Notice from Canada Post re changes in our mailing address

Just got a notice from Canada Post– From now on, mail to us should read:
VHES
709 Yates St
Box 8534, Victoria Main Post Office
Victoria B.C.
V8W 3S1
Please tell everyone, especially Ministry Workers who send rent cheques. 
Facilitators please change the Intent to Occupy Forms or ask me to send you revised forms.
Patricia
250-920-5056

Valetine’s Day 1992 was the birth of the Human Exchange

 

Go to facebook to see photos of the Fernwood Community Garden with Stephen Glanville’s bus.  Stephen called a meeting of people from the street, the neighborhood, businesses and agencies in order to discuss the problem of homelessness.  It was a sad time as Larry Baker had become the latest casualty of homelessness….

https://www.facebook.com/158522374195943/photos/pcb.781431198571721/781429765238531/?type=1&theater

Testimonials to worth of our Houses

Thank you VHES for the opportunity to find hope again.  Without the availability of the resources provided through VHES life would continue to be a struggle.  Since moving in I have been able to clear my body of substances which negatively impacted my life.  I have also been able to progress to the point of enrolling/registering as a student at Camosun College, classes begin January 6th!  A renewed sense of worth and value has replaced the seething wax twine ball of confused emotion that once was.  Again, I thank you.

Thank You!
Lee.

________________________________________________________

my name is Richard and I am the “new” tenant at Frances Thibeau house here in Sidney. .

I just wanted to thank you all so very much for the opportunity to stay here and help me to transition into society once again. Over the past years I have been through a serious depression which culminated into checking myself into the hospital earlier this year. Knowing only too well how depression can  turn into addiction,  I have found a lot of help and the most gracious of aid to me was being able to move to Sidney and live in this house.   I had been living in the salvation army for the past 6 years , working fulltime and paying my own way, surrounded by drugs, booze, thievery , fights, and almost any kind of trouble you can imagine. .To leave that behind has been one of the most healing things that has happened to me in years. The tranquility of this community and the peace I find within this house has been miraculous in my mind.

I just wanted to let you know what a change you are making in my life, even the civility of people on the street, and the good cheer, I had forgotten what that felt like. So with sincere  appreciation for this opportunity… I wish you and all in VHES–

happy holidays and a wonderful new year

                                             richard

_________________________________________________________

My name is Brian Smith and I facilitate one of the houses in Victoria for the Human Exchange Society.

Words cannot truly describe how many men owe their lives to these houses! They offer someone who has had struggles of many varieties including addiction, institutions and mental health issues to have a safe place to call home while they regain control of their lives.

Without these houses and the amazing board members a lot of really good people would probably lose hope, so whatever you can give to VHES to help with their amazing work would be truly appreciated.

Sincerely,

B. Smith

722 Pine St

briansmith10@live.ca

________________________________________________________________________

It is with heartfelt appreciation to the Victoria Human Exchange Society for accepting me here in my greatest time of need. Coming from an abusive relationship of many years to the peace and safety of a VHES House has left me ever more grateful than words can express.

 

    With severe arthritis in one hip, I arrived and was very fearful of what life had left to offer me. Within a couple of months from my arrival I was diagnosed with medical issues that landed me in RJH only to realize that I have severe heart issues and over a series of doctor visits and tests have determined this is an ongoing issue I have no control over.  It is very frightening and the other women in the house have been kind and helpful as I try to do my best to help out where I can, feeling very frail for a better part of the time.

 

I am in the process of getting disability assistance but suffer also from social anxiety which makes it difficult some days to deal with the things in life that others find the norm.

 

       Had it not been for VHES I don’t think I would be around today as I was looking at living in my car at 60 years old before finding a warm bed, warm hearts and patience while finding my way back to some form of health and happiness. I have been able to connect with my son recently , and for that am ever grateful.

 

 L M.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 


Story of the Human Exchange Society – a look back..

Twenty-three years ago, a homeless man by the name of Larry Baker died under the Johnson Street Bridge. In a gathering following this tragedy on Valentine’s Day, 1992, a service was held in Larry’s memory—and the seeds for an idea were sown…the idea put forward by Stephen Glanville, first Chair of the Society, was that if people of different circumstances of life would share life’s gifts, then the world would be a more compassionate place and the gap between rich and poor would close.

This idea became the Victoria Human Exchange Society, a registered charity run completely by volunteers (including those who are homeless or unemployed themselves) working not just to tackle the issue of homelessness, but to eliminate the loneliness, isolation, and sense of hopelessness that comes along in such a time of crisis and vulnerability.

