Author Archive

Reflections On Housing And Harm Reduction

October 9, 2015

This is the final part of the series of guest posts considering the topic of housing and harm reduction.  In this piece I am happy to share some reflections from Ron F, House of Friendship’s Residential Services Director.


(I write these reflections in the early morning setting of a coffee shop in downtown Kitchener. Some of the surrounding tables are occupied by strangers to me, others by people I know as tenants or residents of House of Friendship residential programs. We are all included in this daily community at the caffeine dispensary.)

I really like Sara’s framing of the issue of housing and harm reduction as an issue of community inclusion. This is aligned with our House of Friendship vision of “a healthy community where all can belong and thrive”. Community inclusion and harm reduction approaches both begin with “belonging” by “accepting a person where they are at” without judgement. I believe the goal is not simply “belonging”, but “healthy belonging” where “healthy” refers to a respectful social environment in which everyone’s capabilities are nurtured and accepted as valuable contributions to the community. (more…)

Reflections On A Summer At The Food Hamper Program

September 9, 2015

House of Friendship believes strongly in housing as a right

Today I am please to share the final post from one of our summer students, Khadija, where she shares some reflections on her eight weeks here at the Food Hamper Program.


I have had a new and eye opening experience here at the Emergency Food Hamper Program at the House of Friendship. I have been introduced to an environment that has allowed me to come in contact with an  array of individuals – from those facing food insecurity working to make ends meet to those teaching and/or getting numerous degrees at prestigious institutions.

I was extremely blessed to learn more about where and how I, as a student, millennial and general human being can be kinder, more understanding, conscious and loving. I’ve come to better grasp where my boundaries are with others so that I may courteously address them and stand up for myself. I’ve learned that respect is a word that is unique to each individual and should be attuned to each person’s comfort level – no two folks will have the same take on what is ok to say or do anytime or anyplace. It was a much needed summer here. I’m a better person for it. My values and ideals have been put to the test and I think that in itself has been the best thing that could have come out of the last two months. The next few paragraphs are going to delve into some of the challenges that I experienced and chose to address in my role as the Summer Special Projects Assistant here at the EFHP. Happy reading! (more…)

Welcome Chloe and Khadija

July 13, 2015

We are pleased to welcome Chloe and Khadija who will be with us at the Food Hamper Program from July to August.  They sat down together early on and took some time to interview each other.  Over the summer they will be writing a series of posts to share some of their experiences, to share the perspectives of the people we serve and to pass along a few of the things that they learn during their time with us.

Khadija shared:

“Chloe France has already volunteered at the House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper Program so she was ready to jump right in as my co-intern! As a fifth year student at the University of Waterloo she has kindly offered her tips and tricks for navigating successfully through not only work but also school. Her passion and keen interest in social relations keeps me excited to not only learn abundantly this summer while at the HOF but also work closely with a new friend.”

Chloe shared:

“Khadija Hamidzai is a new recruit to the Emergency Food Hamper Program making her first few days as a summer student quite an eye-opening experience! But with her purposeful attitude and vibrant personality she has taken all of her tasks in stride and has quickly meshed with the rest of the team. I am excited to watch her on her journey this summer as she continues to learn more about the people we work with and the issues we face creating experiences that she can take with her in her future career in this field.”


How To Take Two Trips For The Price Of One

June 19, 2015

Museums like the ROM, different cities, camps and more are all great places to go on a school trip. Photo via Flickr user Grant MacDonald

One of the nice things about being a parent is the opportunity to accompany your child or children on a school trip: you get some insight into class room dynamics, spend some time with your child, and learn a bit about the environment in which they spend so much of their time.

At the end of the year, many classes organize school trips.  I remember these as great experiences to go outside of the community I grew up in, visit new places with my friends and have a lot of fun.

For the first part of this week, my co-worker at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, Raymond, was absent as he accompanied one of his children on an end of year trip.  As a result I stepped into his role a little more than I usually do, and coordinated the challenging and interesting job of receiving, organizing, inventorying and distributing the many food donations we receive.  This week was a little more challenging than others. (more…)

Remembering Our Dear Friend Mike

May 25, 2015

Mike C was one of the best people I have ever had the privilege to meet

It is with a very heavy heart that we learned about the passing of our long time friend and volunteer Mike C. Profiled on our blog the qualities we described then continued to apply until the last time we saw him this past January when his battle with cancer forced him to take some time off.

