Posts Tagged ‘House of Friendship’

Crossing the Bridge and Seeing the Reality of True Compassion | #12Days4Good

December 8, 2016

Crossing The Bridge

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person. I’ve volunteered my entire life, cared about and supported a variety causes, and been known as a sort of ‘Save the (fill in the blank)’ type. But over the decades I’ve noticed that my view and expression of compassion is not only ever changing, it is also never entirely perfect, complete, or ‘full’.

In a compelling TEDtalk ‘The Power of Connection’ (that further shifted my ideas around what being compassionate truly means) Hedy Schleifer recounts how she would visit her ailing mother who was in a wheelchair and hadn’t recognized her daughter for months. After time, Schleifer realized that during her visits she was not truly visiting her mother. She was visiting with grief. She was visiting with guilt. So she decided she would cross the bridge from the world of her own emotion, leaving the place where she was struggling, so she could go to visit with her mother. When she did this, her mother recognized her.

Hearing Schleifer’s story challenged me to think of the ways I do not always stop to cross that bridge and how often our compassion is expressed without learning about the rich landscape of others. It’s an idea that is crystallized for me in the 12 Days 4 Good campaign, when we are called not only to give and do good but to pause and reflect more fully on the ways in which we do that.

How can I make my compassion more full?

How, as Schleifer describes, can I listen to others as though I am learning a new language, the language of another?

There’s an intimacy to compassion that calls on us to learn, to understand and to know more fully the journeys, challenges and humanness of the people around us:

  • knowing as much as we can about the organizations we support and the people within them
  • spending time with the people our actions impact through service, volunteering, and mentorship
  • having conversations about the needs in our community with people who are doing the work
  • setting aside our assumptions, stereotypes, and judgments to learn about issues from another’s perspective and experience
  • being willing to do things that are needed, rather than just convenient

-By Jane Barkley

 

Seeing the Reality

Compassion can be expressed in so many ways. For people like myself, I find that my compassion for others is not easily expressed in ways that others relate to. It does not mean I don’t have or don’t feel compassion – it is a daily, and hourly (if not more) emotion that affects my actions all the time.

I learned from my parents what compassion is. I did not always understand the reason why they did all the extra they did for just about everyone, but as I became an adult, I got it. We are here to make this world better. When we see someone that is in need of something you have, well… you share it. Every little bit helps, just by caring and investing in those around you.

Compassion is about seeing the realities of those around you. Not as how you would see them, but as how they would see them. Understanding and feeling the vulnerabilities, the fears, the challenges that these people have to face. When I take a moment to do this, the next thing I do is ask myself what can I do to help?

-By Darrick Hahn

 

12 days 4 good day 1

“Sympathy sees and says ‘I’m sorry’. Compassion sees and says ‘I’ll help’” TWEET THIS

Jane Barkley and Darrick Hahn are today’s featured Do Gooder (pair). To learn more about them and the 12 Days 4 Good campaign visit 12days4good.com

Working Together For Community

April 8, 2015

Reading our volunteer profiles, you may get a sense of the diversity of experience that makes House of Friendship an interesting organization to be a part of.  Today I would like to share the first part of an ongoing series where we share about what inspires and drives the people who work at House of Friendship. Here is Michael Hackbusch.

 

Michael

 

Where do you work and what do you do?
As Chaplaincy Director my office is currently at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel but I work in the community: advocacy group, teaching students, preaching at local churches, interfaith partnerships, HOF event promoter, pastoral care, Leadership Team, Spirituality group leader with addictions programs. The work is certainly diverse but always returns to the basic task of promoting HOF’s vision of a healthy community where all can belong and thrive. (more…)

The Story of 174 King North

November 24, 2014

Today we have a post by Robbie from Addictions Services in the first of a series of blogs providing information about the specific addictions programs. This blog will talk about 174 King Street North.

Almost 40 Years of Healing

174 King Street North is House of Friendship’s men’s residential addiction treatment program. This program is the first addiction treatment program that was operated by House of Friendship and they first began service in 1975. 174 King Street North was opened as a way to respond to the needs of the community at that time, and has continued to meet the needs of men who have serious substance use issues for almost 40 years.

