House of Hesed

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The House of Hesed is a harbour of love


The House of Hesed is a harbour of love

It’s just another old house on Langside. Doesn’t look much different than any of the other homes on the street. But the second you walk through the front door, you know you’ve stepped into a little bit of Heaven right here on Earth.

It’s called House of Hesed, and here’s the letter that got me there:

Dear Laurie…, My name is Maresa, I work at the ‘House of Hesed’, an AIDS transition house. We have been in operation for over two years and have cared for about 20 people in various stages of the disease.

We are a non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization established in response to the needs of people living with HIV … the only organization of this type in Manitoba.

We have housed prostitutes, substance abusers, gang-members, ex-convicts, and so on. We’d like to be better known so other people can access our resources. The staff and residents are all happy to share information and stories with you if you are interested.”

I was definitely interested and so I made an appointment, and dropped in.

Smiling faces and friendly people (both staff and residents) greeted me at the door. I joined a few of the crew around the dining room table, was handed a cup of coffee and listened to resident Randy Hill’s story. After contracting HIV through intravenous drug use at age 17, Randy and his then girlfriend (later wife) had four children, finally breaking up when he went public with his illness through a desire to help others. None of the kids are HIV positive.

Admittedly, he is not proud of the way he conducted his life up until couple of years ago. It included being convicted for petty theft and fraud. He finally reached the point where he was alone, broke, ashamed of his behaviour and wanted to “turn his life around.”

“I wanted to give something back to the community, instead of always taking.”

A counsellor suggested he call Moe Feakes at the House of Hesed.

The guy who sounded so desperate, scared and lonely when he first talked to Moe is now healthier than he’s been in years. He enjoys the companionship and love of the staff and his fellow residents at Hesed and speaks to anyone who will listen (schools, etc.) regarding awareness of behaviour that puts people at risk of contracting HIV.

He is, indeed, a changed man.

But perhaps one of the most moving stories I heard yesterday told of a recently deceased resident we’ll call Fred. Before he discovered Hesed, Fred lived in total poverty and squalor in a Winnipeg apartment building, the hallways littered with needles and garbage. Unable to care for himself properly, his limited resources resulted in his going hungry much of the time. He was basically just waiting to die a lonely, depressing death.

Fortunately a connection was made with Hesed, and he moved in shortly thereafter. Moe remembers sitting at the table with Fred one day when suddenly tears filled Fred’s eyes and he said: “I’m just so thankful that God enabled me to spend the last few months of my life here. This is the first family I’ve had in 20 years.”

There are many other stories equally as touching. Wish I had room to share them all with you.

By the way, should you or someone you know be in need of the type of support enjoyed by Fred and other residents past and present, you’re welcome to call Hesed at 772-4793. They’ll do the best they can for you.

There is, however, one rather urgent need at Hesed that can’t be solved from within, and that is the need for funding. Because they do not receive government help, their goal is to maintain independence based on donations from the community, particularly the Christian community.

If you or your organization could help with a donation, perhaps ongoing support, they’d really appreciate hearing from you. Just ask for Maresa or Moe at the above number.

Where better to invest than a place that gives the most important Christmas gift of all … the gift love.

A miraculous house, indeed. God bless them, every one.

December 2000
Laurie Mustard
Winnipeg Sun