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Posted: May 23, 2019

“It all started with a little house on a hill.” That is Joan MacKinnon’s memory of how the organization that today is known as HomeBridge Youth Society started over 40 years ago.

Ms. MacKinnon worked in the Child Welfare System as Regional Administrator in the late seventies and was not content to just sit back and wait for problems to solve themselves.

“I was in a position to know where there were gaps in the system. We were having trouble finding places for teenage boys, mostly between 12 and 16 years of age,” she recalled. “Group homes were opening up for other populations, so I thought why can’t we have one for boys?”

She and a group of her colleagues, who were front line Social Workers, got together and decided it was time they created the change they wanted to see in the system. They started the process of getting all the requirements and paperwork in order to open up a group home including registering their organization as the Association for the Development of Children’s Residential Facilities. Ms. MacKinnon says the real challenge was finding a house to purchase that would suit their purposes, but they eventually found a property near Sullivan’s Pond in Dartmouth.

It was once a guest house so the size was right, but Ms. MacKinnon remembers it being more than a little run down. She put down $100 of her own money to hold the property until they could finalize the sale and then she and her colleagues, who eventually became the Board of Directors, got to work fixing it up.

 “It needed a lot of work, but it was wonderful,” she said. “The cooperation we had to get this done was just wonderful. People were scraping floors, hanging wall paper, painting and everything. It was a lot of fun.”

After formalizing the Board with Ms. MacKinnon as Chair and hiring staff, they opened Hawthorne House to its first residents in February of 1979. In the four decades that have passed since the organization’s modest start much has changed. The organization has grown to include six residential care facilities, an accredited school program and both arts and recreation based therapeutic, life-skills programs. Even the name changed from the Association for the Development of Children’s Residential Care Facilities to HomeBridge Youth Society. Allan Boucher, who has been a Youth Care Worker with the organization for 35 years, would suggest however that not everything has changed.

“What has stayed the same is the people,” he explained. “The people who come into this field are a special, caring breed of people. They are supportive and always there to help you through. No matter how many times we feel like we are hitting our heads against a brick wall, we hang in there and there is always someone there to offer support and listen to you when you need it.”

Executive Director, Ernie Hilton agrees that the heart of Youth Care Workers is one thing that has remained consistent.

“Then, as now, I loved the people,” he said.

The proficiency of Youth Care Workers in their practice, even in their first year, however he says has come a long way. Like Mr. Boucher, he started as a casual Youth Care Worker at Hawthorne House over 30 years ago with far less formal training than practitioners now have even in their first year of studies.

“I could not be more pleased at how we all have rose to the challenge of accepting excellence in practice as our bar of expectation,” he said. “It really is the best way to honour ourselves and the youth and families we are here to serve.”

Mr. Hilton estimates that the organization has served between five and six thousand young people since opening Hawthorne House in 1979. This is something that Ms. MacKinnon takes great pride in. She retired as Board Chair in 2000 after hiring the organization’s first Executive Director, but still keeps a close eye on the happenings in and around the HomeBridge Community.

“I look back so fondly (on opening Hawthorne House),” she said. “It really was a labour of love and it is definitely the thing I’m most proud of in my career. It all started with a little house on the hill and now it is something I never dreamed of. I wouldn’t have even had a clue it would go this far.”

Mr. Hilton hopes the organization continues to make Ms. MacKinnon proud as he continues to look forward to what more can be done to serve vulnerable youth in our province.

“HomeBridge has a capacity to offer so much more and I hope we get an opportunity in the time I have remaining as Executive Director to help bring that to fruition.”

