Gord Cross

Honour House provides refuge

NANAIMO – Provincewide tour promotes program for first responders.

Sometimes the people who spend their lives helping others need help and support themselves.

Since 2010, the Honour House Society has provided a refuge for military personnel, police, firefighters and paramedics and their families in their times of need.

Honour House is home away from home for armed forces and emergency services personnel and their families when they are ill or injured and need a place to stay while receiving treatment in the Lower Mainland.

“Any agency – corrections, fire, paramedics, RCMP, border security – and uniformed personnel can stay at the house free of charge,” said Tim Armstrong, New Westminster Fire Rescue chief and Honour House Society director.

Armstrong was in Nanaimo Friday with a team of volunteers on a promotional tour that will visit 38 cities in the province to raise awareness about the house and to promote the creation of Honour Ranch on 14 hectares of property north of Kamloops to focus on mental health injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Honour House was built with nearly $2 million in in-kind donations, materials and labour from the B.C. Construction Association and a low-interest loan from B.C. Housing.

“It’s for any kind of treatment,” Armstrong said. “It could be a paramedic’s daughter who needs treatment at Children’s Hospital and rather than staying at a hotel, they stay at the house … anybody that’s down for any kind of treatment.”

Armstrong said it has been a struggle getting the word out about the programs. Even many first responders and military personnel don’t know about it, but once people do hear about it, they ask how it’s funded and ways they can become involved in supporting it.

Craig Richardson, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief, said one reason for the lack of publicity could be an unwillingness for first responders to ask for help.

“First responders tend to be giving by nature and they often don’t know how or are reluctant to ask for help for themselves, but often ask how they can help and this is a good way they can get involved,” Richardson said.

Honour House is almost completely funded by donations raised through annual gala fundraisers and other events, fundraising efforts by emergency responder agencies and from first responders’ paycheque deductions.

Anyone can contribute to Honour House through the society’s Adopt a First Responder program.

For more information, please visit https://honourhouse.ca.

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