Sad news

The VHES has served homeless people since 1992. But recently funds have not been sufficient to keep the 6 houses going. Therefore other groups have taken over the Houses or they have been sold. The Umbrella Society has taken over one House in Victoria and one in Sidney and the Saltspring Land Bank Society has taken responsibility for Grandmas House on SSI.

For further info please phone Brian at 778-533-0788 or Bob at 778-533-0492

Thank you all for your support over nearly a quarter of a century of serving the homeless. This Web-site will stay up until February 2018.

Resignation and memories…

Dear Members of the VHES Board of Directors,

After a quarter of a century I need to resign from the Society as it has become too stressful to cope, together with bringing up the 2 teenage grandchildren who I took into my home in 2005.

Before my husband died in 2003, I used to visit the different houses and support the Facilitators. Charlie Pyott House, being set up with a government grant in 2001, required an enormous lot of paperwork. I lived in the small room near the bathroom upstairs while we were furnishing the house, going home week-ends to my supportive  husband on Mayne Island.

The Government rep in charge of the project (Supporting Community Partnership Initiative–SCPI) would fly over from Vancouver and meet with us in a Victoria office where we had to supply all the paperwork in triplicate. So that’s how the House began which is now becoming a women’s House.

Patti and Brian know all the tasks that others will need to do now I will not be around.

I wish you every success raising funds and taking the Society into the future,

With respect,

Patricia Fitzgerald

Thanks from Grandmas House on SSI

Thanks for everything at the house! It’s been a great blessing to be here since the end of November. Until then, I’d been living in a tent and was seriously considering insulating it since it was extremely cold, wet, and I couldn’t find housing otherwise. So glad I met Jordan and he got me in here. Just having access to the basics like laundry, a shower, and cooking facilities (a fridge!!) was like winning the lottery at the time. It’s been 6 months now and because of the stability here I”ve been able to keep a great job at Country Grocer. And having sold all my possessions over several months just to survive in Vancouver (after the business I worked for folded a year ago), I can finally say I’m rebuilding my life again. The house is great and the guys are great. I wouldn’t have thought that 5 guys who didn’t know each other beforehand and each have different struggles could get along so well, but we do….it’s a very supportive environment.
So thanks again, and thanks for the opportunity to give something back by helping facilitate things here.

Annual General Meeting is Sat. May 28th at noon

Only a week until we see each other at our Annual General Meeting at Chown Place Hall, 3060 Harriet Rd..if possible please bring some finger food and  a small unwrapped  gift for the gift table.

Park on the road please. Or take bus along Harriet Rd to Chown Place lane

See you all there!

Generous donations received!

In answer to an appeal for funds, we have received generous donations from St Patrick’s school, through Outreach Co-ordinator, Janette Redchurch, who sent the proceeds from a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Breakfast at the school.
We are grateful to the students and teachers and also the Knights of Columbus who donated the ingredients and served the pancakes.

Other financial gifts were received from Paul Redchurch, Catherine Chisholm, Gail Muzio, Francois Brassard, Lucille Bisson, Bernadette Lister and Sheila Connelly.

Sincere thanks to all these sharers of life’s gifts. We hope to see you at our 24th Birthday Celebration/AGM on Saturday May 28th – 12.00pm – 2.00pm at Chown Place Hall, 3060 Harriet Rd Victoria.

A very grateful person..

“My name is Genevieve P. and I would like to express my gratitude to VHES. I was a mess and drug addict for 25 years, in jail then living on the streets for 4 years. I first came into the house 3 years ago. I had just got out of jail and shortly thereafter broke my hip/leg…and was hospitalized for about a month and the social worker found VHES.

Without them I was not able to afford to live in a clean, safe, and sober environment without prejudice. Chances are I would be in shelters and unsafe environments. I wish we could help more women than this .God knows the need is there, but unfortunately Victoria lacks clean, safe and affordable housing.

I stayed for 9 months and was able to move into a home to help a paraplegic gentleman who I cooked, cleaned and kept company until he became very ill and was hospitalized. I was informed he would not be coming back home and therefore I must move on. Again I was lost and scared and facing being homeless once again. Realizing it can happen that fast to almost any one..

I contacted Erin at VHES in Sidney and was fortunate there was a vacancy and she took me in again. I was so happy to move back in and it felt like I was coming home. I felt safe and peaceful…I am so grateful to have had the chance to be in a clean and sober environment with the stability and safety that I needed so much. For me it was the first time in a long time that I actually got my strength back, cleaned up myself. No more drugs, no more criminal activities and for the first time in years was off probation and out of the court system.

I don’t know where I would be at today if it wasn’t for the helping hand from the Society and I am forever grateful for that, and would like to give back to the Society in whatever way I can. I have attended a few courses through Beacon Community and now have certificates in WHMIS, Food safe, and how to use the squirrel which has taken the place of cash registers that they no longer use.

My heartfelt thank you to all those at VHES who gave me a chance to better my life and I am able to appreciate what life has to offer. I am forever grateful.
Thank you. Gen P

New letters of support

From Scott who is leaving our Sidney House for men:

“I recently had the privilege of being accepted into the transitional housing program.
This opportunity came at a time when I was struggling with mental illness and recovering from a relapse with my addiction issues.

The move to this temporary home with the fellowship & support it offered was a key part in my taking control of my life back & finding my way out of a dark place. From the moment that I arrived I was made to feel welcome by the house liaison as well as the other household members. It was but a short time before I felt like I was ready to try again; I believe that this was due to the safety & the sobriety that this house offered as well as the non-judgemental way in which I was treated.

