While walking down the street, one may not notice the nondescript entrance to 9242 Main Street, but for those who pass beneath the Pearl Life Renewal Society’s drop-in centre’s threshold, the beauty on the other side is exactly what’s needed.
“I wanted it to be beautiful in here so women could come here and feel valued … and know they’re loved and that there’s a way out if they choose,” said Joan Goosen, the society’s creator and executive director.
Opening its doors in November 2017, the society’s goal, Goosen says, is to provide resources, services and no-strings attached love to women who are sexually exploited, trafficked, or in prostitution.
“I’ve long had a heart and compassion for women who are hurting,” said Goosen, who’s a clinically-trained trauma counsellor. “And I know from my own work that many of the women on the streets have dealt with trauma,” which is why she says she began the ministry in 2013.
But it’s obvious Goosen’s not the only one who’s interested in helping Chilliwack’s exploited women, as the Society is 100 per cent run through the volunteer and donation efforts of community members, who not only managed to fundraise enough to open the drop-in centre a year ago, but to also increase its hours from three days a week to five within the last month.
“Our staff and volunteers really are a great part of this ministry,” Goosen added. “So many people have donated time and resources which (has been) really awesome to see.”
But with 92 visits during the 12 days in September they were open, and new women coming in weekly, Goosen says the Pearl Renewal Society has its work cut out, and is ready to begin raising funds for the Society’s second phase.
“We want to open a specialized recovery home for trafficked (women) and girls,” said Goosen, who emphasized that any type of forced prostitution is equal to human trafficking. To do that, however, Goosen says the Society will need to raise about $250,000 to see the operation get off the ground.
So with that in mind, on Saturday, Nov. 24, the Pearl Life Renewal Society will be hosting its third annual fundraiser and hopes to raise $100,000, which Goosen says will get them more than 50 per cent of the way to their ultimate goal.
“We’ll be celebrating a successful first year, our staff, the (women we help, and) volunteers,” said Goosen, who added that in addition to Trisha Baptie, a Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES) survivor, being in attendance to share her story, there will also be a dessert and silent auction.
Tickets to the event are $10 and can be purchased on the Society’s website, their Facebook page, or by calling the drop-in centre during open hours, which are Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m until 4 p.m.
If you’re interested in making a donation or purchasing a sponsorship package in regards to Pearl’s third annual fundraiser, please contact Joan Goosen at [email protected], or if you would like more information about the Pearl Life Renewal Society, please visit their website at PearlLifeRenewal.com, or call 604-402-4673 (HOPE).