Welcome Home facility for addicts and court-ordered offenders NOT welcome in my old neighbourhood.

Surrey city hall is going to have a couple of big fights on their hands tonight, one of  them taking the form of a public hearing that gives Newton residents the chance to voice their concerns over an unwanted and controversial rehab facilitythat The John Volken Foundation wants to build in the heart of residential Newton.

I’m happy to report that the prospect of this Welcome Home facility has been getting  much press locally,that prompted the Province editorial: Social Load Too Heavy to Bear.  Considering how long, and how often I have written about the numerable social problems and ongoing degradation of this family neighbourhood, it was a winning moment. It meant someone is listening to the residents here, even if it isn’t city hall. This blog post details the ongoing struggles of what residents here in Newton are dealing with: http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/newton-neighbourhoods-still-rife-with-prostitutesdrugs-and-crime-despite-citys-newton-revitalization-plan/

One of the local Surrey papers, The Leader,also gave some space to this issue, but unfortunately, they failed to mention the facility will take court-ordered offenders, failed to mention that the foundation refuses to provide documentation to their alleged success, and failed to mention that if someone drops out, they are out with nothing. That is what is worrying locals, as detailed in this excerpt from a fantastic piece by Stephanie Ryan, titled : Surrey council shouldn’t ignore concerns about Welcome Home recovery home . I’ve highlighted the particularly troubling concerns voiced by residents who claim the city has been planning this all along.(It is also interesting to note that John Volken is a member of the Mayors Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety,however, he doesn’t seem to be willing to provide any statistical information as to the success of his other facility, which seems to be at odds with his position on the mayors committees)

Stephanie says:

Many people in Surrey are wondering what it is about the proposed Welcome Home facility that city council wants so badly that it would ignore its own planning and development department’s recommendations.

The controversy will come to a head on Monday (October 5), when the proposal goes to a public hearing.

Welcome Home is being billed as a therapeutic community that will aim to equip recovering drug and alcohol addicts, as well as court-ordered offenders, with the life and job skills they need.

The proposal is being put forward by John Volken, former CEO of United Furniture Warehouse.

The Welcome Home complex seeks to provide room and board for up to 192 residents in exchange for all of their income, including welfare cheques. In return, residents will be provided with job-skills training and will work in the various retail warehouses that have been built on the property.

While the self-help model is certainly non-conventional, the hope is that the residents will overcome their addictions through abstinence, role modelling, and peer pressure.

We may all agree that there needs to be more opportunities to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders and other recovering addicts into society. But the context on this one is all wrong.

The city intends to ignore its own policy that says that recovery homes should not be sited within 600 metres of joint school/park sites, child-care facilities, or other recovery homes, if there are any complaints from the public and if they are likely to generate negative impacts.

Welcome Home, essentially an over-sized recovery home, will be built within 600 metres of two elementary schools, W.E. Kinvig and Henry Bose, in the heart of the Newton neighbourhood.

The King George Highway corridor in Newton already has a history of prostitution, and is prime territory for dial-a-dopers.

And residents and businesses alike feel the area is already doing its fair share to accommodate those in recovery programs with the area’s methadone-dispensing pharmacies, homeless shelter, and recovery homes, as well as an adult probation office and the Easy Does It Club for recovering alcoholics.

Public opposition to Welcome Home is strong, with almost 900 people signing a petition to oppose the development. Most are worried about the negative impacts such a sizable facility could bring to their already-overburdened neighbourhood, where families are raising young children.

Residents and small businesses do feel the impact. They are unhappy with the high rate of crime in the area, whether it’s having the dumpster in their back lot set on fire, the break-ins to homes and businesses, or threats to their children by local drug dealers.

Many are concerned that a low-security facility housing up to 200 ex-offenders (with an expected drop-out rate of 50 percent within the first 30 days) will simply attract more unsavoury activity.

Their concerns aren’t unfounded. In fact, previous research done in Vancouver suggests that the size of a recovery home ought to be limited to 12 occupants in order to minimize negative impacts to a neighbourhood.