May 11, 2020         HomeBridge AGM
April 27, 2020         A Different Orange Door
March 16, 2020         Response to COVID-19
March 6, 2020         Bridges for Learning Grows
February 25, 2020         Sullivan House Moves to an Exclusive Mandate
February 20, 2020         Cooking Toward Independence
January 15, 2020         Orange Door Impact
January 15, 2020         Holidays to Remember
December 18, 2019         Sweet Competition
December 9, 2019         Connected Through Technology
December 2, 2019         Holiday Coffee House
November 19, 2019         Going Once, Going Twice. . .Sold!
November 14, 2019         Holidays of Hope
November 14, 2019         Holiday Orange
October 3, 2019         Countdown to Auction
October 3, 2019         Bridges Over Water
September 18, 2019         Making Memories
September 13, 2019         Home Grown Employability Skills
September 13, 2019         Dream it, Imagine it, and Create it!
July 11, 2019         One Door at a Time
June 24, 2019         Like No Other
May 23, 2019         40 Years of History
May 7, 2019         Opening Orange Doors
May 2, 2019         Building Boats and Relationships
March 11, 2019         Save the Date!
February 27, 2019         March Break Activities
February 27, 2019         Hive Five
January 18, 2019         Orange Doors Open to Opportunities
January 8, 2019         Happy Holidays!
January 4, 2019         A HomeBridge Holiday Tradition
December 3, 2018         Kick off to the Holidays
November 20, 2018         Lessons Learned in a Wooden Boat
November 19, 2018         The Home Depot for the Holidays
November 16, 2018         Bidding for the Youth
October 9, 2018         Holidays of Hope
October 5, 2018         Auction Countdown
September 19, 2018         Making Memories
September 7, 2018         New Year, New Experiences
September 5, 2018         Farm Fresh Experience
August 14, 2018         Heroes in Orange
July 17, 2018         Film Festival Connection
July 11, 2018         Links of Love
June 28, 2018         Orange Doors Add Up!
June 20, 2018         AGM and Expressions Celebration
May 23, 2018         Orange Doors in June!
May 1, 2018         Safe Spaces and Relationships
May 1, 2018         Daily Life Events Training
March 15, 2018         150 Years of Belief and Blessings
March 12, 2018         Save the Date
March 12, 2018         March Break Fun!
February 21, 2018         More Than A Toque
January 26, 2018         Our Santa
January 3, 2018         Orange Doors Keep Opening
December 18, 2017         Santa's Den
December 4, 2017         Raising the Roof
December 1, 2017         Holiday Coffee House
December 1, 2017         Goal Achieved!
November 7, 2017         Holiday Orange
November 7, 2017         Community Clean Up
October 19, 2017         Meaningful Change
October 19, 2017         Holidays of Hope
September 20, 2017         Summer Adventures
September 12, 2017         The Auction is LIVE!
August 29, 2017         Youth Farmers' Market
July 17, 2017         Small Doors, Big Impact!
June 29, 2017         Mental Health and Addictions Support
June 27, 2017         Team Depot
June 21, 2017         Chapters FUNdraiser
June 16, 2017         AGM & Expressions Celebration
June 2, 2017         Chapters FUNdraiser
May 9, 2017         Orange Doors are Opening
March 8, 2017         Save the Date!
March 8, 2017         March Break Programming
March 8, 2017         A Different Classroom
January 12, 2017         Holiday Magic
December 8, 2016         Tis the Season
November 28, 2016         Bidding for the Kids!
November 22, 2016         Holidays of Hope
November 22, 2016         Holiday Coffee House
November 2, 2016         Community Clean Up
October 19, 2016         It's Auction Time!
October 19, 2016         Orange Door Results
September 22, 2016         Team Depot
September 13, 2016         Discovering Talent
August 22, 2016         Run for Youth
August 22, 2016         Orange Door Campaign
June 21, 2016         Not Your Typical AGM
May 27, 2016         Orange Door Project Postponed
May 13, 2016         Save the Date!
May 3, 2016         Run for Youth
April 28, 2016         The Last Laugh
April 8, 2016         Ad for Ha Ha's
March 10, 2016         National Child and Youth Care Conference
February 22, 2016         Ha Ha's for HomeBridge
January 28, 2016         Cooking with Love
January 28, 2016         Distance Training at HomeBridge
January 13, 2016         Holiday Spirit
December 9, 2015         New Executive Director
December 8, 2015         Employability Skills
November 26, 2015         Record Breaking Auction!
November 16, 2015         Holidays of Hope
November 11, 2015         100 Men Who Give a Damn! - Halifax
November 11, 2015         The Online Auction Is LIVE!
October 29, 2015         Online Auction Countdown!
