The Samaritan Principle
Island Crisis Care Society started when a few concerned Christians realized that many of the people they met who were struggling with addiction desperately needed a safe place to stay and a few good meals before they could begin to consider making changes in their life. They knew the story of the Good Samaritan, told by Jesus, about what it means to be a true neighbour. They wanted to follow the Samaritan Principle and help people whom the rest of society judged, overlooked, and avoided.
They leased an old house on Nicol Street in Nanaimo and named it Samaritan House. The once elegant Victorian mansion, built in the early 1900s, had seen better days. Just before they leased it, it had been a rooming house and had a small creek running through the basement. They rolled up their sleeves and made the place warm and dry and began to welcome people in off the street. And as with many acts of compassion, others saw what these men were doing and joined them. The Nanaimo Care Unit for Substance Abuse society was formed in 1989 to carry forward the work. The name was changed over the years, and has officially been Island Crisis Care Society since 2004.
The first members, volunteers, and workers in the society knew, like the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, that they were rescuing people from actual assailants and thieves. They saw clearly that these “addicts” had been taken advantage of, beaten up, and robbed. They soon discovered that, like the man in the parable told by Jesus, these men and women had serious wounds, most of them emotional, and most of them deep, that were causing them to use alcohol and other drugs to cope with the pain.
This motivated them to open the Halliburton St. Care Unit (Later to become the Clearview Detox), Northfield House, and eventually Crescent House, Hirst House, Safe Harbour, The Living Room, The Bridge, Sophia House, and the Parksville Extreme Weather Shelter. Some of these programs closed due to funding and other factors (Northfield House, Sophia House) or were passed on to other organizations (Clearview), and some programs, like Samaritan House, changed and grew to meet the needs of our community.