In Vancouver, Volken had previously sought to develop a similar therapeutic community. There, that project did not proceed because of concerns about the size and scale of the project, as well as its financial viability and some unanswered questions about the staff-to-client ratio. The City of Vancouver followed the recommendations of its planning department and a report that noted that smaller facilities are more likely to be successful.

In Surrey’s case, in the report written by the planning and development department for the Welcome Home project, most parties express general support in principle for a long-term facility that provides supported housing to those who are recovering from addiction.

But both the crime prevention office and the RCMP agree that there could be some issues that arise with Welcome Home simply because of its sheer magnitude.

Surrey’s planning and development department recommended that city council refer the application back to staff so that the proposal could be modified in three respects.

The planners say that the scale and number of occupants in the proposed facility should be reduced, that provincial licensing or accreditation with a body like the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities should be obtained, and that the clientele and selection process for occupants should be confirmed.

Despite the planning department’s recommendations, city council voted to take the development application to the next step. They ignored the opportunity to take a step back, to make some fairly common-sense modifications to the proposal that would likely have made the project more amenable to the community.

It’s not the first time Surrey city council has ignored the recommendation of the planning department. Newton residents and businesses owners say the project has been treated as a done deal from the beginning…”

Pretty much sums it up. I’ve read the city’s reports, and I’ve read the recommendations. I’ve also heard from numerous residents that have spoken to counsellors and John Volken, and it seems there may be more to this project down the road. A concerned resident forwarded me the following information, taken from the Provincial government website:

The project was featured in the “Major Projects Inventory – Province of B.C. Economic Development Report June 2005″ – see excerpt from page 46 of the subject report below that I found on Provincial Government website - I cut and pasted the info.

           Welcome Home DevelopmentProject ID: 1151Clearly, the concerns of residents are real and supported by a lack of information and statistics on the success of John Volkens model. Clearly, this project has been on the horizon for some time, despite what some people are saying.

I say no to this project – not now, and not ever.I lived in this neighbourhood for 5 years, and moved to get away from the problems these residents are still having to deal with everyday. The last thing they need is to worry about the 50% of enrollees who drop out in the first thirty days, and are left with nothing out on the sidewalk.

Mr. Volken feels the project should be built in this location because the training store for the addicts is right down the street, the new Price Pro store. I say if he can afford to build a project like this on his own, with no accountability to local or provincial governments, he can build it in a non-residential neighbourhood and transport the “students” from one location to another by vehicle, thus ensuring peace of mind to residents everywhere.

This isn’t a case of NOT IN MY BACKYARD, this is a case of not in ANYONES backyard, and I will be watching to see how Mayor Watts and council deal with this. I would wonder if she would feel secure about this facility being built so near her daughters school, or if Marvin Hunt would like this a block away from his home. What about Barinder Rasode- would she feel this is an acceptable facility next to her  house?

This is your last chance to voice your concerns on this project. Here are the details for tonights hearing:

Monday October 5th, 6:30 pm, Surrey City Hall Council Chambers

File # 7907-0129-00 John Volken Foundation Rezoning and Development Permit

Anyone wishing to speak or give a written submission at tonights hearing can register in the lobby at 6:30 pm, where staff will be happy to assist you.

Welcome Home Society Ph: (604) 591-4441 (City of Surrey)

Proposed residence, training centre and furniture outlet to be located at

68th Ave and King George Hwy. Plans may also include a small farm or

ranch property. Project is on hold.

Status: On hold Start: ?

Est. Cost ($ million): 20 Finish: ?

First Entry: Jun 2004 Last Update: Mar 2005

This entry was posted in crime, Laila Yuile and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Welcome Home facility for addicts and court-ordered offenders NOT welcome in my old neighbourhood.

