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Close to Home Capital Campaign Launched at AGM

Posted in: News

Greg, JP, Steve and Damien were honoured with the Buhr Legacy of Friendship, presented at the 2017 AGM by Martin Buhr.

House of Friendship has launched Close to Home, a $3 -million capital campaign to transform the way addition treatment is delivered in Waterloo Region.

The launch came at House of Friendship’s 78th Annual General Meeting, held at the Tannery Event Centre in downtown Kitchener on June 21, 2017.

After sharing a video that told the story of Damien, one of the men who has benefitted from House of Friendship’s current men’s residential addiction treatment program, Executive Director John Neufeld outlined the need for improved addiction treatment programming in Waterloo Region, highlighting the ongoing opioid crisis in our community.

“The headlines of this past year make it no surprise that today we face a critical point in the need for addiction treatment services,” said Neufeld. “The opioid crisis accounts for one person dying every 13 hours from an overdose. So how do we respond?”

Neufeld noted that the current facility, at 174 King Street North in Waterloo, is located in the heart of university student housing, and is in an aging, deteriorating farmhouse. There is limited outdoor space and privacy for men in treatment, and the building is not accessible.

“If this were a treatment centre for any other health issue in our community, we would be aghast,” said Neufeld. “But for some reason, it’s okay, because it is for addictions. We don’t think that should be the case.”

House of Friendship has purchased the former Haven House, located at 562 Concession Road in Cambridge, to improve the services it provides in addiction treatment programming.

The new facility will provide four times more indoor space, and 10 times the outdoor space than the current home in Waterloo, and will allow House of Friendship the opportunity to serve individuals who might not otherwise be able to access the service, due to accessibility issues. The new facility will also afford more privacy and dignity to those served by House of Friendship.

Fundraising for Close to Home is already underway, noted Neufeld, with $2-million already raised through a combination of donations, pledges and the planned sale of

the current property in Waterloo.

“But we still have a million to go — and we need your help,” said Neufeld.

Also in line with the Close to Home theme, this year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship was focused on honouring men and women who “courageously walk the road of recovery from addiction.”

House of Friendship Board President Mary Friesen presented the recognition to Steve, Damien, Greg and JP, who stood in as representatives for all men and women in recovery from addiction.

“It is a difficulty journey, a journey for the brave,” said Friesen. “Persevering through stigma, trauma and pain, individuals in recovery can go on to lead healthier and more productive lives, as vital contributors to a healthy community where all can Belong and Thrive.”

Damien, Greg and JP have all graciously shared their own stories of their battle with addiction, in aid of the Close to Home campaign.

To find out more about Close to Home, and to hear the stories of Damien, Greg and JP, visit

Approximately 200 House of Friendship supporters were in attendance at the AGM, which had “The Art of Innovation” as its theme. In addition to the launch of the Close to Home campaign, the evening featured the art of street photographer Al Doerksen, and an inspiring message about health-care innovation from Elliot Fung, the Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at the Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network.

The AGM also included election of its incoming board of directors, approval of the annual budget and audited financial statements for 2016. Attendees also received a copy of this year’s Annual (Community) Report. The evening ended with a strawberry social, with strawberries provided by Herrle’s Country Market.