Archive for May, 2014

Myra’s Story

May 27, 2014

To share her perspective on the play Myra’s Story, we are pleased to share the following reflections from Jennifer Cornish,who assumes the role of Myra in the hilarious and heart-breaking one woman play. Myra’s Story chronicles the life of a homeless Irish woman who sardonically describes herself as a “wine connoisseur.”

When House of Friendship (HOF) set out to transform its women’s addiction services facilities, we also wanted to raise awareness about women and addiction as a way of reducing the stigma than can act as a barrier to recovery. Although the Under One Roof capital campaign to create a new recovery centre for women is complete, our commitment to raising awareness continues.  Myra’s Story is one way of continuing the important conversation about women and alcohol. Since Under One Roof was launched at HOF’s 2012 Annual Meeting, it seems only fitting to officially mark its end at the 2014 Annual Meeting, and to do so with a play that will provoke and inspire continued discussion.

You can meet Myra, at our upcoming Annual Meeting on Tuesday June 17.  RSVP online here, and soon, as space is very limited!  But be aware, this play doesn’t gloss over what it’s like to be in Myra’s shoes.  The play explores mature themes and contains mature language. (more…)

Our Common Ground: A 75 Year Journey

May 20, 2014

Extending the Hand of Friendship for 75 years at the House of Friendship

Throughout House of Friendship’s (HOF) 75th year of service we are Remembering, Reflecting and Renewing. This discussion starts and ends with HOF’s core values. When we introduce people to House of Friendship, we share our core values: COMPASSION – We extend the hand of friendship; INCLUSION- We believe everyone has a seat at the table; JUSTICE- We value a society where all have a voice; DIGNITY- We honour the self-respect of each person; and, HOPE – We always see hope, even in times of trouble. We explain that these values are inspired by Christian Faith.

What does this mean, ‘Inspired by Christian Faith’? We think this is a fair question. After all, we want you to get to know House of Friendship. And if we are to build a trusting, caring relationship then we need to be open and honest in all of our communications.

First, ‘Inspired by Christian Faith’ is an acknowledgement of our roots. House of Friendship was founded as an evangelical Christian storefront mission in 1939. As its services grew, House of Friendship evolved into a social service agency. It has retained a commitment to serve mind, body and spirit, but respects the right of any individual to define their spirituality at all times.

Second, throughout its history, House of Friendship has had, and continues to have, very close working relationships with local Christian churches and the Mennonite community. House of Friendship ‘For All Nations’ has always served anyone, but as it grew into a social service agency, its diversity increased. Today, House of Friendship is a diverse organization in every sense of the word, welcoming people of all faiths amongst its staff, volunteers, community partners, supporters, and participants.

Over the years we have come to understand, and to appreciate, that the values to which we subscribe are not exclusive to any one faith, including Christianity. Rather, they are our shared values, the common ground on which we stand. This is best illustrated in the Charter of Compassion (November 12, 2009), seen here:

The Charter starts by saying, “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions.” It goes on to say that compassion demands that we work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of others and that we treat everyone with equity, justice and respect. Sounds good to us!

The Charter, the dream of Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun, was created on-line by more than 150,000 contributors from around the world. It is a call to action to return to this ‘Golden Rule’ as a way of building humanity and creating a just and peaceful society for all.

House of Friendship’s vision, ‘building a healthy community where all can belong and thrive’, is part of this global movement. House of Friendship is proud of its history and sees it as a foundation on which we can help build a better tomorrow.

We invite all people in our community to serve with us as we strengthen people and communities by being there when needed, speaking up and working together.

 

The Leaders of Tomorrow – the Girls in Your Community

May 12, 2014

Joe Cramer at Kingsdale Community Centre House of Friendship Girls Leadership Group

Teamwork, friendship, energy, laughter and learning together – these are the words that stand out to me after attending the Girls Leadership Group at the Kingsdale Community Centre.

Despite the fact that I was a stranger to the group, the girls were very friendly and eager to include me into all the activities of the evening. After brief introductions and everyone taking turns sharing recent personal events or reflections, the girls set to work making a cucumber mango salad and a berry yogurt smoothie. Working together, the girls supported each other, asking one another questions along the way (like what is a mango?), and checking in with the group leader, Tracy, for help along the way. When finished, they sat down to enjoy their snack and work on a craft before cleaning up for the night.

“I tell my parents and my family what we do each week. I wish I could do this everyday!”

In a time where many adolescent girls struggle to establish who they are and what they believe, The Girls Leadership Group helps put together the pieces in facilitating their self learning and discovery. It’s a great approach to encourage girls to get involved in their local community, to prepare them for the years ahead, and to develop lasting friendships.

The Leadership Group is one of the many groups coordinated by the community centre, which has been running for approximately three years with funding from the United Way. Within each 13-week session there is a focus on helping young girls, aged 11 to 14, become strong leaders and self-advocates to achieving their dreams, and to work on making an impact on the world around them. Each week young women meet to share in new experiences, learn to become more confident and open with others, and establish new relationships. There is no cost to participants; however the benefits are endless.

“I used to be shy, but I met my best friend here. I’m not afraid to be myself anymore.”

