Salvation Army returning to Sooke

Sooke Life Ministries to open in the Hope Centre at 6750 West Coast Rd.

The Salvation Army is back in Sooke with a new home at the Hope Centre, and a fresh take on how to help the local community.

Its return isn’t as a thrift store. Instead, the church will introduce several programs designed to help struggling Sooke residents get their lives back on track, offering life, job and budgeting skills as well as computer training.

The program office is located on the third floor of the Hope Centre, and staffed by an employmentcounsellor on Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Right now we’ve just been getting to know the residents there [at the Hope Centre] and eventually our plan is to bring in life skills and training to people wherever they’re at and help them through their journey,” said Sipili Molia, community relations coordinator at the Salvation Army Stan Hagen Centre for Families in Victoria.

A big part of Sally Ann’s return to Sooke is mostly to try to fill the hole left when it closed its thrift store last year – a matter that had to do with a licensing issue, said Molia.

“We figured we should try to make the effort and come back,” he said.” There’s a thrift store there already, and from our point of view, this is something we could do to help out the most.”

There’s also the reality many Sooke residents need to travel out of town to receive aid services. Around 18 per cent of Sally Ann’s client base travels from Sooke to Victoria to regularly receive its services.

Now, Molia hopes they can bring those services closer to home.

“Our goal is to open full time with programming. Right now we can only afford to be there with those two afternoons,” he said. “If we show that it’s successful and there’s a desire, then we can ask for more funding.”

The new Salvation Army program will also be working with the Sooke Food Bank to provide food hampers to those in need.