Plaque Unveiled to Commemorate Occasion: Left to Right Rev. Andrew Vähi Co-Founder and President of the Village of Hope, Lt. Col. Tony Webber Chief of Staff Base Gagetown, Bishop Märt Vähi Co-Founder, Premier David Alward, MLA Jack Carr also MC of the event, Bishop George Lemmon of the Anglican Church.
Wide Representation from Across the Province: An estimated crowd of 350 from various churches, denominations, companies, support groups, businesses, military, government, supporters and volunteers attended the opening ceremony that was held mainly outdoors due to the large numbers attending.
“Isn’t God Good!”: The opening statement by New Brunswick Premier, David Alward, in response to what he had heard and seen at the Village of Hope, brought a resounding applause from those attending the grand opening ceremonies.
Premier Commits to Village of Hope: “We as a Province want to partner with the Village of Hope”: stated the Premier in his address. Premier Alward also announced a gift of $125,000 to help bring three phase power into the area and help buy additional equipment toward the industry at the Village of Hope.
Representation by the Armed Forces: Lt. Col. Tony Weber 3ASC Chief of Staff from Base Gagetown stated: ”I see many similarities to what you do here and the armed forces. We take men and make better men of them. You take men who’s lives are devastated and make men out of them” He further elaborated: ”The kind of men I have seen here today”, speaking of the graduates, ” any commanding officer would be proud to call them their soldiers”.
Major John Dumpsy of the Canadian Armed Forces ESR represented the men who camped on site and framed up the main building at the Village of Hope during the beginning years.
Lt. Col. Weber went on to say: “We want to continue to partner with the Village of Hope in the great work they are doing”.
President and Co-Founder of the Village of Hope :
Rev. Andrew Vähi spoke to the crowd about the beginnings of the Village of Hope.
“We started with so little and so many have helped. It is great to have such a Premier who believes in God and stands with us – we are proud to have him here today!”
Congratulations from Western Canada: Apostolic Church of Pentecost Canadian Director Rev. Kenn Parker brought greetings and read a letter of congratulations sent by Wes Mills and the ACOP International. Rev. Parker shared: “I am personally proud to be associated with and have as my friends Märt and Andrew Vähi. I have known them for many years and think this is so great!”
Also in attendance were District Director and ACOP Board of Trustee member Rev. John Stewart as well as former District Director Rev.Verner Drost and many other pastors and representatives of the ACOP as well as other denominations were on hand for the event.
Family Shares Their Story: A graduate of the program Darren Watson with his mother and dad. “Today, I have my life back!”, stated Darren with great emotions. His mom shared: “Once again for myself and other moms out there – there is hope!”
Cake Cutting Ceremony: Members of the ceremony slice into the “Village of Hope Grand Opening” cake which was also decorated with the Village logo. The cake, salmon together with the use of the food tent and sound service was all donated by Glenn Cooke of Cooke Aquaculture.
Maple Sugar Industry at the Village: Volunteer and supporter of the Village of Hope, Richard Plourde, explains to the Premier, during a walk about tour of the industry, the process of maple sugar syrup production.
The Maritime tradition of maple syrup production was and continues to be in the Plourde family in Northern New Brunswick to this day. Richard lends his expertise to the development of the industry at the Village of Hope and on top of it all also donated the new $14,000 evaporator to the Village.
A new “Sugar Shack” is in the planning stages for the near future accompanied with plans for family excursions to view production and pancake breakfasts for the public to enjoy. The industry has become a signature product for the Village of Hope.
Industry at the Village of Hope: President of the Village of Hope Rev. Andrew Vähi explains to Premier Alward the operation of the Wood-Mizer sawmill along with the purpose and importance of the industry at the Village. Industry plays an unique part in helping men develop work ethics and skills which they need in the program as well as after returning to public life. The other aspect which is important is the need to help cover the daily cost of operation at the Village of Hope. These daily costs are not all covered by industry, though they contribute substantially, donations from the public, churches and various other sources are not only helpful but very much depended on.
Circling Up in Prayer by the River: The event wound up at the bank of the North West Branch of the Oromocto River with Premier David Alward leading in prayer accompanied clockwise, by Märt Vähi, Glenn Cooke, Lt. Col. Tony Weber, Andrew Vähi, Kenn Parker and Jack Carr. This was the same spot some three and a half years ago Andrew together with his father Märt and staff member Greg Rasmussen had worked their way from the highway through heavy brush with a power saw to reach the river and there in the same spot prayed for God’s continued guidance and provision for the vision of the Village of Hope.
Live TV Show: Dropline host Joe Trevors interviews Andrew Vähi and graduate Adam Lewis on the subject of complications of addictions, helping those in addiction and events of the day at Village of Hope.
Märt Vähi in summing up the day expressed the occasion as: “One which superseded all expectations! A great day in the Kingdom!”