After seeing the loneliness and lack of connections that their DTES tenants experience, siblings Jenny and Josh Konkin established Whole Way House, a DTES charitable society to combat these issues.
Whole Way House is located on the ground floor of the Avalon hotel, a single room occupancy building that houses approximately 85 low-income tenants in the DTES.
The goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment where tenants can build meaningful relationships and bolstering a sense of community. They offer friendship and support to those who are often lonely and isolated.
From weekly “family dinners” to games nights, cooking classes and haircuts, Whole Way House works to help residents to feel connected and accepted.
Here are some of their current and new programs.
Real Family Dinner
“Grandma Konkin” provides a real, homemade Italian meal on Wednesdays. There is never a dull (or quiet) moment when “The Nonna” is around – or any leftovers.
Monthly Hair Cuts
Heather from Abbotsford’s Axah Hair volunteers every month to give the guys a fresh new ‘do.
This initiative was Inspired by Jenny and Josh’s father who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma at the age of 48 and passed away in 2013. Given only months to live, their father Ron found a new perspective in life: “I don’t have to, I get to, because I’m still alive!”
The men at Whole Way House create necklaces that serve as a reminder and inspiration to live with purpose.
Each necklace is uniquely hand-stamped and assembled by a guest at Whole Way House. The part-time work gives an opportunity for someone who is transitioning out of homelessness and struggling with mental illness and/or addiction issues, to creatively work with their hands, at their own pace and to ReBuild dignity, value and purpose in their lives.
The proceeds from each of these Legacy Chains help fund the community-building programs at Whole Way House and scholarships for families in crises to attend the Relationship Lifeline weekend.
UGM Alumni’s Super Smoothies
The UGM Recovery Program Alumni come in on a weekly basis, after they have graduated from the Drug and Alcohol Recovery program, and make smoothies with the guys. Not only does it provide a nutritious snack, it gives the men a chance to bond with someone who has overcome their personal adversity, creating a supportive relationship. These interactions have opened up great conversations about recovery and taking next steps.
Emergency Training Groups with Iridia Medical
President of Iridia Medical, Dr. Allan Holmes, provides emergency training sessions to all residents, staff and volunteers. The courses are fun and interactive while providing vital training to create a safe and healthy environment at WWH and in the Avalon Hotel. Being part of a higher risk environment, tenants feel educated, equipped and safer in their homes.
Family Birthday Parties
Whole Way House loves to ReBuild family and let people know that they are loved and that they matter. They celebrate birthdays every month with cake, presents and puppy visits! It is so important for residents to feel valued and special so that they can begin to ReBuild their sense of purpose and worth.
Art Sessions with Gerrard
One of their very talented residents Gerrard shares his gift of art by teaching painting. He recently taught a group of young volunteers how to paint a mountain landscape.
For more information on Whole Way House, please visit their website at wholewayhouse.ca and make sure to get your ticket for the 4th annual Family Picnic in the Park, taking place on August 28. The event will take place at Prospect Point and will include an amazing BBQ donated by Earls.
Whole Way House Annual Family Picnic
When: August 28, 2016
Where: Prospect Point
Tickets: Get your tickets here