174 King Street North is a unique program, located in the heart of Waterloo. Men come to the program from anywhere in the province of Ontario and the length of stay is up to six months. There is a capacity of 15 men in the program at any one time. There are many things that make the 174 King Street North program unique. It is one of the only programs that does not have 24/7 hour staffing, meaning that the men live in the house and staff come in during the day to facilitate a structured, intensive, program including both psycho-educational groups and individual counselling.

Unique Community

Staff members are always available to men after hours via a pager; however, this unique structure has contributed to the men developing their own sense of community, as they are reliant on themselves and each other to maintain a safe environment for all who reside there. The groups that are part of the program are ; Communication Skills, Healthy Relationships, Masculinity & Sexuality, Recreation, Relapse Prevention, Family Issues, Personal Goal Setting, Positive Life Skills, Group Counselling and Interpersonal Relationships. After care Group Counselling is also available.

The program is operated by a relatively small, extremely dedicated staff team who put their all into their work. The men who attend the program are provided many opportunities to go out in the community and develop relationships with others in recovery. The final phase of treatment at 174 King Street North provides men with the opportunity to move to a house which provides less structure to help men transition back into the community. This house has room for five men to attend and while they are still attend group programming and participate in counselling at 174 King, they also have the opportunity to look for employment, housing, volunteer opportunities or apply to go back to school.

Recovery and Celebration

Many men over the past years have taken the opportunities that the treatment program at 174 King Street North has provided them to change their lives. Many men who have completed  the program still have friendships with men they were in the program with and still connect with staff. Some take the time to return to the program and share their story with the new men seeking recovery. 174 provides two structured celebrating sobriety dinners in the year to provide the opportunity for alumni from the program to attend and reconnect.

 

 

Reflections on Becoming (slightly) More Aware of Aboriginal Culture and Traditions

October 21, 2014

Today, I am pleased to share with you a blog post from Ron, our Residential Services Program Director.

 

House of Friendship believes strongly in housing as a right

Recently through two opportunities I have become more deeply aware of aboriginal people and culture that we rub shoulders with in our region.

On August 28, 2014 I attended an  Aboriginal Homelessness Prevention Day event sponsored by KW Urban Native Wigwam Project at Kitchener City Hall.

There are several local aboriginal organizations in town that provide a variety of services and supports.  KW Urban Native Wigwam Project, Healing of the Seven Generations, Weejeendimin Native Resource Centre and White Owl Native Ancestry are located at 300 Frederick Street.  Anishnabeg Outreach is located at 151 Frederick Street.  People at any of these organizations are very open to visitors dropping by to become familiar with the services they offer. (more…)

“I Have Always Found a Friend in Music”

September 25, 2014

Today we have a post by Martin and Ashley W from the Men’s Hostel sharing details of a recent event organized by staff and residents

“One of the marvellous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.  When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing” Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

Charles St. Men’s hostel held its third open mic night at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Thursday August 28th.  The open mic began with a vision to bring people together to share their talents and build a sense of community. We hoped to enact, in a very obvious and practical way, the more abstract HOF value of inclusion, which states that “We believe everyone has a seat at the table.” So we set up tables–thanks for the tables, St. Andrews!–and got to barbecuing, making sure we had enough food and seats for everyone from the community who wanted to eat, or sit and take in the festivities.

Residents from the Hostel and community volunteers were there to assist with food prep and serving.  It was a wonderful experience to see people coming together to help each other and make a contribution even in times of personal struggle.  We were grateful to walk beside these volunteers and participants during this experience and work in partnership as peers in bringing fun and sense of belonging to the community.

Once bodies were nourished, we started the soul-enriching work of making and listening to music.

Guests and participants of all ages came from House of Friendship programs and the community to share.  Over 125 people joined us at St Andrews to enjoy the local talent.  A fantastic local band including a resident of one House of Friendship’s programs volunteered to play for the event. They started off the evening setting the musical mood as one of relaxation and fun.  As the meal came to an end the floor was opened up for anyone to participate in sharing their talents and all in attendance were lucky enough to enjoy some of the talent from our supportive housing residents who brought the church to fits of laughter with their creative jokes and some singing.

The band was excellent in making everyone feel a sense of belonging. In one beautiful and improvised moment, they extended the hand of friendship to a resident who felt inspired to contribute a vocal solo, by using their instrumental talents to compliment his vocals and even including some back-up vocals. And in that moment the delicate joy that happens through shared music sat around us all.