The idea was a partnershipa network of support and sharing between those that need help, and those who wish to support them:

“What was heard from the people who were Larry’s friends was that when one is homeless, one loses one’s individual identity; one is labeled and segregated from the rest of the human race. Gifts are lost; people are depressed and turn to drugs and alcohol for consolation and to drown their hopelessness and helplessness. The request was that someone start treating people who are homeless as human beings with personal identity and gifts to share.”

                                                                                    – VHES History of the Society

Now in its twenty-second year, the society has proven time and again that it is one of the most effective and lowest-cost solutions to the homeless problem, having assisted hundreds of people in need—it is facing desperate times itself. As a completely charitable organization run by volunteers, the funding battle begins year after year, and the society’s goal is threatened by a lack of the support it relies on:  the sharing and exchange of gifts.

The name of the society comes from the writing of Thomas Merton: “Every meeting of persons is an exchange of life’s gifts.”  This sense of exchange is the key to the society’s goals: the sharing of  gifts, and the acknowledgment that people undergoing hard times are still worthy of unconditional respect, and have within themselves the ability to work through their problems, grow, and change if they are supported by a family of friends.

“It is the absence of human contact that is often the deepest pain felt by homeless people. They can go for days with no one speaking to them, much less ask the simplest of questions, “How are you?” We fear the answers . . . because we might have to act on them.”

                             – Sister Maureen, in an article by Colman McCarthy

The society believes that when people find themselves in a crisis such as having lost a job, a home, a family, or are trying to recover from addiction or illness, what they need more than intervention is a family of friends: people who will listen, support, assist, and understand.

And so, the society has set out to:

• provide and support shelters and family-type emergency housing;

• provide advocacy and support to low-income persons who are working to solve

their own legal, health, educational, employment and social problems;

            • include impoverished persons in the decision-making capacity of the

Society, and  to support initiatives which they themselves identify, thus enabling the

growth of self-esteem and self-direction.

To this end, the society rents houses from sympathetic landlords to provide short-term accommodation for those in crisis. It currently operates seven houses: two  in Victoria, two in Sidney, one on Salt Spring Island, and one in Nanaimo—all named after people who have contributed to the success of the movement over its twenty-year history.

Rather than administer or control the houses, the society “facilitates a dignified and ordered living environment.” These safe houses are free of drugs and drinking—everyone in the houses must be clean—and form a network where those in need can find a roof over their head as they move toward obtaining permanent housing. They also provide a sense of companionship, understanding, and trust, the acknowledgement that they are not alone in their plight, and there are others both in their position and outside of it hoping that they will succeed.

            And, it is clear they have. Over these twenty-one years, VHES has helped provide a stable, caring environment where hundreds of people besieged by homelessness, illness, and addiction have been able to overcome their issues and move on:

“In my time of greatest need, this society came to my rescue. My life has improved dramatically as a result of the continuing efforts of Jordan Lessick, the Society’s Facilitator here on Saltspring Island. I am working again and free from the problems which so plagued me, thanks to her.”

– Gordan C., former resident

“A NEW START is what the Victoria Human Exchange Society has provided for me—a safe place to live and an opportunity to get some help . . . But most of all the VHES has given me the chance to be there for others who are struggling with life.”

– Derrick N., former resident

 

“I would just like to sincerely thank the  Human Exchange Society for providing a positive atmosphere for me to continue my life. Thank you.”

– Paul W., former resident

 

VHES, working together with other groups in Victoria, has  identified and compassionately addressed the human needs of the homeless: listening to their stories, following their suggestions, and supporting their own efforts to get back on their feet—and it is through the compassion of others and the willingness to give and receive that they have been able to do so.

            For further information on the Victoria Human Exchange Society, their website (http://www.humanx.org/) contains their mission statement, as well as archived newsletters released every three months that detail the lives and progress of people living in each of the homes, such as that from Richard:

My name is Richard and I am living at Frances Thibeau house here in Sidney.

I just wanted to thank you all so very much for the opportunity to stay here and help me to transition into society once again. Over the past years I have been through a serious depression which culminated into checking myself into the hospital earlier this year. Knowing only too well how depression can  turn into addiction,  I have found a lot of help and the most gracious of aids to me was being able to move to Sidney and live in this house. I had been living in the salvation army for the past 6 years , working fulltime and paying my own way, surrounded by drugs, booze, thievery , fights, and almost any kind of trouble you can imagine. .To leave that behind has been one of the most healing things that has happened to me in years. The tranquility of this community and the peace I find within this house has been miraculous in my mind.