Listening to the details that each girl was willing to share during circle time made it quickly evident that this group has developed a sense of closeness and trust in one another. For example, one girl was able to confide in the group about a sick relative and the emotional impact that possibly losing this person would have on her life. However for tonight she was able to leave that stress behind and focus on herself by having fun with the group. Tracy, the group leader, said that this is one of the many things that make this group great: the girls feel comfortable to allow you to share in their life story; but they give themselves the chance to do something positive for themselves and strengthen their friendships each week.

“You’ll find a way to fit in here! Despite the diversity in the group, everyone is able to find a commonality and I call them all my friends.”

GiL (19). Turkey driveJPGNone of the girls know what they’ll walk into before they attend: it could be focused on self-learning, trying a new food, doing a craft, playing a game, or practicing a skill – but it’s never the same thing twice! They have even participated in a number of volunteer events like the Turkey Drive and Potato Blitz. There are only a few things that are consistent week after week: the high energy that each girl brings; the group focus on positive social interaction and overall healthy living; and sharing in a healthy snack together.

While visiting the program, it was clear to see the impact of the program on each of the girls. Each one isn’t just coming to spend time with their friends; they keep coming because they have a lot of passion and want to make a difference in the world. Many of the girls said they’re planning to go to college or university one day. One specifically mentioned wanting to help people through addictions; and that this group has helped her begin to understand how we become who we are. Another wants to become a social worker because they look forward to becoming the type of person that others can talk to about their problems and struggles.

In conversation one participant shared that “this group makes me live happier…sometimes I get bullied at school, but then I come here and I can learn and have fun with friends.” Another participant followed up with “More people should come!”

If you know someone who is interested in participating in the program they can do so by calling the Kingsdale Community Centre at 519-741-2540 or by registering for the program on the City of Kitchener’s website here using program code 157726 .

Volunteers and guest speakers are always welcome, as are donations of grocery store gift cards to help provide healthy snacks.

 

Challenge and Encouragement – The Role of Peer Health and Shelter to Housing

May 8, 2014

Yesterday we posted about the upcoming Kindred Spirit BBQ happening today, Thursday at 5:30 at Kitchener City Hall.

Now I am happy to share an interview that Doug Rankin conducted with Clarence, an active community member working and walking beside people experiencing homelessness.  Clarence has his own lived experience to share, and a strong focus on the importance of community.  He will also be one of the two peopled recognized for their contributions locally.

What did you do as a Peer Health Worker at the Men’s Hostel?

I built relationships with people, and then supported them by listening and helping them solve problems. I would let them know what resources are available in the community so they had some points for accessing health care, housing, employment, food, clothing, and a lot of other resources. I was very positive and supportive of the men and would provide a lot of encouragement to them. And I was there to support them when they were ready move forward and make bigger changes. (more…)

A Call to Action from Kindred Spirits

May 7, 2014

Today I am pleased to share a post by Doug Rankin of the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre (KDCHC).  He has an important message about a great community event coming up this Thursday!  Tomorrow I will share an interview that he did with Clarence, a Shelter to Housing Worker at the Hostel and former Peer Health Worker with KDCHC who will receive an award at this event.

KDCHC_collogo

“We stand here tonight in solidarity with those who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. We all know that without our health we have nothing. Living without a home makes it impossible to maintain health. Every day is a challenge to find food, to stay warm and dry, to search out services, to find shelter, to seek health care, to be safe. Every day, witnessing friends struggling with illness and disease, often dying prematurely. We are a wealthy Region and it is not just that there are those without adequate shelter and living in poverty. No one should have to wait years on a list for affordable housing, sleep in unsafe and unsanitary rooming houses or spend the end of their life dying without a home. We ask you to now observe a moment of silence to show your support and to reflect on the work yet to be done.”

This is what volunteer Kim Wilson said to those attending the 9th Kindred Spirit BBQ last year, calling us to action as a community and highlighting the difficult reality that many live each day. (more…)

Quiet Moments of Community – Downtown and at Your Kitchen Table

May 6, 2014

One of the ways we are marking House of Friendship’s 75th year of service is with a special tea blend produced by local business, XTEA Co. House of Friendship is a leading provider of addiction treatment services. As such, we do not serve alcohol at any of our events. We do however, serve tea! What better way to toast our 75th year of service than with a special cup of ‘tea with Joe Cramer’? Read on, while you enjoy a nice warm cup of tea.

Zenia Horton of Xtea with House of Friendship Tea

The simple things bring back memories

I find that tea tends to slow people down. The preparation, the smell, the ritual… you are more present it seems when making and serving tea. Everyone seems to have a tea memory. When I started attending tea seminars I noticed that everyone has a favourite tea memory. The smell reminds them of something: maybe tea with their grandmother, or a tea cup close to their heart.

My name is Zenia Horton, and I own and operate a kitchen design business by the name of Zen Design. I am also the founder of a loose leaf tea company by the name of XTEA CO.

My passion for design and creating spaces for people to interact and communicate in led me to start a loose leaf tea company. Community is always an important part of what I do. (more…)

Hunger Awareness Week – May 5-9 – Who’s Helping in Waterloo Region?

May 5, 2014

Today, we are pleased to share a post from Kate, at the Food Bank of Waterloo Region about Hunger Awareness Week.

On my visits to The House of Friendship Emergency Hamper program I am always surprised how many of our neighbours need help with food assistance. There is no one type of person who requires food assistance. My visits remind me that many members of our community of different ages, genders and backgrounds need the help of a healthy hamper.

This week, May 5th to 9th, marks Hunger Awareness Week. (more…)