Our Story

Cyrus Centre co-founders Les Talvio and Joyce McElhoes

Imagine being 14 with no place to call home, no place to have a shower, and no place to get a warm meal. Many youth experiencing homelessness felt they had no option but to exploit themselves to meet their most basic needs. A 2004 point-in-time study found that there were several homeless youth within Abbotsford with no support or services. Les Talvio and Joyce McElhoes forged the way for youth in Abbotsford to have their most essential needs met. With the support of local churches, businesses and individuals, Cyrus Centre could fundraise its first year’s budget within 90 days, and the vision to create a safe place for youth soon became a reality.

Volunteers worked tirelessly around the clock to restore a rundown space into a safe haven for youth to seek refuge from the streets. When Cyrus Centre opened its doors, it was open all afternoon and evening, seven days a week. Cyrus Centre started with two staff and one volunteer. Cyrus Centre was the first and only place for youth to get a hot meal, shower, do laundry, and receive support when all other services were closed outside of regular business hours. 

The needs didn’t stop with just meals, laundry and showers. There was still no shelter available to youth in the entire Fraser Valley, so in 2008, Cyrus Centre opened the first youth emergency shelter and provided a safe place to sleep for four youths every night. Cyrus Centre had gone from operating 8 hours a day to being open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. With the success of the Abbotsford location, Cyrus Centre was invited to open its doors in Chilliwack in the fall of 2014, offering the same around-the-clock services.

Since its inception, Cyrus Centre has grown immensely and now operates 4 locations between Chilliwack and Abbotsford. What started with just a handful of dedicated people has grown into an organization with over 60 staff and volunteers. Cyrus Centre has helped thousands of youth exit life on the streets and access safe housing. Cyrus Centre’s name was inspired by Isaiah 45:13 (NLT), where it is written, “I will raise up Cyrus to fulfil my righteous purpose, and I will guide all his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people – and not for a reward! I the Lord Almighty have spoken!”. Since 2004 Cyrus Centre has seen youth set free from captivity and the lives of youth and relationships with their families restored.