  1. In case you or the resident’s of surrey haven’t noticed there’s a freakin epidemic going on. And by the way surrey has the highest concentration of recovery houses in canada .” HERE’S FREAKIN WHY”

    FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME

    If you or your readers would like a web with a view we have it covered

    Last year in early November I was walking around the downtown eastside as part of normal routine, and couldn’t help but notice the poverty and hopelessness that seem to be rampant on every corner of this the poorest part of our lovely city. I myself have suffered in the past from addiction and temporary homeless conditions. After a few days of feeling inspired I decided to carry a camera with me and started to document what I saw for the next two week’s I gathered together a archive of photo’s and with the help of a friend we produced a video which we aptly named THE OLYMPICS’ TOOK MY HOME This video is currently hosted on over fifty websites throughout the world. I also started a WEBSITE called 2010homelesschampions.ca ” WHO NEW” Today I’m so looking forward to the coming event’s surrounding the Olympics’ and the plight of this neighborhood Here is the link to this video

    http://www.2010homelesschampions.ca/olympic_impact_on_homelessness_i.htm

    Vancouver Hosts the 2010 Addiction Olympics

    This website is dedicated to telling the stories of the unfortunate individuals living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver in the hope that awareness of this problem will spur people to get involved, to let all levels of government know that something has to be done to alleviate this misery rooted in addiction, homelessness and depravity. To point the way to recovery from addiction, which we believe is the root of most of this situation. With the 2010 Olympics coming to Vancouver it is our mandate to record the transition and the extreme changes that are even now occurring and will continue to unfold in the Downtown Eastside.

    http://www.2010homelesschampions.ca/

    2010 Homeless Champions Videos on YouTube

    http://www.2010homelesschampions.ca/youtubevideos.htm

  2. Laila says:

    Yes sir, we have noticed there is an epidemic. The area of Newton is becoming quite slummy with all the social problems streaming into the neighbourhood. And despite tears, anxiety and pleas to not flood the area with more problems, the facility was approved ,with only Mayor Watts and Bose opposed.

    There is no doubt that recovery houses and facitlies are needed- that is not in question at all. We are not concerned about the people who succeed. What we are concerned about is the more than half of John Volkens “Students” who drop out with nothing to their name in the first 30 days, and the court ordered offenders. The representative from Welcome Home claimed that all addicts make an 18 month commitment, and want to be there prior to their acceptance into the program, but he failed to explain the drop out rate.

    It alarms me to no end that the councillors approved this against the recommendation of their own planning department.

    It alarms me that at no point have the councillors thought about the number of people that will be left in our neighbourhood after they drop out. If there are up to 4 addicts in each of those thirty something rooms, and half of them drop out….? Wow. Nice offload into the community. But then again, none of the councillors actually live near that area, so they do not understand or sympathize with residents who deal with this on a daily basis. They seem to think Newton is fine the way it is, or they would have done something constructive by now.

    Should we all be concerned to help others? Should we be compassionate to the indigent population, the criminals, the prostitutes and addicts in our neighbourhoods? Perhaps. But then I ask you this.

    Who is charged with the care and concern of the families and elderly who own homes there, and the young families who can’t afford to just pick up and leave when things become intolerable? Who is making sure their property values don’t decline any more? Who is making sure they are safe in their own backyards?

    Who is watching over them, because it certainly is not the city. The RCMP do not have enough members to watch over all of Newton,and I fear at some point residents will turn to vigilante behavior to take back their streets. Part of me says that I couldn’t blame them if they do, there are few options left.

    I firmly believe, Former Addict, that the problem of homelessness and poverty in the DTES will not be solved in my lifetime in Vancouver, or anywhere else. Those in the area who are being displaced are just being pushed elsewhere. As one area imnproves, another area is starting to decline and the cycle continues

    There are far too many agencies who depend on those addicted, poverty stricken people for a paycheque to allow them to disappear anytime soon. That may sound callous, but it is true. It’s part of the money stream called the Poverty Industry.

  3. Thank you
    I myself have a men’s recovery house here in east van it’s been running now for over the last five years I deal with men who have had addiction problem’s for most of there adult life, the majority are veteran’s of the dtes and this may be hard to believe but we are self supporting. We do not fall under the so called poverty money train .The success we had has been through not being institutionalized but more hands on and personal. RECOVERY today is a revolving door the addicted homeless drug addict’s have great expectations from mainstream recovery and they know that for the most part it’s a cash cow so it to me only reinforces the I’m entitled mind set. Teaching people to care about themselves and others is nothing new to me it is the foundation for change other wise the critical spirit will send them packing every time

  4. Laila says:

    Glad to hear of your success. How many men do you assist at any given time and what is your drop out rate?

