The “plight of the homeless” was the challenge facing the founding members of the Anawim Companions Society: a small group of Volunteers at St. Andrew’s soup kitchen in the early 1980’s. Listening to the homeless poor on the street describe their powerlessness and inability to break out of their cycle of poverty, they saw the need for a new model of support.
How to service today’s Anawim who cycle through charity-providing services, yet are unable to break out of their burden of hopelessness and poverty? A model of caring that included volunteers and the poor and homeless as companions was adopted.
The Anawim Companions Society was registered as a non-profit charitable organization in 1987. Through the support and generosity of churches, various service clubs, the local business community, and many individuals from Greater Victoria, a tiny house was purchased at 973 Caledonia Ave. in 1991.
Within two years Anawim House was bursting at the seams. As basic needs were met at the house, within an alcohol and drug-free environment, the greater challenge of assisting the poor to address the wounds that had put them out on the street – abuse, betrayal, addictions and emotional and mental illness – needed to be addressed. If the Anawim were to again function in mainstream society, they would need to heal within a loving family, learn life skills in preparation for employment, upgrade their education, or return to school to learn a new trade.
With community support the house was greatly expanded to become a multi-functional space in June, 1994. The expansion allowed additional services to meet the underlying causes of poverty among the Anawim in Greater Victoria, and added much needed bedrooms for the residential program.
Anawim House has a family size kitchen, dining area, a large living room and entertainment centre, shower and laundry facilities, a library/board room, offices, an arts and crafts studio, computer work stations, a well equipped workshop, cold storage and ample space for food and clothing supplies. Anawim House also offers private bedrooms for seven residents.