Toronto, Tuesday, June 8, 2010 – Amid the lush Rosedale garden of Dr. Peter and Mrs. Susan Schaal, 190 guests, including Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair, gathered Tuesday evening for the 4th annual Portage Ontario Fresh Start Dinner & Auction to raise awareness and funds in support of the Portage Ontario Youth Treatment Fund. The fund provides access to the Portage Elora treatment centre, where youth come to overcome struggles with addiction. Through overwhelmingly generous donations and the purchase of auction items, such as exclusive getaways, golf and entertainment packages to name a few, the event successfully raised over $110,000. This total far surpasses Portage Ontario’s goal of 85,000, which would give an extra ten youth, and their families, the chance to change their lives at Portage this year.
The evening included powerful addresses by Sarah, a teenager who began struggling with addiction at the tender age of eleven, and who has since come through one of Portage’s treatment programs, and her mother, Fran. After sharing a history of her battle with addiction, Sarah told guests, “I’m going on four months clean, and I don’t think I would have been able to do it without Portage’s help. Portage saved my life, and the lives of many other addicts who suffered just as I did. I will always be grateful for that.” Fran followed in thanking Portage; “Without her rehabilitation at Portage, no doubt Sarah would be on the street or in her grave. Portage gave her back to us. I want to thank Portage for helping us write a triumph, not a tragedy.”
Peter Howlett, President of Portage’s Board of Directors, was overcome by the touching stories shared by Sarah and Fran; “I think that Sarah is a courageous, gutsy and intelligent young lady. She represents well the people who go through Portage. Her story does not stand alone.”
Chief Blair also spoke briefly about the value of Portage and organizations like it, stating, “I have come to know that what we need to do is to make sure that our children have the opportunity to receive treatment, and to receive care. Portage delivers that return. It is an investment that saves lives, and that puts young people back on their feet.”
Portage Ontario took advantage of the event to present its new promotional video, featuring residents, staff, graduates, and Board Members. The video paints a clear picture of what drug rehabilitation treatment at Portage is all about.
Portage is a non-profit organization which fosters the strengths and skills of substance dependent persons to enable them, through comprehensive and cost-effective interventions based on the therapeutic community approach, to live lives of sobriety, filled with dignity, self-respect, and accomplishment. In its 37-year history, the organization has assisted more that 36,000 people to take back control of their lives and seek Freedom from Addiction. Portage operates ten drug addiction treatment programs across Quebec, Ontario, Atlantic Canada and British Columbia. For more information on Portage and to learn how you can get involved, visit www.portage.ca.
Pictured here: Sarah, a graduate of Portage who spoke at the event, with Police Chief Bill Blair; and Sarah’s mother, Fran, who also addressed the guests.