    I’m curious to hear what you think of the Welcome Home model of rehabilitation, where he claims to have such success doing ( it sounds like) the same thing as you. He is also self funded, and his staff is mainly peer based with very few professionals to monitor and interact,and yet they still have over 50% drop out- (and they claim these are people who want to change their lives.) As I said, it is not disputed facilities are needed for rehab, it is the location for such a large facility that is the issue here.

    No matter how you look at it, a 50% drop our rate in a facility the size he is going to build out too, is far too many people out on the streets, in a residential neighbourhood, with no resources – which leads to break ins and thefts to get some.

  5. He can afford to be self-supporting he was the former owner of United Buy and Sell

    I just have a passion to make a difference

    The facility he plan’s to open although it may seem unique is to me both good and bad, he plan’s to keep the client’s busy which is a good thing by employing them at his place of business again a good thing, the client’s are supported by welfare and they work for free in his furniture store he thinks’ this is positive and for the most part it is , not paying them and calling this education and making money from the employment of these client’s is where i draw the line i see instant resentment. End of story

    Now you asked about the success of my house here is a story that was done by the Province newspaper a couple of month’s ago you can judge for your self

    http://www.theprovince.com/House+rising+sons/1774536/story.html

  6. Laila says:

    well, we have something in common, then Former. I too, have a passion to make a difference. That is what this site is all about, and I commend you for your efforts.
    Sometimes it is the little guy( gal) who wins in the end.

    I remember this story well, but you have to admit, one house is quite different from what Volken has planned. 3 -4 people per room, with 30 somthing rooms to start ,with a build out to over 70, is more like an institutional setting rather than a home.

    I really like how you summed up the working for free business. If you go to his site,( its in the post above) it says that any money, gifts, items, WHATEVER, that comes with or is given to the “student” during his stay, is taken away and kept. At some point, they are given an allowance and taught to manage it.

    There have been complaints from former students who left though, although none will talk to the press.

  7. Andy Rogers says:

    Hi Laila,
    Sorry that the Welcome Home of John Volken has succeeded to secure a license. However, two years later you can see, the program has nothing to show for.
    the question that remains is whether this program is genuine, or is it Johh Volken’s brilliant way to avoid paying taxes ( with his complex organizational structure (John Volken Foundation, Welcome Home Society and Welcome Home Foundation) and to use the most vulnerable people to generate profits?

    Here is what made me raise this question

    1. “Registration Fee”
    John Volken claims in his advertisements that each addict costs him $76,000 for therapy. Why does he bother to collect $387 “registration fee” from the poor addicts?
    How many students have paid the “Registration Fee” worked hard in his grocery store (Price Pro) 12 hours a day, then left empty handed? In a recent article he said that it took him more than 1000 students to have this 25 students (see Georgia Straight).
    How much has John collected in registration fees from failed students? They have paid $387,000 to Mr. Volken’s Welcome Home and left empty handed.

    2. Calling addicts “students”
    Calling addicts students is a misnomer to justify “FREE LABOR” Those people work very hard in the store in return for food and shelter under the guise of therapy. Those “students” work much harder than those you meet at grocery stores like Costco, Safeway, and Superstore.
    If you compare them to any “workers” in a grocery store, they would have been paid between $15 – $20/hour ($3000-$5000 a month) plus benefits. What do these students get for their work? Food and shelter in a work camp called “Welcome home.” The whole program is dependent on Peer counseling (no cost) and there is no “THERAPY” which they needed the most. Doesn’t this sound like manipulation of the most vulnerable?
    If he is doing charity work as he claims, he should pay them for the work they do and give it to them when they leave or graduate (minus cost of accomodation at his Home)

    3. Graduates
    The program has been working for more than two years. He should tell us how many “students” graduated from this program, and what has been happening to them.

    I think the city of Surrey, the Health Authorities and the Ministry of Health should audit this home to see what is happening to those least fortunate, the “students.”

