Souls Harbour merging with Pathways to Freedom Ministries

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission is merging with Pathways to Freedom Ministries, the two Halifax-based groups said this week.

Groups hope to help more people with united front

Margaret Kethro enjoys an Easter meal at Souls Harbour earlier this year. The group hopes to expand its good works by merging with Pathways to Freedom. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission is merging with Pathways to Freedom Ministries, the two Halifax-based groups said this week.

Souls Harbour helps people get out of poverty and addiction by providing recovery programs, clothing and shelter, and emergency help such as food. Pathways to Freedom matches Christian volunteers offering spiritual counselling with inmates or former inmates.

Michelle Porter of Souls Harbour said she had coffee with Bob George, the executive director of Pathways, and they realized they could do more together.

'The only redundancy was the vision'

"Right now there are no redundancies. The only redundancy was the vision," she said Friday.

Souls Harbour is the bigger organization and will take over all administrative and fundraising duties. Many of their clients overlap, she said.

"[Prison] goes hand in hand with addiction and sadly with violence and poverty," she said. "We are able, with two chaplains on the same team, to give them the tools they need … to crawl out of that lifestyle, or say just manage the holidays while dad's in prison."

George will focus on expanding his prison-visiting work to more institutions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

"One of the new places they'd like to go is the women's prison, and that's really cool for me," Porter said.

Michelle Porter, founder of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, started out helping people in prison and is glad to return to those roots. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

Returning to their roots

Porter and her husband Ken founded a Souls Harbour Rescue Mission in Regina, Sask., in 2000, and a decade later did the same thing in Halifax. But Michelle Porter said when they were a new couple in their 20s, they did weekly prison visits to offer chapel services and spiritual support to inmates.

"It's kind of going back to my roots. I like that part. But the other thing is to be able to work with men and women in a more full capacity," she said.

George said he was happy to hand over the administration and fundraising duties. "My real passion and calling is to work on the ground level to provide hope and healing to those who are re-entering our communities," he said in a note posted to the Pathways website.

Part of the expanded work will be looking to buy a property to house ex-cons with addiction issues as they do a long-term recovery program.

They're celebrating with a joint Christmas party Friday at 5 p.m. at 5568 Cunard St.