Portage Keremeos at The Crossing celebrates its first graduates!

May 2, 2010

May 2, 2010 was a great day of celebration at The Crossing at Keremeos where the Portage program held its first recognition celebration! In the presence of family, staff, government representatives, members of the community and their peers, young residents were recognised for completing the residential phase of their drug addiction treatment and others were honoured for having maintained a positive lifestyle for one year.

“It has taken many years and the support of many community organisations to establish a Portage residential rehabilitation program at The Crossing at Keremeos in British Columbia,” said Peter Howlett, President of Portage. “I am extremely happy and proud to be celebrating our first anniversary here today, but even more so to be honouring these young people who have taken back control of their lives and now have bright, drug-free futures ahead of them.”

The Recognition Ceremony also celebrated graduates that completed their high school education while at Portage Academy, the on-site educational program at The Crossing at Keremeos. Many of the young people who come to the program seeking drug addiction therapy have lost faith in their academic abilities and some have left school altogether. At the Portage Academy, residents learn to develop new faith in their capabilities. Dedicated teachers, small classes and progressive techniques facilitate their academic experience. Where in the past these youth may have experienced failure and frustration, the Portage Academy encourages them to continue with their efforts in school. Teachers help students with special needs to earn high school credits and to develop the necessary learning skills to succeed once they have left the Portage Program.

“Portage Keremeos at The Crossing’ partnership with the Okanagan-Similkameen School District 53 has enabled us to provide residents with daily classes in math, science, English, social studies and physical education,” stated Peter Vamos, Executive Director at Portage. “Through their efforts at the Portage Academy, two of today’s graduates also received their British Columbia Dogwood Graduation Certificates. The program has been very successful so far and we hope to make it even more effective by increasing the teacher to resident ratio in the years to come”.

Representatives from Portage generously acknowledged that the program could never have opened at The Crossing if it were not for Central City Foundation, who provided leadership together with From Grief to Action from the beginning of the project. Central City Foundation also provided the magnificent 58-acre site and raised the $6.5 million capital and built the centre’s facilities. The presence of many of Central City Foundation’s directors at the Recognition Ceremony is a testament to its support and to the value of its partnership with Portage. To honour this relationship, Portage has established the Portage BC Adolescents Program Bursary honouring the Central City Foundation. This bursary will be presented every year at the Recognition Ceremony to support graduates in the pursuit of their studies. The first bursary was presented by John McLernon, Chair of the Portage BC Board, to Robert Boretta-McLeod and Sierra Dabous in recognition of their maturity, drive, perseverance and tenacity, and because they value education as a key to future success and continued sobriety.

A few of the graduates spoke at the Ceremony, presenting touching testimonials about their time at The Crossing and the impact that the experience has had on their lives. One proud mother witnessed the graduation of two of her daughters from the Portage Keremeos program at the ceremony today.

“Portage has been a gift for my family,” she said. “My girls were drawn into the world of addiction and unhealthy choices. When they began to realise they needed help, we found Portage. The centre gave them the time, space and the education to find themselves and to let go of the unhealthy patterns in their lives. I am filled with gratitude for this place and its caring staff. My girls now have the tools to create the lives they want and deserve”.

For more on the wonderful happenings at The Crossing at Keremeos we invite you to view the Portage video at http://vimeo.com/12972187