    • Laila says:

      Agreed on all points Andy, I have heard quite a few stories from people who have left this program and yes I agree there is something wrong with this false picture. Unfortunately, our mayor and council have no issue with it, despite the large number of people who turned out to protest this facility. Where does all that money go? What kind of benefits does he reap personally from this venture? The good of his heart? I think not. This is a story for someone who has the time to dig right into it and look south of the border to his beginnings and facility down there.

    • jai says:

      Welcome Home is a complete and utter joke, it is a scam to take people’s money and make even more money while doing it. It is basically a cult! And I say this because I know first hand. I paid $4800 for registration plus my flight there from SK. They assured me and my family that after a two month black out period, that I could talk to them on the phone. I was told it was a two year program and that there is 24 hour counseling staff there. I get out there to find out I would be there for the next two to five yrs depending on when John Volken and the other clients felt I was ready to graduate! This so called counseling they have is non existent, the clients are each others counselors. Don’t get me wrong it’s ok to vent to someone, but the other clients in there, are NOT professionals. I left Welcome Home after only being there eight days. Everything in my body, to my very core was telling me that this place is NOT RIGHT! They tell you to talk a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way, be a certain way! In my opinion John Volken is running a slave labor camp/ cult. If you are not a BC resident once you get to Welcome Home, they have you wait the three month until you are able to apply for social assistance. Once on assistance your checks go to John Volken.
      In the eight days I was there I seen three people go into the program and leave. When I walked out of Welcome Home I was fortunate enough to grab some of my clothes, whatever I could carry in a little garbage bag. The program director also I client at WH told me that if I wanted my SIN card,ID,Health Card and birth certificate back, that I would have to leave the clothes I grabbed of mine. I had to get the police involved to get my identifications back. It was only then that I found out that the piece of paper you sign when you get to WH saying what’s brought on the property even the clothes on your back, become WH property, was not legal in any way shape or form. It was used as a scare tactic, to make you think if you leave that place early you’ll have nothing.
      The entire Welcome Home program is a SCAM. I still have the WH booklet they make you memorize, from my stay there. And my lawyer has all the papers I signed and has done extensive research on WH. Someone might read this and think I’m just mad at the fact I went to the WH program, left and lost my money. When really it is not about the money at all. It is about the fact that John Volken is taking advantage of people who are already at a low, manipulating them, lying to them, and running a legal slave labor camp!

  8. Andy Rogers says:

    He did not start there in Seattle. If you look at the Immigrant Magzine, he had been recycling the same story since June 2004. It sounds like a fraud, but you know, someday, someone will discover the “frills and gimmicks” behind this mystry.

    http://media.canadianimmigrant.ca/acrobat/73/89/c19da10a4c7fbbf71099fbc2eb70.pdf

    Now he has the same story in June 2011 in the same magazine

    http://canadianimmigrant.ca/immigrant-stories/john-volken-built-a-furniture-empire-from-nothing/

    He had the same story in the month of may and June in articles in the courier, Georgia straight, and the Surrey Now.
    God knows what he is up to.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Actually, Welcome Home has been operating in both Seattle and Surrey since 2005. As of February 1, 2012 only 25 people have completed (“graduated”) the program, according to John Volken’s Marketing Director, Cathy Heard. Even using Volken’s own number (likely a low number) of 1,000 addicts enrolled in the program thus far, this means Welcome Home has a success rate of 2.5%. This also means Welcome Home’s failure rate is 97.5%. And THAT is using Welcome Home’s numbers. The reality is likely worse still.
    This near perfect record of failure should come as no surprise. John Volken literally has zero training or education in the field of addiction recovery. We are talking about the most psychologically fragile individuals who require the most expert and complex personal therapy imaginable. And this utterly uneducated, untrained furniture mogul insists that he himself must dictate the details of each addict’s re-programming?!
    Even IF Mr Volken’s heart is in the right place, the odds are he is only further damaging the 97.5% of addicts who give themselves over to him in desperation.
    The obvious question is this: Why doesn’t Volken use the considerable financial resources at his disposal to support existing programs that are run by professionals trained and educated in addiction therapies? IMO, the answer lies in John’s own deeply flawed character and his profound psychological need for control of others.

