Many men turn to Vernon’s Howard House to rebuild their lives and focus on the future.

Gifts of hope help local men heal

With Christmas almost here, local residents are urged to reach out to Howard House’s clients

Eric Duval was tired and worn down.

In and out of jail and struggling with addictions, Duval walked through the door of Vernon’s Howard House in April after a caring police officer  recommended the non-profit facility.

“I knew for a fact that I needed to do something, something had to happen,” said the 42-year-old.

“You have to be a little humble to live here but it’s been good. I joined the drug and alcohol program and there is help for any aspect of my life.”

The John Howard Society of the North Okanagan has been reaching out to men in need for 50 years.

“It’s not a parole house. They’re not evil people,” said Kelly Fehr, society program director.

They may be there because of disabilities, brain injuries, mental illness, substance abuse or they are on income assistance and have limited funds.

“We have guys here who are working but can’t afford to pay child support and housing,” said Steve Soglo, shelter services manager.

The average age of the clients is 56 but there are a growing number of senior men.

Inside the 43rd Street facility, the services range from nine beds for alcohol and drug harm reduction to a 24-bed men’s shelter, homeless prevention, 20 transitional housing rooms and the Work B.C. employment program.

“We are the only shelter in the province that provides employment services regularly,” said Fehr.

Clients go through employment workshops, career search programs, coaching, case management and computer training.

For some, they find positions with Howard Industries, which operates catering and handyman businesses.

The goal is to help these men move on to new careers and leave their former activities in the past.

“We’re building confidence,” said Soglo.

Some of the clients are victims of childhood sexual abuse and tough guy stereotypes make it challenging for them to first contact Howard House.

“The topic of men who struggle through life gets little coverage because men don’t talk about their feelings. When they ask for help, they are ridiculed because they asked for help,” said Fehr.

“When they come here, that’s when the healing begins.”

Duval is now living on his own through the society’s supported housing and working with Howard Industries. He envisions becoming a social worker and ultimately helping men with similar life stories.

“This is what makes me feel good,” said Duval, who is calling for compassion and understanding within the broader community.

“People don’t treat these people as human beings. It’s easy to say you are better than them until it happens to you.”

Soglo is impressed with Duval’s progress.

“A lot of guys are of a similar age and they see he’s made a change and that it’s possible. He is an example,” said Soglo.

With Christmas almost here, local residents are urged to reach out to Howard House’s clients.

Through www.homelesspartners.com, Christmas wish lists are posted for those at Howard House and the Gateway Shelter.

“We would like to encourage people to give a gift of hope to the most vulnerable and often exploited men in our community,” said Fehr.

In previous years, a gift of a laptop allowed one man to finish a college course and get a job, while another client was able to travel to his parent’s funeral because of a plane ticket. Many of the men ask for gifts they can pass on to their children.

“We hope the community will show that men, and even hurting men, are part of the community. This is a place for men to heal and the community can help with that,” said Fehr.

For more information about the John Howard Society, call 250-542-3555.

 

 

Just Posted

Vernon Vipers tie it up late, lose in shootout

The Vernon Vipers dropped their Sunday matinee to the visiting Victoria Grizzlies 6-5 in a shootout.

Vernon workshop ingites holiday spirit

Children’s Christmas Gift House is Dec. 8

North Okanagan Gleaners hard at work

Annual sock, mitten, toque campaign underway

Kalamalka Rotary Dream Auction raises record amount

More than $286,000 raised at Vernon event

Vernon talent marks Canada’s Freestyle Ski Team roster

Slopestylers Elena Gaskell, Patrick Dew and Noah Morrison join Canada’s Freestyle Ski Team

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

Kal Rotary fundraiser leads to wheelchair van purchase

The $39,000 awarded by Kalamalka Rotary was instrumental in securing the $56,000 needed.

Crash closes Highway 33 south of Kelowna

Estimated time of re-opening is 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18

Vernon Ski Club shows renowned winter film

Warren Miller’s Face of Winter screens at the Vernon Towne Cinema Nov. 22

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Most Read