All my thanks to everyone involved as I move back into life on life’s terms. Could not have done it without you!!                  Scott M.


As the facilitator of Judy Thomas House in Sidney, I would like to thank the society for where I am today. Arriving as a tenant 4 yrs ago, I was homeless, lost and struggling with addiction. I was given the chance to become close to my family again and seek out a normal and happy life that I did not have before.

Being able to become close to many of the women who have been through our house has been a great inspiration to myself and those close to me. Knowing where a lot of the ladies are coming from and the fears and struggles that they have had to deal with along the way, makes a relationship of trust and understanding an easier one for everyone.

Being given the opportunity to do this has given me more strength and encouragement than I would have received anywhere else in the time I have been here. I have had the opportunity to meet many great people who have helped through donations of items to those in need, or their time to lend a helping hand, or just a listening ear.

Knowing that there are still people out there willing to help others in need is a great feeling and being part of a society so willing to help change lives for the better is a great gift. This is a gift I have been given from the Victoria Human Exchange Society xoxoxo

 Many  thanks, Erin B

September Report from Nanaimo Branch

As always things have been very hectic here in Nanaimo. With the closing of Esther’s house, preparing the house to return it to the landlord. We were very generous in leaving all the window coverings as they were custom made for the house. We also left a lot of Craig’s tomato plants as it was to difficult to move them without damage.

It took 4 days to remove all outdoor stuff that needed to go to the dump, empty the house and scrub it top to bottom including the walls.

When the landlord came to take possession he pointed out that there were a few issues. I reminded him that the repairs made by his handyman were the reason the house had a perfectly square hole in the wall on the stairs and a mouldy front of the upstairs shower. I also made a point of pointing out some pretty serious issues in the house so he is aware that even though it is resented, these issues still need to be addressed. When I asked for our security deposit to be returned he started coming up with excuses, I explained that his property was in much better condition than we we took possession, with the furnace the sump pump and the curtains. He finally emailed the $600. To me without any further discussion.

Now all of the men are residing at Mary Gordon. At the time of the move we had 4 men living at Esther’s House. One moved out on his own, one went into assisted living and 2 went to Mary Gordon. Craig the facilitator of Esther’s house is now facilitator at Mar Gordon. The month before the move, our facilitator at Mary Gordon, Dave, relapsed. He is working hard to get his 90 days so he can come back. He knows he cannot return as facilitator.

I am still working very hard trying to get my home ready for sale, Debi is still not well enough to do physical work, Mark is working 2 jobs, Bonnie is working 3 jobs at the moments so now is just not a good time to try to find a second house. I am also trying to get ready for my trip in early October for 10 days.

So that’s where we are at, I am hoping to find time to get out a purchase things for house meals together since we have been to busy to do that either.

The one issue we had is 2 of our cable boxes were taken for Mary Gordon. These cost $150. Each to replace, and can be purchased refurbished for $50. At London drugs. Has this issue come up in Victoria in the past?

Well that’s about it for here. Hope things

Latest Report from Nanaimo Branch–A new house must be found

It is with great sadness that we must close Esther’s House. Our lease has
expired and the landlord had indicated he wants to sell. He then started
showing the house to prospective renters asking $1800. per month, and it
appears he will be renting again 1 room at a time. It will be sad if the house
reverts back to the drug house it once was.

We have not yet been able to find another house that will meet our needs.
Since there are only 4 men currently living at Esther’s House and only 3 of
them will require housing, there are 3 rooms at Mary Gordon. So the plan is
to move them all to Mary Gordon and fill that house. We plan to move them
over this month to allow us time to clean and prepare the house for return
to Michael. The 4th tenant at Esther’s requires a different living
environment due to his limitations. I am working with him to find someplace
for him to go. He is aware of time lines.

I’m afraid that David, our facilitator at Mary Gordon relapsed at 18 months
sobriety, so he will no longer be the facilitator, Craig will take over that
position once he moves over. Due to David’s medical issues and the
conflicting information he is receiving from his doctor and psychiatrist, we
chose to allow David to remain in the house at this time, should there be
any further issues he will have to go. His doctor was telling him he needed
to get back into the work force, and his psychiatrist saying he is not ready.
David has gotten many jobs over the past year, but has had to quit them all
due to his inability to cope.

I will be contacting Hydro, Fortis & Telus to have accounts terminated by
months end. I will also be contacting the city and the RCMP to advise we
will no longer be in control of that house. So if problems begin they will
know where to look.

Mark and Debi have completed their move. Debi hurt her back in the
process. They are still unpacking and getting settled in. That is why I am
doing the books this month. Bonnie S is working 2 jobs, so doesn’t reallyhave any extra time. Bonnie C just got married and due to her vision,  is limited in her abilities. I am still working on my house, was hoping to have it ready to list August 1st but still lots to do.  Colin has been working long hours repairing the deck, it turned out to be a much bigger project than he anticipated. I continue to paint the outside of the house a little at a time, and do a little packing in between. Also lots of doctor appointments to get my papers in order for long term disability.

We have had several men looking for housing but due to the upcoming loss
we won’t be able to help them at this time. With all of us being so stretched
maybe this is a blessing in disguise. What ever it is we will roll with it for the
time being and see where it goes. So that’s us for now

Oh one other thing, please in the future only give out my cell
number, not my home. Cell is 250-668-4676. That’s all folks!

Debbie Scott.

23rd Birthday/AGM report

An account of the recent very enjoyable Gathering can be found on the EVENTS page including the names of 2015-’16 Directors .

Jo-Anne Layton gave a thorough account of the Sooke entertainers.