  10. Ryan Reynolds says:

    Hi,
    I am a former, “student”, from Welcome Home. I, “Graduated”, February 15th 2010. I just wanted to say that Andy Rogers and what he wrote above about the suspicions of the Welcome Home are mostly true. I came to Welcome Home in 2008 fresh out of prison, desperate but not wanting to use drugs ever again. Drugs destroyed my life and I wanted freedom from addiction.
    The Program Director of that time,(Grady, a former “student” and only graduate), picked me up and brought me to Welcome Home in Surrey.
    Within the first few hours I was questioning my decision to try Welcome Home. Grady gave me a tour and handed me a “Student Manual” (Welcome Home’s rulebook about the daily in’s and outs) The manual that John seemed to change about once a month. He could never keep it one way. It seemed to me he was some kind of perfectionist. Once I had been there over a year I ended up able to attend board meetings. I don’t know why he had a board since it was always his final word on how things were going to be run. It didn’t matter if 9 out of 10 voted against something. If John said he wanted it, he got it. Always his way or the highway. He dealt with everyone this way. From “students” to upper management.
    Wow. Sorry for going off on a tangent but I have so much pain and so many emotions regarding this place and what it DIDN’T do for my life. John pretty much guarantee’s lifelong sobriety if you graduate but that’s not what I had to look forward to.
    It’s true what Andy said about Free Labor. You are always “busy” as they call it. Right from 6:00AM when you get up till 10 or 11 when you pass out from exhaustion. It’s true you are at the store working (PricePro) for 10 or 12 hours a day sometimes longer depending on what’s going on or who is at different levels, etc. Newer “students” had to have a 24/7 escort.
    There were two groups a week called Encounters in which your peers got to point out bad behaviours that you may have been exhibiting. This was a farce because sometimes what you did was totally justifiable in normal society but not at Welcome Home. It was an excuse to cut you down and humiliate you in order to get control over your life. If you shut up and took it, good for you, good boy, thanks for conforming to this nasty regiment.
    Thats all I’m going to say now because I’m am very seriously considering taking this stuff and my whole story to the media. What I have disclosed here if only a tiny smidgen of what really goes on there and I’m still suffering inside and I think by going public I can finally put this behind me and get some closure. I can also save someone else from going there and wasting there time and maybe their last shot at life.

    • Laila says:

      Ryan, you are more than welcome to tell me your story, through the contact page. I can assure you,you are not alone in your experience, and I hope you find some resolution you can live with. There are far too many unanswered questions, and Volken doesnt like answering questions.

      • Ryan Reynolds says:

        Hey,
        Thanks for responding so quickly. I’m actually shocked it was so fast. Problem is…. I don’t even know where to begin. And you are more than correct about John not answering questions. I think that is where I can fit it. I sat on his board for about a year, was Student Council President, and was interim Program Director for a few months. I got a very up and personal, look at John and how he handles his “business”.

    • cyril vallantin says:

      Dear Ryan my name is Cyril, Im as well a former student from Welcome Home, I’ve been there for roughly 16-17 months, after I finally left. I was gradually getting worse and kept getting triggered in the encounters. That place started being very counter productive. Though I did walk away with some good aspects from this place, I now need recovery from Welcome Home never mind drug recovery. I’ve been out since July 16/ 2012 and Im still clean and sober. I’ve discussed with other people what goes on in this place and general consensus is people are appalled by what goes on there. Ryan if you do decide to go to the media I want you to know Im 100% behind you and would love to support you along side with you. Let me know if you want my contact information I will leave it to Laila.

      • Laila says:

        Cyril I will pass on your contact info to Ryan if his still works and stay strong, and real, ok? It’s an amazing thing to have stayed sober this long on your own and I am so proud of you for this.I’m going to email you back and know a few places that can help you, or hook you up with someone who can.I think it’s time to do a story on this. Life is a good thing and you only get one chance.You are valued cyril, watch for my email shortly.