I just wanted to let you know what a change you are making in my life, even the civility of people on the street, and the good cheer, I had forgotten what that felt like. So with sincere  appreciation for this opportunity… I wish you and all in VHES–

happy holidays and a wonderful new year

                                             Richard

            The VHES also has a Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Human-Exchange-Society/158522374195943?ref=hl

 

Contributions, donations, and volunteers are always welcome—and, indeed, are the key to the society’s continuing success.

 

As our first occupant Art Rosette hoped: may the spirit of the Human Exchange spread throughout the world so that no-one is left with only a tree under a bridge.”

Contact number:

250-920-5056

Mailing Address:

VHES

Box 8534,

Victoria BC,

V8W 3S1

VHES Christmas Party -Sat, Nov. 29th

Remember to come and celebrate Christmas with all of us at

Chown Place Hall, 3060 Harriet Rd Victoria (near Gorge Rd)

on Sat. November 29th at 1.00pm.

Lots of tasty finger food, gifts for all and music.

Share your musical and artistic talents.

St Dunstan’s Parish shares gifts at Thanksgiving

Today, a representative of the parish of St Dunstan’s, Gordon Head called to say that the parish members had contributed many items at Thanksgiving which they wanted to give to the men in our two  Victoria Houses. The collection included food supplies, household cleaners and other useful goods, clothing, and toiletries.

They phoned Brian and arranged for the delivery. Very generous parishioners who give to many charities. Thank you for gifting our grateful occupants.
http://saintdunstans.ca/location/saint-dunstans-anglican-church/

Important update of contact info for VHES

We no longer use a second cell phone; Victoria free net no longer provides email service; and Telus is ending pagers, so please note the following address and contact info.

Victoria Human Exchange Society
Box 8534 Victoria BC
V8W 3S1
Tel: 250-920-5056
Fax: 250-539-5310 on demand
Sidney Womens’ House: Erin: 250-656-6242
Sidney Mens’ house: David: 250-656-0958
Victoria Men’s Houses: Steve: 250-380-9344
Brian: 778-533-0788
Salt Spring Branch:Grandma’s House- men: Jordan: 250-538-8345
Nanaimo Branch: Cell: 250-668-6008
(2 men’s houses)

Email: grandmas@saltspring.com;
Web: www.humanx.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Human-Exchange-Society/158522374195943?ref=hl

Visit our VHES Facebook Page

Remember to visit our Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Human-Exchange-Society/158522374195943?ref=hl

And please  register ‘Likes’ and share Posts that you like with others. We thank all those who support our facebook page and our Society’s important work of providing transitional type housing to men and women who would otherwise have only a bench, a doorway, a vehicle or a shelter bed for the night.

We provide the dignity of a locked room, shared laundry and kitchen facilities, internet and phone (free LD in Nrth America) to those who are clean and sober and able to live peacefully with others while solving whatever challenges face them.
Contact 250-920-5056 or page: 1-800-691-9366 anywhere in Nrth America.

 

 

Esthers Dream Foundation Mini Grant received

June 27th 2014:
Very good news in the mail today. The promised Esther’s Dream Mini Grant has arrived and been deposited. .now we can pay some of the very large utility bills that we could not cope with previously.
However, $10,000. does not last long so we  need to keep fundraising and asking individuals and agencies to remember the men and women in our 7 houses who are trying to move on in their lives, by finding employment and permanent Housing and dealing positively with disabilities..
Dear Sr. Marguerite,
Our joy and gratitude are immense today since we are in receipt of the Esther’s Dream Mini grant of $10,000. which will enable us to pay bills otherwise too large for our resources.
The men and women residing in our houses are very grateful to the Foundation and to all the Sisters of St Ann for their loving care. As you instruct, we wil send a final report when the funds are spent including copies of receipts for expenses associated with the grant.
Thank you for your prayers and blessings.
Sincerely,
Patricia M.Fitzgerald
Chairperson

Cancelling of one Society phone

Since Linda’s retirement, we do not find a need to keep the 857 cell phone which she used so constantly. Everyone has his or her own phones.  So the decision has been made to retire the 857 phone used by the hard-working Chair/Facilitator.  It will take a while to retire it from our brochures and it does appear in our current newsletter.

However, we will gradually make it know that our contact numbers are:

Cell:  250-920-5056

pagers: 250-361-2762   LD: 1-800-691-9366

and each facilitator has a house phone and/or a cell.  Please ask if you need to contact a particular house and the number will be given to you.