Fifth Annual Fresh Start Dinner & Auction demonstrates power of investing in the mental health of youth
Toronto, June 1, 2011 – In the garden of Dr. Peter and Mrs. Susan Schaal, 182 guests, including Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair, gathered Tuesday evening for the fifth annual Fresh Start Dinner & Auction to raise awareness and funds in support of the Portage Ontario Youth Treatment Fund. This fund provides youth access to residential treatment beds that would not otherwise be immediately available or affordable to their families. Through generous donations and the auction purchases, the event successfully raised over $120,000 to give youth in need the chance to change their lives with Portage this year.
Michael Howlett, Chair of the Board for Portage Ontario, opened the evening by stating, “My philosophy is that our children are not a charity, they are the future of this country, whether they have drug problems or not. Your support this evening helps us protect our country’s future by investing in these children.”
Michael was followed by Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair, who reinforced the value of investing in organisations like Portage. Chief Blair began, “I just jumped off a plane and came straight here, but there’s a reason I came straight here. I’ve been lucky enough to attend this event for a number of years now, and over the years I have heard some of the most compelling stories of compassion, support and love. The money you invest in Portage produces real value. It changes lives, and it saves lives.”
The evening included powerful addresses by a Portage Elora graduate and a resident, who spoke about their experiences at Portage. Caitlin, a graduate of Portage, shared, “Portage taught me that I deserve to be loved and cared for, and that everyone needs help sometimes. I owe my today, and my future, to Portage and to the Treatment Fund.”
Cardier, who is currently enrolled in the Portage Program, stated, “Throughout the program I began to see that I was as valuable as anyone else. I have learned how to understand others and how to ask for help. I know that I can’t do it by myself, but because of the family I’ve gained at Portage, I know I won’t have to.”
Portage is a non-profit organisation 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 38-year history, the organisation has assisted more that 40,000 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.