Newly housed Edmontonians and volunteers alike discover friendship through Welcome Home
The Welcome Home program matches community volunteers with newly housed Edmontonians. The intent is to welcome people into their new communities, show them around a bit and ensure that they have the companionship they need to feel at home. For some people who are newly housed, loneliness can be a significant problem: many have left behind their old lives and friends on the street, and sometimes end up living in a part of the city they are unfamiliar with. That's where the community volunteers come in: they go out together for coffee, go grocery shopping, visit the local library or maybe take in a hockey game.
The program has grown significantly over the last year and a half. It has matched 33 newly housed Edmontonians with volunteers. Here are some of their stories.
At their first meeting, Hank and his volunteers Joe and Mark, discovered that Hank’s father was from a small town in North Western Europe just down the road from Joe’s hometown. Hank had visited both his father’s home town and Joe’s town as well. Hank was happy to discover that he and his volunteers had more in common than he thought they would, and enjoys having friends that he can go for coffee with instead of to a bar or pub.
Cheryl discovered the Welcome Home program through her support worker. Since joining the program, Cheryl is re-building a relationship with her daughter. With the support and encouragement of her volunteers, Cheryl has maintained a good job that she enjoys and is proud to say she has become financially independent. She works out of town, and on her one week off each month continues to visit with her volunteers, as she values their continued support.
Justin recently travelled abroad to get married. When he returned to Canada, the first people he called when he landed at the airport were his two volunteers and the Welcome Home Program coordinator to reconnect and share his exciting news. The volunteers matched with Justin have found joy in sharing the many pictures of his homeland and new wife. The three continue to meet for regular visits.
If you'd like more information about Welcome Home, or you'd like to volunteer for the program, please go to the website. Please note, that the program is also in need of ongoing operating funding in order to continue to grow.