Helen Burnham and Virginia Giles know too well the unique challenges women face when battling drug and alcohol addiction. As recovering alcoholics, they decided to share their stories and hard-earned knowledge by helping as many addicted women as they could. In 1990 they opened Avalon Women’s Centre in Vancouver, followed in 1997 by the North Shore Centre and then the third centre in White rock in 2012.
These drop-in centres help hundreds of women each month on the road of recovery. In addition to self-help meetings and workshops, Helen and Virginia have provided what is probably the most important service of all: a compassionate, caring, safe environment in which women can heal themselves and one another.
Helen and Virginia’s pioneering work in providing street-level care for women who need it most, earned the pair the Order of British Columbia.