All in all it was a wonderful night and we were inspired by the level of commitment, dedication, and involvement by participants of House of Friendship programming in the prep and running of this community event.  We really could not have done this without the generous assistance of the people we serve and are grateful to be able to work for an organization which encourages such a sense of community. We would finally like to thank St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for making this event possible by allowing us to use their space and graciously being available to help with set up.  We would also like to thank everyone who volunteered or assisted in any way and everyone who simply came to enjoy the event and be with us in this time of sharing and community building.

Volunteers Profiled: The Band of Johns

September 22, 2014

Volunteers Embody the spirit of Sunnydale and House of Friendship

Many Canadians wake up early each Thursday to get ready for work. Such are my Thursdays this summer, but not everyone shares my schedule, not exactly anyway. I was fortunate to meet three wonderfully “atypical” individuals one Thursday at the Sunnydale Community Centre.

Their names are John Thiessen, John Paterson and John Wilken, or, as they prefer to be recognized, John 1, John 2 and John 3, respectively. Those numbers refer to their seniority as volunteers at the Sunnydale Community Centre. Each John is extremely different and together they form a sort of modern day Band of Robin Hood; the Band of Johns if you will. However, there is one major distinction between the two brotherhoods; unlike the Band of Robin Hood, the Band of Johns use donations and their time to aid those in need.  Their dedication to ensuring that the dietary needs of others are met, along with their compassionate and altruistic nature, shows through in all aspects of their volunteer work at Sunnydale. (more…)

Wonderfully Messy: The State of Our Housing Programs Today

July 11, 2014

 

House of Friendship's Awesome Wall

Deb poses with the part of the Awesome Wall that she helped create.  A public art feature that symbolizes a part of the new energy bubbling up in the Supportive Housing Program at House of Friendship

“Supportive housing combines bricks-and-mortar with special supports to meet the physical and mental health needs of tenants.” (Source here) Ensuring that residents have Housing First, and then also a comprehensive range of supports, supportive housing proposes to be more empowering, more likely to help people live happy, healthy and meaningful lives than shelters or other short term housing approaches.

Building bridges and supporting communities

But what does this look like in practice? A quick glance at downtown Kitchener shows how delightfully messy the process can be!

House of Friendship has created a unique space in downtown Kitchener. They have a series of adjoining properties on Charles Street and Eby Street in downtown Kitchener. Eby Village, Charles Village, the Men’s Hostel and Cramer House all serve a diverse set of needs and now, there is something happening here that ignores the walls and gates in between these House of Friendship buildings.

Residents from Eby Village show up at Cramer House to play pool with some new friends. A few men from the hostel plant flowers for the neighborhood on Eby Street that a few Supportive Housing tenants will hand out to bridge the gap between Supportive Housing and the greater community. Catherine the Community Garden Worker works with tenants to create green spaces around the buildings. “I think that community gardens and green spaces bring so much to all of those around them: connection, hard work, fresh air, the pleasure of green, vibrant spaces and the magic of watching something transform right in front of you. It is exciting to help to cultivate these spaces with all of the buildings and slowly watch them grow.” (more…)

What I’ve learned in a year at the Food Hamper Program

May 10, 2013

After almost exactly a year of working here, today is my last day at the Food Hamper Program. I am sad to leave the staff and volunteers here as I’ve formed some great friendships and learned a lot about the KW community, but I’m looking forward to new adventures, including travelling this summer and going back to school in September.

building_outside

I’ve learned a lot in the year that I’ve been here. Here are some things I’ll take away from my time.

There is no one kind of person who needs food assistance

I’ve learned that there is no one kind of person that comes to a food bank—there is a huge diversity of people who need food assistance, and they have taken many paths to get here. Many people face barriers to finding work and thus having an adequate income due to discrimination. Perhaps they identify as transgender, are a recent immigrant or refugee, or have a disability. I’ve learned that no one is on social assistance because they’re simply ‘lazy,’ but that there are a multitude of reasons people live in poverty, ranging from the kinds of jobs available to a lack of affordable childcare to health problems. Each person has their own story of why they are at the food hamper program.

The way we treat people living on low income needs to change…now.

