Many thanks to a long term Threshold staff member

Image of Rick

Rick was a Threshold staff member for over 20 years. We'll miss him!

In August of this year, one of the cornerstones of Threshold left to take advantage of new opportunity out of province. Rick Sandberg, an ordained minister, was on the original board of the Threshold Housing Society in the early 1990s. He also served as the first director of Mitchell House in 1992. Outside of his own ministerial duties, Rick continued to assist Threshold by eventually becoming a weekend supervisor in Mitchell House. Working in street ministry daily, there wasn’t too much of the human condition that Rick had not seen.  It was through such experiences that he brought a lot of compassion and understanding to the young men of Mitchell House.  While Threshold is sad to see Rick leave, we are deeply grateful for his years of heartfelt assistance. One of his last contributions to the Society was to take over the management of our website and it is thanks to him that our site has grown and flourished.  Go well, Rick!

Island of Lost Boys: Threshold Housing’s mission to assist the lost….

On September 14, 2011, Monday Magazine published an article by Danielle Pope about Mitchell House and its residents.  In telling the stories of youths and their struggles, the superb article pulverizes the worn myth that at-risk youth are simply rebellious kids going through a phase. Their stories are as unique as they are as to why they are homeless and arrived on the doorsteps of Mitchell House.  Life is hard for all of us, but much more so if you are a minor without a home, trying to finish school and hold-down a part-time job. The article makes it quite clear just how resilient some youth are in dealing with a lot of uncertainty, lack of support and poverty while trying to grow up. Graham Kelly, the house mentor at Mitchell House, revels in the triumphs he witnesses of young men—so misjudged and dismissed by the community—trying to forge a life out of a painful past.

Graham Kelly, Mitchell House Mentor

Mentioned by several of the young men interviewed, the key factor in helping them along their path was stable housing as opposed couch surfing or even shelters. One resident remarked that “hotel rooms and homeless shelters were my best buds” until he’d had enough and “packed up his shelter belongings and marched himself to the house.” Another youth agreed that stable housing was far better than “walking around with my bag and tent on my back every day, taking showers at the gym and just surviving…” Each youth is filled with such potential and hope. It is the hope of Threshold, through its transitional housing program, to cherish this potential and give it furtile ground to blossom. Like most non-profits, Threshold depends heavily on donations and the good-will of the community to support many youth who aren’t able to support themselves while trying to finish high school. Currently, there are only 16 dedicated beds in a stable housing situation for youth in the Victoria region. Threshold is looking for any support and help in either building or acquiring more homes.

Tribute to a Threshold Supporter

It was with great sadness that we learned of John K. Watson’s sudden death on August 9th, 2011. Mr. Watson had been a long time supporter of Threshold Housing Society, donating regularly to give local youth a chance of having stable housing. In lieu of flowers, donations were requested to be made to Threshold. John believed in community and understood hospitality. He worked for the United Nations and worked in the food service industry for most of his professional life. One of his favourite sayings was “think globally, but act locally.” John truly celebrated life with great enthusiasm and unsurpassed generosity for all. Our deepest condolesences goes to all family members. We trust many others will follow John’s example in acting locally by giving to the least able in their community a hand-up in life.

Thank you, John.

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Threshold Celebrates Summer and Community

Tony Wick and Ron Hall of the Tri-Ministries (St. David’s by the Sea, St. Peter’s Lakehill and St. Michael’s and All Angels) organized a fabulous barbeque, July 21, at Holly House for the entire Threshold family. It was a wonderful way to acknowledge community partners, supporters and parishioners from the various churches who assist Threshold in achieving its mission. Residents were in attendance as well as Board Members. Music was supplied by Roger Plant. Many thanks to both Remax and Level Ground Trading Coffee for their support. Many thanks as well to Fran McArthur for kicking off the “Quilts for Kids” program through the BC Liquor Stores starting in August. Thank you everyone who made this a very successful and happy event.

New strategies for homeless youth

Dr. Steven Gaetz of York University presented a talk to the Youth Housing Network on July 5, 2011 outlining the Canadian situation with regard to youth homelessness and several initiatives being taken in other jurisdictions around the world. His major message was that all levels of government have to stop looking at youth homelessness in terms of an “emergency (shelter) response” and spend much more in resources in terms of prevention and intervention, that is, preventing youth from becoming homeless and removing youth as quickly as possible from the street.  Dr. Gaetz is the founder of “homelesshub,” a website that acts as a central exchange for networking and homeless research in Canada. Check it out:

Annual General Meeting

The Threshold Housing Society held its 2011 Annual General Meeting on June 22 at Saint John the Divine Rectory. President Richard Couch gave a thorough and thoughtful accounting of the Society over the last year in terms of finances, programs and changes to the constitution.  Reports were also heard from the Treasurer (Bob Porter) and the Executive Director. It was a great opportunity to meet old and new members as well as those wishing to become Board Members.


Congratulations to the Native Friendship Centre Of Victoria

Congratulations to the Native Friendship Centre (Regina Street) on the occasion of their first pole raising ceremony (June 21). It was a colourful affair, attended by hundreds of well-wishers. The Threshold Housing Society is especially proud of one of our residents who is currently staying with us and worked on the pole. The wood is Red Cedar and the pole is Coast Salish in its conception.  The totem embodies the interconnected nature of the world symbolized by the weaving nature of the roots that join together both animal and human figures.


Art Skills to Life Skills

Thanks to a grant from the Queen Alexandra Foundation, the Threshold Housing Society will be running an innovative in-house program for residents who reside in our houses. Through various mediums, the program will teach basic skills to reach self-sufficiency. The idea of self-sufficiency is based on the need for self-care and self-love, that is, to ensure that each resident has the self-esteem necessary to seek out decent accommodation, good clothing, nutritious food, the means to keep clean, and the has ability to plan for the future. Such are the building blocks for moving youth from transitional housing to independent housing. The program will be facilitated by Peggy English of Unstuck Coaching who has agreed to assist us in this pilot project.

Killer donation

Have you read any good books lately?

Threshold Housing Society would like to acknowledge the very kind donation of some 75 books from Orca Book Publishers that will be placed in each of our houses.  Over the years, Orca publications have been a “best seller” to many youths, especially the “Sounding” series which often go missing as youths leave and move on.  But we don’t care!  It is wonderful to find a book you love to read and wish to pass it on for others to read as well.  What makes this series so popular are the compelling plots, authentic dialogue, easily recognizable characters, and the fact that authors aren’t afraid to use controversial language.  It has been wonderful to watch youth take up reading again once they have a stable housing situation with a warm room and safe environment.  Thanks Orca!

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