I wish to thank everyone for being here today to celebrate our 21st. Birthday
of the Victoria Human Exchange Society (VHES). And I would like to give you a quote that VHES exemplifies:

“There is tremendous happiness in helping others, despite our own
situations. Sharing the hardships & grief is half the sorrow; but, happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, help others; and, count all the things you have that money can’t buy.”

Since 1992, the VHES has been constant in their aim to assist as many men and women as possible re-start their lives on a more stable and positive note.To this end, we have been successful; and, with our dedicated volunteers and donors…we are hoping to be able to assist many, many more homeless, low income, survivors of substance abuse, physical abuse; or, any person that has a need for a safe, stable home while they are struggling to overcome life’s difficulties. In this day and age, anyone could become homeless overnight thru illness, loss of employment, loss of home, recovering from wrong choices; but, life does go on; and, if the comfortably well off were to help the people in need……life will still go on; but, on a much better note.

We have had many a trial and tribulation in this last year; but, thru it all…the VHES has managed to house innumerable men and women; and, help them get the resources to carry on…knowing that they can! Not something attainable while living in a tent, on a park bench, in a car; or, under a bridge.

The economy being so weak has meant donations are not as plentiful as in the past and government funding goes to permanent housing—very difficult to get funds for transitional type housing such as ours. It takes $20,000. a month to keep the Houses going; $12,000 for rents alone.

Our SSI Branch now has one less house..The community couldn’t seem able to find the resources to keep Nancy Wigen House operating. But so grateful to the SSI Foundation, The Anglican church and all other supporters for assisting us to make it a special place for 16 years. Those who actually readied the House for the Owner to take over were Teresa Forbes, Russell Hardy, Neddy Harris of the Land Bank and Jordan Lessick and Mo from Grandma’s House.

Successes include the Victoria Houses, 2 for men and 1 for women which are always full with a waiting list.

The Sidney Houses are also doing well; only draw back being that they have room for only 4 persons in each—so we never make ends meet financially in those houses. Holy Trinity church still gives regular support thanks to Thea Dixon and the Rigby’s bring the help of St Elizabeth’s church and St Vincent de Paul Society. As always, the Knights of Columbus give annually to keep these houses open.

The Nanaimo Branch – Esther’s House is thriving but the Committee is having difficulty finding enough volunteers. In time, they want to find a suitable, manageable second house, also for men as women are well looked after in that area. Sr Frieda and the Sisters of St Ann have donated a truck load of furniture for that second house when it happens. We had hoped to honour Sr Frieda by naming this house after her..but she prefers not to have that kind of notice. Therefore, we are hoping to honour Mary Gordon of loving memory, who was an Associate of the Sisters of St Ann and of course a founding member of the Human Exchange The second anniversary of Mary’s death was June 4th..maybe the house will be set up by her next Anniversary in 2014.

We remember with love and gratitude, Jeanette Hughes, who died recently after battling MS for years. She served as a Town Councillor and obtained for us the Town of Sidney Grant in Aid. She also made sure when she retired that other Councillors would take up the cause.

Grandma’s House on SSI continues to do well with Jordan Lessick now facilitating from a cabin he is renting. Thanks to the Land Bank and Neddy Harris for the manageable House.

We are so grateful to those who always include our Society in their Charitable giving—many through Canada Helps, especially Susan Doyle and her family; some through pay package donations (Naden Miltary Band and Provincial Employees Community Services Fund); The Knights of Columbus—special thanks to Paul and Eileen Redchurch; The Sisters of St Ann, and the Friends of St Ann’s Academy; the Unitarian Church; Holy Trinity Sidney; St Dunstan’s and the United Church in Gordon Head and many others that you will see in the Contributors list. Thrifty Smile Cards program supplies regular funding. And in the Gulf Islands, the Salt Spring Foundation, Anglican churches and other churches, agencies and individuals. Nanaimo Branch has regular donors, listed in this booklet.

One of our special volunteers, Sue Bishop, was able to get the long desired storage for us at Hendra Moving and Storage, plus a truck and movers on occasion.

Another person who we remember with love is James Orschy – Stonechild, he did maintenance work and raised money at the first Apple Seed House in 1992. He moved to Sooke near Rev Al and also became a volunteer at Our Place. May he rest in peace.

Our Web-site features include a newly designed word press format which enables us to take charge of content and add news. Thanks to Monica our Webmaster.

Facebook has been another chance for us to communicate positively with others who share our passion for housing the homeless.

Thanks to all our many volunteers, especially Facilitators and Board Members. Wes thanks for all the food donated by Cobs , Safeway, and Country Grocer and great 21st Birthday cake from Thrifty Foods Broadmead. Jo-Anne for faithfully doing the Minutes and researching matters of importance; Jill for all the thorough book-keeping and paying of our bills.

Thanks to our Accounting technician, Lina Beaudet, for keeping us honest and advising us on legal matters and applying each year for the Direct Access Grant.

Sadly Stephen Glanville has had serious health problems in recent months –thanks Stephen for all you do, from that time in the Garden when you dreamed up our grass-roots society and the the sharing of life’s gifts became the sign of our family of friends.

Finally, warm thanks to the Chown Place Fellowship and the Board of Directors for allowing us to hold our 21st Birthday in this lovely hall. And to each of the Board members here for all your generous fundraising support offered to people who are homeless.

Linda Mayo, Chairperson, VHES

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