Your gift will be doubled when you support youth like Reem

Learn more

Under One Roof: A Conversation with Allan Seckel

Allan Seckel, KC (King’s Counsel) has been a member of CHV’s Board for 10 years, and its Chair for the last four.

Allan has many accolades including being the Deputy Attorney General, Deputy Minister of British Columbia, and CEO for Doctors of BC. Allan is Chair of Legal Aid BC and BC Housing, and has board positions with ICBC and TransLink.

Allan is stepping down as Chair of CHV’s Board at the end of this month, so we chatted with him about his tenure and experiences, as well as his thoughts about CHV, moving forward.

Allan first became aware of CHV when he was working in the Ministry of Justice. Youth issues were an important part of that Ministry and they found that youth homelessness was a key component of these issues. Allan knew some associates who were on CHV’s Board and saw the results that Covenant House was already starting to achieve in the community.

“I was, impressed with the work that had already done. I then had occasion to have a friend who was on the Board who asked me to consider joining the Board, in 2013. And that led to a train of events that saw me join the Board that at the end of that year.”

When asked why he joined the Board, Allan said, “Anyone can become vulnerable at any time in their life. We just don’t know what events might cross our paths. And for each person, it’s a different journey. Being part of an organization that is assisting people on their journeys in a way that that provides them with some stability, whether it’s for a night, for a week, or for longer, has always been really, really important to me. My mission statement is really about making sure that I help my community be better than it was before. I try to do that in a variety of different ways. Covenant House was a key part of me fulfilling that sense of what’s important to me and to my community.”

During Allan’s time on the Board, there were many discussions about youth homelessness and how to best serve Metro Vancouver and the province. It was decided that, for now, the best use of resources was to focus on support in Metro Vancouver. Allen is quite proud of the strategic direction that the Board went in that resulted in new buildings and more programs. He thinks that it will be interesting, moving forward, what discussions will happen around supporting youth.

I think that there’s going to be some interesting conversations once we’ve fully absorbed and used up the capacity that the new buildings afford us. I think it’s going to be interesting to have those discussions. Again, there are so many communities in British Columbia that could benefit from a Covenant house approach. I know from my work in other places that on a per capita basis, homelessness is actually worse in some of the smaller towns in British Columbia than it is in Vancouver. It’ll be an interesting conversation for the future of Covenant House to decide whether it’s able to go into those communities and assist those communities as well. I look forward to observing that, and seeing how Covenant House grows.”

Allan praised the staff at CHV and commented on their passion for what they do. “I mean the staff are phenomenal. You know, … one of the things that makes it easy to maintain that passion, if you’re involved with Covenant House, is that every time you have an experience with a member of the Covenant House staff, you feel the passion from them. It fuels that sense of purpose that you might’ve come into it with. I’m grateful for all of the phenomenal people that I’ve been exposed to over the years, at Covenant House.”

Allan feels that an important element in maintaining and increasing support for vulnerable youth is to build relationships with people in government. Governments change and there will be times that there will be more support available, and times where there will be less. For the longevity of an organization and to build a thriving community, building these relationships is very important.

As for CHV itself, moving forward, Allan believes that “I do think that what Covenant House is embarking on, in terms of assisting youth that are troubled by addictions, is an important part of where we should expand. I think that there is such a need there.”

Allan is extremely grateful for the incredible support from everyone who donates to Covenant House. “I’m grateful to every person that’s given a dollar or millions of dollars to Covenant House. Everything’s been so helpful to provide what we do. I think that we are blessed with that base of people that really see the value of Covenant House and are prepared to give. You know, a large number of people prepared to give a small amount, still leads to a large number. And I think that’s part of our future.”

When asked why he thinks that people should support CHV, Allan said, “Well, first of all, I would just say that it’s a great organization. What makes us so special is that we are dealing with the future. We’re dealing with youth that are going to be part of our community, for a long time to come. If you want an organization that is dedicated to providing love and respect to youth at the time when they may be at a great need, you can’t find a better organization than Covenant House to donate your money to. It’s an organization that cares. It’s an organization that has great people in it. It’s an organization that will use your donation effectively. And it’s an organization that, I believe, is really making a difference in terms of what our community is like.”

Thank you, Allan, for your years of dedicated service to, and leadership of, CHV!

You can hear the full podcast here.

And, if you’d like to donate, this is an excellent time as our Triple Match Campaign is on now, but only until December 31st! Donate today!