The Mustard Seed Kamloops has re-opened a live-in support program, the 17-bed Men’s Sober Living Centre at the Outreach Centre at 181 West Victoria St.
Unlike the former Men’s Recovery Centre, the re-opened facility is a dry program for men who have been sober for at least one week.
The centre will provide up to one year of support for men and includes employment coaching and a wellness co-ordinator to help with the transition from addiction to fully independent living.
Programming will include Street School to help residents attain their Grade 12 diploma, mandatory volunteering, Interior Health Authority’s Smart Recovery program and the Seed Academy training program. Seed Academy is a four-week program designed to provide training and education including first-aid, non-violent crisis intervention and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System , with the goal of helping men build their resumes and increase their employability.
“Residents will be required to volunteer nine to 12 hours per week for the first few months through various social enterprise programs,” said Mario Borba, managing director of The Mustard Seed. “After volunteering for a few months, there will be opportunities for them to be employed and all proceeds from the social enterprise will either pay the salaries or to be reinvested in the program.”
While the details are still being finalized, possible social enterprise ventures include a thrift store, janitorial work, catering and a coffee shop.
When Borba was hired in October replacing former manager Diane Down, who departed under murky circumstances, he explained that if other recovery programs are “wet,” the Mustard Seed was previously “humid” and the new program will be “dry” supportive living.
Effectively, residents will be required to be sober.
“I do think that there are two different groups and, unfortunately, one of those groups are not having the services that they deserve,” Borba said.
“I do believe in harm reduction; however, I do believe some people as well, people in incarceration, for example, that they do want to remain sober. Being in a place that is wet is very tempting for them and can give them lots of triggers to relapse. I want to support that individual who wants to remain sober. I know there is not a lot of funds available for that kind of program, but I think it’s fair for the individual who’s looking for a place where they can go.”
Historically rooted in faith, the Christian aspect of the organization as New Life Mission has been seen in various degrees over the years, depending on who has been in charge. Asked where religion fits under his management, Borba said the Mustard Seed is faith-based, with its main core value being Christ-centred.
“We do everything because we do believe in the love of Christ. We believe that we are modelling and reflecting the love of Christ through our actions,” Borba said.
Men can self refer directly to The Mustard Seed or be referred by any social agency in Kamloops. Participants will then go through an intake process at The Mustard Seed to determine if the program is the right fit for their needs and goals. The cost of the program is covered by the provincial government or residents can opt to pay for themselves.
“The program will be available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Borba said. “We know there are a lot of people who are anxious to see this happen.”
He said the goal of the program is to keep people occupied and engaged and requires a personal commitment. If a resident experiences relapse, there will be a meeting with the wellness co-ordinator to reset and re-establish goals and look at potential triggers and how those triggers can be avoided.
“If there’s a relapse, which happens in an addiction centre, rather than kick them out, we’ll work with them over the week and try to get them into a treatment centre as they might need more support than what we will offer,” Borba said. “The second time it happens, they will be discharged, but only after The Mustard Seed works with them for a week to find them a more appropriate place. If, in that week, they relapse again, then they will be discharged.”
Jeff Arlitt, a wellness co-ordinator at the Men’s Sober Living Centre, will work alongside an employment coach to provide support to the men as they seek to reach their individual goals. Over the course of the year, the hope is to help residents find employment and their own place to live.
“We’ll be working with residents to make sure they’re following through with their goals and plans,” Arlitt said. “The goal is to make sure they have everything they need to be successful when they leave.”