I’ve learned that the way social assistance is set up helps no one, and a dollar added to social assistance is more than a dollar saved in other areas. I’ve learned that poverty and health are so closely intertwined that I’m not sure you can talk about one without talking about the other.  Most importantly to me, I’ve learned that eliminating poverty is the logical thing to do, not only from an ethical but from an economic standpoint. It makes far more sense to give people an adequate income and save money elsewhere in the system, especially in the health care and justice sectors. I have hope that others think this way. Though there is a long road ahead when it comes to poverty elimination, there are a lot of dedicated people making very good cases as to why poverty should be a priority for all levels of government moving forward.

I’ve learned all about foods I never knew existed

We receive all kinds of food donations. Before working here I had never seen chayote squash, bitter melon, chinese long beans, or lychee fruit. Now I could tell you what their main nutritional qualities are and how to cook them!

I am disappointed to leave the House of Friendship because it’s an organization I believe in. I’m proud of that the organization has decided to speak up on important issues, and advocate for a more just society. I decided to work here in the first place because, though I don’t believe food aid should have to exist, the program’s philosophy was in line with my own. I believe people coming in for food aid should not be policed, or asked invasive questions about their household finances. I’ve been lucky to be able to visit other House of Friendship programs and learn about the community building and advocacy that goes on at our community centres and residential programs as well.

I’ve been so privileged in the past year to work with dedicated staff and volunteers who believe in the program like I do, and who are working every day to create the kind of community they want to be a part of. I’ll miss it here.

Strategic Planning (or, why we need a House of Friendship road map)

July 31, 2012

This year at the House of Friendship we developed a new strategic plan for the whole organization, including new mission and vision statements, and new organizational values. Visit our website to read our full plan (its not long, I promise!) Over 400 people were consulted in the development phase of the strategic plan, and over one third of those consulted were past and present program participants. This is the first of a series of blog posts that will explore these new statements in relation to Food Hampers and other House of Friendship programs. Before I get into how the strategic plan shapes our programs, I want to go into the importance of having a strategic plan.

This article on strategic planning starts with a quote from Wayne Gretzky, who once said “I skate to where I think the puck will be.” Similarly, the House of Friendship needs to not only be aware of current social realities (poverty, disability, troubled neighborhoods and communities for example), but anticipate future social realities in order to grow to meet the needs of our community.

Think about each House of Friendship program as a person. Together, the programs form a group of people who are navigating obstacles as they try to support people through housing instability, isolation, poverty, addiction, and food insecurity. Picture this group of people travelling on a journey, where they have agreed on an end point—a city, for example. They also agree on how they will travel to this city; by foot, by car, by bike, or by transit. They know it is going to take them a long time—probably years—to reach their end point, so they decide on a set of guiding principles to help them work together as a group, and to determine how to act should they run into problems.

In real life, a strategic plan works much like this. For the House of Friendship, the end goal of our work is our vision: A healthy community where all can belong and thrive.  Maybe this will be unattainable in our lifetimes, but this is the work we have set for ourselves throughout our history. How we get there is our mission statement: House of Friendship strengthens people and communities by being there when needed, speaking up and working together. The shared principles about how we act and how we treat others on our journey are our core values. Going back to the hockey analogy, Wayne Gretzky doesn’t play hockey with a copy of the team’s mission, vision, and values out at all time, but he does pay attention to the coach’s game plan, while taking into account the immediate realities of his surroundings. In the same way, the House of Friendship has a game plan, or strategic plan, which helps individual programs deal with new situations as we travel down the path to a healthier community.

In the long-term, a good strategic plan should shape every operation of the organization. Each program should fit into the organizational mandate and operate in line with the values. In an organization like the House of Friendship where there are many programs in different places around Waterloo Region, it can also be a unifying force; although I rarely see our community centres in action, because I work at the food hamper program, I know they are working towards the same common cause.

In upcoming posts this summer we are going to explore how our programs are thinking about and living out our new strategic plan in their day to day work. We have a really diverse set of programs that each contribute to creating a healthy community in their own way, and we share common values that bind us together. I’m looking forward to explore the impact of the new plan on all of the work we do at the House of Friendship. Stay tuned!

Not so different after all

December 24, 2011

Today is the day before Christmas, a day when many of us will be exchanging gifts with friends and family and coming together.  Today we thought it would be timely to share a few words from Michael Hackbusch, the Chaplaincy Director at House of Friendship about the local faith community, and the many gifts they share with our community each year.

(more…)