He was always a caring, and generous person and made many lasting friends here.  Through his struggles with cancer he never lost his incredibly positive attitude.  He was always full of encouragement and support for those around him, and the many people he helped directly by assembling their food hampers.

His absence will be felt in many profound ways, but the qualities that he demonstrated are an example to all of us, and will inspire us as we carry on the work of helping others that he took such joy in doing.

A visitation will be held tomorrow, Tuesday May 26, as detailed here.

If you knew Mike please leave a comment below and join us in celebrating his life.

What Inspires Community Builders like Linda K?

May 20, 2015

Today I’m happy to share a short profile of Linda K, the soft spoken community builder who I first met running the Live and Learn Program.  She is now an integral part of the Sunnydale Community Centre. Thanks to our BSW student Lindsay, who sat down with Linda and had the following to share with us.

Where do you work and what do you do?

“I work at the Sunnydale Community Centre in North Waterloo. It is a wonderfully warm and welcoming community which is home to many individuals and families living on a low income, including many new Canadians from varied cultural backgrounds. I work in partnership with residents and community partners to help identify and provide services and programs that meet community needs.” (more…)

Gardens Grow Volunteer Engagement

April 24, 2015



This is the last post in a our week long series on the many gardens that have sprouted up around House of Friendship.  Aside from plants, there is a common thread that connects all of our different green endeavours together, and that is volunteers!

What better way to celebrate and recognize that amazing contribution than by sharing the words of Marlene, an all around incredible volunteer who was a dynamic presence at Supportive Housing last summer and fall.

She spent quite a bit of time working with tenants in the garden beds and kitchen, and shares some of her thoughts about what being a volunteer was like for her:

“Digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching things grow is every gardener’s delight. Last year, while digging in the dirt with House of Friendship residents, I had the opportunity re-visit the awe and wonder that comes along with seeing those little seeds sprout. We shared many laughs and chats while nurturing seedlings, creating new gardens and caring for mature plants.” (more…)

Gardens Grow Inclusion and Community Connections

April 23, 2015



Rewarding community connections are often growing side by side with tomatoes in the gardens at our supportive housing programs. “It’s nice to be in the garden with your friends, planting in the sun and talking to your seedlings.” A resident recently shared with us. Indeed, a lot is possible with a strong community, a generous spirit and some ingenuity. (more…)

Gardens Grow Green Communities

April 22, 2015

cat photos 2014 133
It has been our experience that a garden always gives back more than it receives. At House of Friendship this becomes clearer each spring as different communities and people connected to us start coming together to plan, to plant, to work and to celebrate. So many things come sprouting up from the gardens beside the vegetables: friendships, inclusion, new skills, laughter, stronger neighbourhood connections, healthier minds and bodies.

Giving Back on Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, celebrated around the world as a time to give back to the natural world around us and to promote greater environmental protection. It is one small way to give back to the world around us and to start up conversations about how we can continue to work towards greater stewardship of the environment- not just on Earth Day, but all year long. (more…)

Gardens Grow Healthy Food!

April 21, 2015

Today is the second day of our garden series on the blog. Yesterday we highlighted the different ways you get involved in the many different garden related activities at House of Friendship. Deb shared her experiences in the garden and how they helped her explore new food items and eat healthy treats like Kale chips!

House of Friendship gets creative in the garden with healthy choices and ideasWe had many opportunities to harvest the bounty of the garden and turn that bounty into delicious shared meals. We grew three types of kale last year, and it was by far the most celebrated vegetable.

The day we made Kale chips was a particularly spirited day, and everyone enjoyed trying out a number of seasoning combinations and waiting for these addictive treats to be out of the oven!

Kale Chips

Ingredients: Two bunches of Kale, olive oil, sea salt, other  seasonings as desired (garlic powder, cheese, cracked black pepper, fresh or dried herbs, curry powder) (more…)


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