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Oct29ThuOcean Crest Community Church in Campbell River, B.C., is a lighthouse for the community. October 29, 2015 by Giselle Randall and Betty Tiede
Campbell River, B.C., stretches along the east coast of Vancouver Island, with the ocean on one side, forest on the other and mountain views in every direction. It's a landscape that draws people who love the outdoors and is known as a retirement destination. But the city has suffered economically since the closure of the mill several years ago and many people struggle to find work. Affordable housing is also in short supply.
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The Salvation Army's Ocean Crest Ministries reaches out to the community in several ways. At the Lighthouse Centre, more than 20,000 meals are served each year. A drop-in program offers laundry and shower facilities along with a clothing bank. Emergency shelter is available during the coldest months of the year.
The Dinner Bell program, a partnership between Ocean Crest Community Church and Island Health, provides vocational training in the food services industry, producing nutritious, affordable meals for people with mental illness or addictions.
“I love what I do,” says Connie Preston, a professional cook who leads the program. “The students are enthusiastic, and it's immensely satisfying to see their skills—and their self-esteem—improve. I see them gain the confidence and inspiration to make other positive changes in their lives.”
Campbell River is located near two First Nations communities. “God has blessed us with growth among First Nations people over the past year, with the number from that community increasing from an average of one or two, to 10-12, on Sunday morning,” says Captain Gordon Taylor, corps officer. “We also help support Esperanza, a ministry to the First Nations community on the west side of Vancouver Island, sending a youth team to do a work weekend each year to help prepare the camp for the summer.”