        • Cyril Vallantin says:

          Thank you laila for your encouraging words I look forward to hear from you again. It’s been extremely tough getting back on my feet since I got out but Im staying strong and most important clean and sober Im still struggling lots, but i do have a network of people who support me and are behind me so I will be all right. I hope Ryan is all right too and that he read my blog thank you for your support let me know when we can move forward with the story.
          Thank you.

          Sincerely;

          Cyril

    • Jessica Cangemi says:

      I live next to the Welcome Home Ranch in AZ. I am very interested in talking with people about this facility. Email me at cangemi.taitai@gmail.com

  11. omarandy says:

    Jennifer,
    1000 applicant failed means that he collected $387,000 from the “STUDENTS”. Not a bad deal :)
    John does not change his word about the number of graduates. It has been 25 for a long time :) I heard about 25 graduates in 2009. then in 2011. Now in 2012l

    Ryan,
    Sorry to hear about what happened to you. here is what i have written to the Courrier in July 2011 in response to their article about Welcome Home.
    I hope you can move forward and do not let what happened stop you. If you can survive with John Volken as you described, you can survive anywhere else :)
    All the best
    Here are my communications with Mark Hasiuk, a columnist at Vancouver Courier in comment on an article he wrote about Welcome Home.

    On 7/15/11 12:26 PM, “Andy R.” wrote:
    Dear Mr. Hasiuk,

    Thank you for your article on recovery from addiction. However, I wish you covered the following points in discussing the story of John Volken and his Welcome Home.

    1. “Registration Fee”
    John Volken claims in his advertisements that each addict costs him $76,000 for therapy. Why does he bother to collect $387 “registration fee” from the poor addicts?
    How many students have paid the “Registration Fee” worked hard in his grocery store (Price Pro), then left empty handed? you might find that at least 1000 students had failed to have this 25 students (see Georgia Straight).
    How much has John collected in registration fees from failed students? They have paid $387,000 to Mr. Volken’s Welcome Home and left empty handed.

    2. Calling addicts “students”
    Calling addicts students is a misnomer to justify “FREE LABOR” This people work very hard in the store for food and shelter under the guise of therapy. Those “students” work much harder than those you meet at grocery stores like Costco, Safeway, and Superstore.
    If you compare them to any “workers” in a grocery store, they would have been paid between $15 – $20/hour ($3000-$4000 a month) plus benefits. What do these students get for their work? Food and shelter in a work camp called “Welcome home.” The whole program is dependent on Peer counseling (no cost) and there is no significant “THERAPY” offered to them. Doesn’t this sound like manipulation of those most vulnerable?

    3. Graduates
    The program has been working for more than two years. You did not tell us how many “students” graduated from this program he had, and what happened to them.

    Were there really 25 graduates? What happened to those 25 graduates after leaving the Welcome Home? Did John tell you anything about them?

    Hard work is a mandatory component of recovery, but Mr. Volken is making profit from these students’ work, he should pay fair wages for those “students”. John should pay salary and benefits minus cost of accommodations. Giving the “students” accommodation in return for their work is not a fair deal.

    If you read the following articles, you will understand that he is after growing a BUSINESS disguised as a CHARITY.

    Stephanie Ryan: Surrey council shouldn’t ignore concerns about Welcome Home recovery home http://www.straight.com/article-261051/stephanie-ryan-surrey-council-shouldnt-ignore-concerns-about-welcome-home-recovery-home
    By Stephanie Ryan, October 1, 2009
    .
    Millionaire John Volken offers treatment to addicts
    http://www.straight.com/article-392664/vancouver/millionaire-john-volken-offers-treatment-addicts By Charlie Smith, May 12, 2011

  12. Laila says:

    ” Ryan” as I said, contact me via the contact page, confidential, and my reputation stands by that!

