Chilliwack organization running on faith and donations

Pearl Life Renewal Resource Centre ready to help Chilliwack’s sexually exploited women

They wanted to create a space where victimized women could find some help. They wanted a place to offer up a cup of tea, along with hope, warmth and love.

And that’s exactly what the woman of Pearl Life Renewal have done, with the opening of the Pearl Resource Centre on Main Street. With its soft, chandelier lighting, cozy furnishings and soothing atmosphere, the downtown Chilliwack centre is ready to welcome women and lift them up. Pearl Life Renewal’s founder, Joan Goosen, started the centre in the hopes of helping sex workers restart their lives.

It’s been almost a year since Goosen shared her vision of a first-step, drop-in ministry. She and Tamara Brown, a former sex worker, worked together tirelessly to raise funds and education about prostitution and sex trafficking, and the effect it has on women. Running on faith and donations, they opened the doors earlier this week on Main Street. The building was perfect for their needs, and they’ve even been able to re-use some of the furnishings and equipment left behind by the previous tenant, a bakery.

READ: A hand – and hope – offered to Chilliwack’s sexually exploited girls

“All kinds of miracles have happened in this place,” Goosen says during a tour of the space on Wednesday. There’s a front reception area, a quiet meeting room for one-on-one counselling, a bright dining room which doubles as a classroom, and a full galley kitchen. That leads to a larger living room and meeting area, with a second reception area. There are also shower facilities, a washer and dryer, and a clothing closet, to help the women transition from life on the street.

“This has turned out to be a really good space for us,” Goosen says. “It took a while but it’s just what we needed.”

They’ve also recently received their registered charity status, so they can now provide tax receipts as well as apply for grants.

During the tour, the volunteer staff were busy taking part in their ongoing training. They are ready to greet women who are working as sex trade workers, whether they feel ready to change their lives immediately or not.

“We know it’s a process,” Goosen says. And they are counting on word spreading among the community that the centre is now open, and accessible. Right now, they are open three days a week, Monday through Wednesday. With more funding, they’ll be able to expand their services to five or even seven days a week.

Accessing Pearl’s services takes some commitment from the women, Goosen explains. They will have to go through an intake process to identify goals, and to commit to weekly check ins to help measure progress. After that, classes are offered on a drop-in, first-come first-served basis. And those classes can be life changing.

They are providing a menu of services to help women reach goals in their lives, whether it’s finding shelter, learning healthy boundaries in relationships, learning how to cook, or gaining coping skills.

For example, they are leading the four-hour RentReady introduction course, and the six week RentSmart certificate course. The course teaches people how to be good tenants, and how they can gain an edge when meeting potential landlords. They learn about tenants’ rights and responsibilities, budgeting, maintenance and more.

They can also take courses in coping, connections, legal help, self care, creativity, cooking and faith.

Goosen and Brown know they are providing a much-needed service, and that when women are ready to come to them, they will. Goosen is part of a ministry that meets beside Chilliwack’s needle exchange every other Friday afternoon; she knows the local need is dire.

“Girls are recruited from everywhere,” Goosen says, including parties and bars. “They want to be loved. They tell them they’re beautiful and they want to hear that.”

Goosen is a clinical counsellor, and hopes that the success of the clinic will lead to another necessary support system — second step housing. They hope to open the Life Renewal Women’s Academy in 2018, offering shelter and more structured programming. And to get to those goals, they are holding their second annual Fundraising and Dessert evening.

It’s on Nov. 25, at Main Street Church, and will include a presentation by Brian McConaghy, a former forensic scientist with the RCMP who now works to improve the lives of women and children around the world. Part of his work includes preparing victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking to re-enter society as healthy adults.

Tickets for the evening are $10, available by calling 1-888-995-9327. For more information, visit them at www.pearlliferenewal.com.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Joan Goosen is thrilled with how the Pearl Life Renewal Resource Centre has come to being, in a perfect location for their needs downtown Chilliwack. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

Intergenerational Garden in Maple Ridge set to close if funding not found

The teaching garden brought together seniors and children

Winter Family Fun Fair a joy for all

Maple Ridge Public library hosted literacy event featured 27 exhibitors

Untrending: Who wants to be perceived as ruthless, pushy, or striving?

A closer look at how to set and achieve goals.

Famous skateboard residence goes up for sale in Maple Ridge

Kyle Dion’s house on Stoney Avenue has a backyard feature few others can boast

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read