Testimonials from people living in our transitional type housing:

“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”


The most recent person to be referred to our men’s house in Sidney previously lived in a shack with no bathroom — just an outhouse & he had to shower once a week at Panorama Recreation Centre. So at Frances Thibeau House he’s very happy to have all the conveniences including his own locked room, laundry, TV and internet…. especially considering he has upcoming surgery and will be convalescing .

So, as I’ve mentioned to him, we all have a great deal to be grateful for with thanks to the Society.
David S, facilitator.


I found myself in a very vulnerable position, at a low point in my life if you will. I was in hospital with a broken leg/hip. I was also homeless and to top it off, struggling with a drug addiction. The Social Worker at the hospital worked very hard to find housing for me as I could not be discharged until I had somewhere to go. With the amount I receive on welfare for shelter. ($375.) it made things even more difficult.

But fortunately she came across the VHES. I was interviewed over the telephone and without problems they took me in. I am so grateful for the Society. Not only are they providing me with decent, clean ‘homie’, affordable housing, I now have a sense of security knowing where I am sleeping tonight. Also this is a sober environment and for me it is the first time in 25 years that I have been able to live my life, day to day, clean and sober.

The volunteers are always there for me to lean on when I need to talk, when I am having a bad day, or just need to vent.. I am so very grateful that VHES is here to help people like myself. I cannot express in words how so incredibly thankful and grateful I feel to have been given this chance to change and help myself to secure a better future for myself.


To everyone in the Human Exchange Society (VHES) I thank you very much for giving me a life free of drugs and alcohol. By having a home to share with others of similar backgrounds, I am able to function day to day in the manner expected of all of us. I am making steps every day to better my life, and for the one I love. Thank you and God Bless.



I would like to thank the Victoria Human Exchange Society for giving me a secure place to live while I deal with some serious health problems -C.O.P.D.-and lung disease. Your kindness will never be forgotten; I mention you all in my daily prayers.


Thank you for the opportunity to stay at a Human Exchange house. It’s nice to have a clean, safe place to live while I regroup and re focus my life and my future. Your handwork and kindness will never be forgotten. Thank you for the ‘hand up’ not the ‘hand out’.



Hello, my name is Steve F. and I want you to understand how much VHES has helped me get a new lease on life.

I am a recovering addict- my choice of drugs was crack cocaine and heroin. These drugs had taken over my life for 25 years. I had a very close call from an overdose and I am lucky to be sitting here writing this letter. That was the end of the line for me as I had hit rock bottom.
I went to Maple Ridge Treatment Centre for 67 days and when I was released all I had was the room I rented with my crack-addicted landlord. That’s when I found out about VHES. I talked to the Facilitator of a VHES men’s house in Victoria and he gave me my chance to rent a room. I came to the house and was welcomed with open arms and never felt like I was judged or discriminated against-which happens a the norm in the so-called regular life. I went to meetings with the encouragement of the Society. I started to learn how to budget and grew up a lot.

Well now I am the facilitator for this Charlie Pyott House and I am fast approaching 2 years of being clean and sober. I believe there are other houses-male and female. The Owners of these houses rent them to the Society often at a cost that is often below their mortgages. For that I know the Society is very grateful. The Society rents rooms in the houses at a fairly low cost that doesn’t leave enough to pay all the bills.

A lot of the houses would like to have gardens like the big one in our back yard. We grew a lot of vegetables and we are enjoying them. Also it saves us a bit of money.

Our little Society is growing but the bills are also growing and we don’t want to close a house for lack of funding. The VHES would benefit from some funding with the rising cost of living and for the benefit of people with mental health and addiction issues.. So please take the time to really consider helping! Thank you,

Steve F.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate living in a VHES house. I know that living here would not be possible without the huge amount of work that all the volunteers do behind the scenes, especially getting financial support for the Society and that without this hard work our accommodations and possibility of recovery would not be possible. I find it difficult to think about what would have happened to me if I didn’t have this support and the camaraderie of the other occupants of this house.
Thanks again,

David – one grateful occupant.

As a person who just happened to ‘fall on hard times’–in my case, lacking work, (which has always completed me as a whole human being), I found myself in need of a space to rent at this Victoria Human Exchange house.

It is very safe and quiet and respectful home to rest and search for employment. The Facilitator is so compassionate in my struggle. She has made me feel great hope in my personal search and life. I am very thankful for this.



My name is Julian B and I live in the Fr. Michael J. McGivney house in Victoria – a VHES house funded originally by the Knights of Columbus. I have been living at the house for over a year now. I was homeless and had a bit of a drinking issue. I have been sober for over16 months now. The house and it’s mandate have been a great blessing for me. I am now working full time and have a great future due to the tireless efforts of the Society members. I cannot adequately express my thankfulness for their efforts.

I have seen the positive changes in other residents’ lives and yes sometimes some of them fall back into their old ways and but that is life. And I know that without the Human Exchange, myself and others would really be in trouble. The difference it has made in my life and others is immeasurable. I hope that those who are thinking of helping the Society will follow through and send donations. It will return you blessings 10 fold. Thank you!



I am a 43 year old male who approximately 4 months ago was welcomed into one of the houses run by the Victoria Human Exchange Society.
To tell you a little about my past: I’m an ex-con; a recovering addict; a parent of three; college educated; on Disability. I attend a recovery based meeting at least 3 or 4 times a week and have completely changed over my list of friends and associates in the past 2-3 years in an attempt
to better my life for not only myself but also for my loved ones as well.
What brought me into contact with the VHES was that I was having problems where I was living. My roommate was still in active addiction and I felt I wasn’t strong enough to be subjected to drug use going on around me. So rather than give in, I spoke to a friend who was involved with VHES. I enquired as to if there was any room available.

Since my arrival into one of their houses, I have been treated with the utmost respect and decency. Never once have I had any type of problem. I feel I am treated as an equal; my opinion matters, all around it has been an enjoyable experience. I’ve managed to make new friendships; learn more about available resources that I may qualify for.

I’m sure it was during my first month here that the VHES was having a celebration for the 20th Anniversary of the organization. My girlfriend and I were both invited to attend. To sum things up, with my past history it would have been very easy for me to cave in to the pressure of my roommate’s drug use and fall back into my old behaviours but instead I was able to make a right decision basicly because an organization called the Human Exchange Society exists. Because of VHES I have a safe place to call home that allows me to continue to focus on my recovery, my family and the important relationships in my life.

I also have recently got myself a volunteer position in the community that has increased my self esteem and confidence. I am very grateful that the VHES exists.

Chris F.