© 2019 The Vancouver Friends for Life Society


About Us

Founded in 1993, the Vancouver Friends for Life Society is an innovative wellness centre, built on the belief that no one should have to face the many challenges of HIV/ AIDS, cancer, and other serious illness alone. Our mission is to provide emotional, psychological, spiritual and practical support to people living with life-challenging illness and help for their families and caregivers. Our philosophy recognizes the connection between the mind and body with a view towards treating the whole person - the mind, body and soul – rather than treating the illness alone. Our programs and services focus on wellness, a holistic approach to healing, and are intended to complement primary medical care. Offered in a safe, confidential environment these programs are designed to help our members gain control over their health and to reduce the anxiety, stress and isolation of fighting their illness.


Vancouver Friends for Life welcomes people in Vancouver City Centre facing life challenges associated with HIV, Cancer, and Hepatitis C to participate in specialized support programs.


Our goals are:


  • to support client-members in taking an active and supporting role in their health care and maintenance.

  • to empower client-members with a selection of wellness practices that complement other treatments, and to offer support through a community sharing and participation.

  • to offer physical, spiritual, personal and social support so that our client-members attain their personal wellness aspirations.

  • to help client-members be proactively engaged in their well-being, as they look forward to a future of wellness and active participation in our community.


Click here for a copy of our constitution and bylaws (updated December 2017)

Jesse Brown

Executive Director

Diane Pepin

Program Manager

Robert Ablenas
Jeffrey Faesen
Vice President
Arneh Khatchatourians

Robert Ablenas is an activist and knowledge philanthropist. He has worked on Vancouver community-based health initiatives that most recently include, but are not limited to, membership on Community-Based Research Standing Committee, Positive Living Society of BC (2012-15); moderator of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Café Scientifique “Employing HIV Peer Research Associates: Are we providing enough support?” (2013); collaborator on the CIHR-funded health research project “PRA Plus: Building a mentorship program for Peer Research Associates working in HIV research” (2013-14); volunteer at Vancouver Friends for Life Society (2015-present); and collaborator on the CIHR-funded oral history research project “HIV in My Day: Reflecting Back, Looking Forward: An Oral History of the First Decades of Vancouver’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic” (2016-present).

Megan Marziali

Megan has just finished her BSc. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia. She has experience conducting research in the field of HIV and aging, and hopes to use her knowledge to benefit Friends for Life and its’ many members. She strongly believes in the importance of community involvement, and is very excited to serve on the board!

Jeffrey Faesen is an Alternative Lending Mortgage Professional with Equitable Bank. He is a creative thinker and a people person. He has volunteered with Vancouver Friends for Life Society in contexts of fundraising, strategic planning, and program hosting.

John Dub

Friends for Life has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve had the opportunity to help out here at the house in various capacities over the years - I’d consider myself a long time community activist and volunteer.

Former board member, retreat team member and treasurer at Positive Living Society of BC, along with numerous other volunteer projects within the agency.
I’ve also been involved with the Queer Film Festival, Health Initiative for Men (HIM), and took part in the HIV in my Day oral history project. I participated in the Troublemakers film project with Reel Youth, sharing my story of living as a long time HIV survivor.

Currently, I am a Trainer with the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDI) affiliated with the Pacific AIDS Network (PAN). Also serve as a board member with the West End Coal Harbour Community Policing.
I am the proud recipient of the 2018 AccolAIDS award for peoples choice.
It’s a true honour and privilege to be a part of the board team here at Vancouver Friends for Life.

Arneh is a Senior Associate at Renaissance Mergers & Acquisitions Inc. experienced in working with businesses in multiple industries ranging from technology to engineering. Arneh's focus at Renaissance is in providing transaction advisory (buy and sell-side), valuations and financial modeling, deal structuring, and due diligence services.

 Arneh is a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant), and holds a BSc in Computer Science from UBC. He has volunteered with Vancouver Friends for Life Society in the role of treasurer and strategic planning.

Parisa Hurst

Parisa Hurst is a lawyer in Vancouver, specializing in commercial real estate. She has worked with real estate investors, developers, landlords and tenants. She has the pleasure of serving Vancouver Friends for Life as a member of the board.

Chris Martin

Chris Martin is a Senior Financial Analyst with Healthcare Benefit Trust and a member of CPABC since 2011. His work in a not-for-profit health and welfare trust has made him a strong supporter of improved accessibility to health care and social services. With his fundraising experience and social committee leadership he intends to boost Vancouver Friends for Life Society’s service to the community through enduring and sustainable initiatives.