  13. Derek kilfoy says:

    My name is Derek ,I to attended welcome home in surrey.I stayed there for about 18 months,I did not grad as they call it. The programe did help me a bit,but in the long run it did more harm then good.The programe is shame base,and you would be punished for anything they thought was unaceptible,he called it learning experiances,If the group thought you had a bad attitude,you would get a learning experiance,even if you were not smiling while you were at work at price pro,you would get learning experiance.They say if you want to stay clean,then you have to change everything about yourself,but with out the proper help and guidance,most people are set up for failure,if you can not deal with some of your core isues then you are doomed,I found that out the hard way,and ended up relapsing.That program needs to have counclers and proper guidance.

    • Tanya says:

      Hello everyone, my name is Tanya & I sent my husband to Welcome Home & he described everything you are all describing, and I am not taking this lightly!! I will be hiring a lawyer & taking on the big guy himself! And I would appreciate all of your help & support!!

      • Laila says:

        I would encourage everyone who has a story to tell about Welcome Home to email me via the contact page – I have heard from several people who have had …interesting experiences there and plan a story shortly when my current project is finished.

        • josef says:

          We sent our son to Welcome Home just this September.He lasted two and a half weeks. I am shocked to read all these comments and to see the place still up and running. Why has it not gone further? Families are getting taken advantage of and by the way the intake fee is now $4, 875.00, it was all my savings. Tried to have a meeting with John after he picked the date and time, when we got there we were told he wasn’t coming. Nice! Didn’t get a dime back nor any of his belongings. I am interested in taking this further.

          • AndyRogers says:

            I am surprised that this person is still in operation, but that is Canada. He turned from a furniture salesman into running his own grocery store using free labour of people who need each dollar they can make. He has invested more than $99 million in his “charities” Can any tax expert explain how someone can evade taxes and other claims by putting his money in a family run charity? There is something fishy about that operation. Needs to be discovered.
            There are a couple of programs on CBC and globe TV where you can file a complaint with them and they would investigate them in a TV report. It might be worth your time to find out and expose this operation. YOu will save a lot of troubled people from being taken. if I find out about these two programs, i will let you know.

      • Derek kilfoy says:

        If you need more information on what really goes on in this so called recovery centre,I would be more then great full to help out in anyway.I hope your husband has found the help he needs to move on with his life,and enjoy life.

  14. Pingback: Residents near Surrey ice rink ‘fearful’ following hockey mom death | Vancity Buzz | Vancouver Events, News, Food, Lifestyle and More

  15. AndyRogers says:

    Hello everyone,
    If you have had a problem with Welcome Home, you should report it to CBC program called Go Public. They will investigate the problem on your behalf and report it on CBC program,The National.
    The page address is:
    CBC’s Go Public http://www.cbc.ca/thenational/indepthanalysis/gopublic/
    Also, you can also write to a program Consumer reporting on CTV. Their email address is:
    steeleonyourside@ctv.ca.
    Hope those who have been hurt by the Welcome Home get their day on Public TV :)
    All the best.

  16. AndyRogers says:

    I sent the following message to both addresses, please do the same. You might be able to get this place exposed and WE ALL find out what is true about it.
    There is a centre that claims treating drug addicts in Surrey. It is called welcome Home. However, there are many stories about that centre that deserves your investigation to protect the most vulnerable. It charges them $4,800 upfront, collect their welfare check from Social assistance and enslave them in the owner’s grocery store (Charity) for years without pay (they are fed and accommodated on the store premises). The Charity has a funny legal structure explained on the website address below.
    You can see more information about this fishy operation and stories about those who got burnt by the Welcome Home at:

    http://lailayuile.com/2009/10/05/welcome-home-facility-facility-for-addicts-and-court-ordered-offenders-not-welcome-in-my-old-neighbourhood/#comment-45855

    or a short address: http://goo.gl/xDIJKn.

    Please save these unfortunate people from their misery.

    Keep up the good work.
    Andy

  17. keith says:

    Dont forget to mention a few things.
    1. Most Students are not Canadian. He is selling that he is helping our community.. not true. Most of his current students are from the United States.
    2. For many years, there was no formally trained (educated) staff monitoring the progress. Peer to peer counselling.

    3.Furniture people help run the program..load of crap.

    4. Price pro is not a charity. It has a non profit status – cannot issue tax receipts. Reality is that these students work for a non profit.

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