Meet Gary. He is a fan of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and proudly shares how he once met him in person. He holds a full-time job at a local manufacturing company. He also enjoys reading and volunteering his time to support men just like him: men who have lost everything due to their addictions and are struggling to get back on their feet.
Gary spends his evenings and weekends at the House of Friendship's dry house. This particular dry house was made possible by the support of KWCF donors who were looking to make a difference. Because of their gift, an idea turned into a reality.
When a donor reaches out to The KWCF, the future always gets brighter. Donors might be very specific in their desires to support one area, one organization, one program or one person. In this case though, the donors knew they wanted to focus on supportive housing, but they were not sure about how to make an impact.
After a few discussions with The KWCF staff, it was agreed that The Foundation would reach out to the community and inquire about options that would impact supportive housing. The House of Friendship was one of the organizations that stepped up. When The KWCF shared the donor's desire for impact, the House of Friendship's Executive Director, John Neufeld, sought out the advice of his front line staff. After all, who better to identify an area of need?
The House of Friendship's front line staff knew about an area of priority identified by the Region of Waterloo year ago—an area that went unaddressed because of a lack of funding. The men, like Gary, who returned from addiction treatment, were left to integrate back into the community with little support. They often had no connections to family or friends, no positive social network, and had trouble finding full-time employment. In many cases, this led them back to their former lifestyle. The challenge was finding a way to support them during this transition period.
Around the same time, the House of Friendship was approached by Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church. The Church had some vacant property that they wanted to put to good use. The idea of a dry house was conceived, and support for men in need became a possibility.
The concept of a dry house was brought forward to The KWCF for the donors' consideration. It would be a place for at-risk men to start new without all of the pressures of integrating back into the community. They would not only pay rent and take part in a clean and active household, but they would also build lasting relationships, and support one another in an environment free from the temptations of drugs and alcohol.
The donors reviewed the proposal and quickly realized that this is what they wanted to support. They allowed the House of Friendship the time and flexibility to plan appropriately, and it made all of the difference. The staff was re-energized, and they developed a creative solution to a complex issue.
What does this mean for Gary? The dry house is an opportunity to get past his worries and to start thinking of others. Gary knows that he is not alone, and he has shown that, given the opportunity, a disconnected man can become whole again as a productive member of our community—a community where he feels like he belongs, and where he can use his unique abilities to make a difference.