how he became the co-founder of (and a long-time volunteer for) Miklat Recovery House Society.
It was a process, with lots of obstacles to overcome. When Frank passed away from a heart attack, the board that had been established decided to pursue Frank’s vision. Eventually there was an opportunity to purchase a house on McGuffie Avenue, and that was the beginning of a passion project for a lot of people.
Many of the directors and staff at Miklat have worked in the field of addictions counselling and treatment or have themselves overcome addiction. Some of the staff started as volunteers, Sean adds, wanting to pay forward a kindness they had been shown in their past.
“Life is a challenge,” he says. “I really believe that if the guy who took me in [almost 25 years ago] hadn’t done that, I don't know if I would be here today. I needed that foundation, that commitment of three months to just get the fog out of my head. I did heavy drugs and alcohol, so I needed those tools of recovery. I needed to learn how to live life on life's terms.”
And that’s what Miklat Recovery Society is all about. Their mission “is to provide a safe residential environment for clients to grow and eventually become active members of society. We do this by growing together and supporting our clients through their journey in and out of residential treatment.”
The organization offers half its beds to paying clients while dedicating the remaining half to people who lack funding, and Miklat currently has capacity to house 12 men. However, in collaboration with qathet Regional District and Powell River Regional Hospital District, they have secured a long-term lease on the former firehall building, which will allow them to double their capacity.
“This expansion will bring our offerings to 24 beds in total, creating much-needed relief to our ever-growing wait list, meanwhile continuing to build a comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care within the qathet region.”
There is still much fundraising to be done for the renovations that are necessary, but it’s getting easier to approach donors and funders, Sean says.
“It’s easier to approach people than it was five years ago because people can see the results of what we have done, how we have affected people’s lives.”
Sean expresses appreciation for the assistance First Credit Union has provided to Miklat Recovery Society at several junctures along the journey, the most recent being a $5000 donation toward the renovations.
“The fact that we have the support of First Credit Union is amazing because they're about the community, and this is something that affects so many people.”
The plan for the future of the society is to continue to expand to help more and more people. “Once we get this building going we’ll be working towards a women’s home,” Sean says, “because it’s great that we’re helping men become fathers and brothers and husbands and sons again, but we also need to help the women to be daughters and mothers and wives and sisters again.”
He emphasizes the far-reaching impact that recovery, like addiction, has on families and communities. “When one person comes out of treatment successfully it’s not just one person who’s affected. It’s that person’s wife, that person’s children, that person’s parents, and on and on.”
Anyone wanting to learn more about Miklat Recovery Society, or to make a donation, can visit https://powellrivermiklat.com/