October 7, 2015         Community Clean Up
October 7, 2015         Zombie Support HomeBridge
September 28, 2015         Apple Market
September 17, 2015         Zombie Trail Run
September 16, 2015         Back to Class
September 11, 2015         Summer Fun
September 11, 2015         Youth Farmers Market
September 11, 2015         Mindful Creations
July 29, 2015         Expressions Program in the News
July 8, 2015         Orange Door Success
June 10, 2015         AGM & Expressions Celebration
June 2, 2015         Moments that Matter
May 25, 2015         AGM & Expressions Celebration 2015
May 12, 2015         Orange Door Campaign
April 27, 2015         Laughing for the Youth
March 25, 2015         Executive Director
March 19, 2015         Learning Important Future Tools
March 19, 2015         2015 California Wine Fair
February 5, 2015         Ha Ha's for HomeBridge
January 6, 2015         Holiday Magic
December 15, 2014         Holiday Festivities
December 2, 2014         Holiday Coffee House
December 2, 2014         Paying It Forward
November 28, 2014         Auction Success
November 14, 2014         Holidays of Hope
October 1, 2014         Successful Zombie Run
September 8, 2014         Zombie Trail Run
September 8, 2014         The Countdown is on!
August 28, 2014         Young Entrepreneurs
August 21, 2014         Creativity is Contagious!
July 31, 2014         Youth Farmers Market
July 10, 2014         The Orange Door Project
June 19, 2014         Inspired by the Youth
June 4, 2014         LIFT - Learning Important Future Tools
June 3, 2014         AGM & Expressions Celebration
May 28, 2014         "ReMoved" An Incredible film by Nathanael Matanick
May 26, 2014         Orange Door Project
April 28, 2014         Another Successful Ha Ha's
February 12, 2014         Food Fridays
February 11, 2014         Ha Ha's for HomeBridge Returns!
January 13, 2014         Holidays of Hope
December 5, 2013         Holiday Coffee House
December 5, 2013         Auction Raises over $7,500
December 5, 2013         Exciting New Additions
December 5, 2013         Mental Health First Aid Training
November 6, 2013         Youth Community Clean-Up
October 24, 2013         Case Management Coordinator Honoured
October 23, 2013         Hawthorne House Open House and Celebration
September 5, 2013         Holidays of Hope
September 3, 2013         Fundraising Auction Coming Soon!
September 3, 2013         The Expressions Program of the Arts
September 3, 2013         Hawthorne House Open House and Celebration
June 24, 2013         The Youth Stole the Show
May 16, 2013         It`s Show Time!
May 10, 2013         RBC Makes Dinner
April 26, 2013         Hawthorne House Complete!
April 26, 2013         Ha Ha's for HomeBridge
April 5, 2013         Hawthorne House in the News
March 11, 2013         HomeBridge Employees Train in the Art of Tai Chi
March 11, 2013         HomeBridge and IWK/CHOICES Program
March 11, 2013         The Hawthorne House Renovation Project Nears the Finish Line!
February 20, 2013         Ha Ha's for HomeBridge Returns!
January 24, 2013         Bowling for Hawthorne House
January 4, 2013         Hawthorne House Campaign in the News
January 3, 2013         Holidays of Hope
November 29, 2012         HomeBridge Online Auction Raises over $4,500!
November 29, 2012         Atlantic Business Ethics Awards Raise over $4,300!
November 29, 2012         We're 75% of the Way to our Goal!
October 30, 2012         Past Chair Receives Award of Merit
October 23, 2012         Hawthorne House PSA
October 17, 2012         Holidays of Hope
September 19, 2012         Breaking Ground at Hawthorne House
August 30, 2012         The Buskers Come to HomeBridge!
July 20, 2012         Swimming Home for HomeBridge Raises over $9,000
June 20, 2012         The Gordon Foundation for Children and Youth Honours Linda Wilson with Their Service Recognition Award
June 18, 2012         Belief and Blessings 1982-2012
June 12, 2012         Hawthorne House needs your support
June 6, 2012         Bridges for Learning Teacher wins Faculty of Arts Excellence in Teaching Award!
May 24, 2012         Linda Wilson Featured in Bluteau DeVenney & Company's E-zine
May 23, 2012         Everyone Has a Talent to Share!
April 30, 2012         Ha Ha's for HomeBridge Raises over $5,000 for Hawthorne House!
March 12, 2012         The Gordon Foundation for Children and Youth fund
March 5, 2012         HomeBridge Partners with IWK/Choices
March 5, 2012         HomeBridge continues to improve the educational experience of youth-in-care
January 10, 2012         Holidays of Hope
December 6, 2011         Coffee House
November 28, 2011         2011 Business Ethics Awards
September 6, 2011         Back to Class
September 6, 2011         What I Did on my Summer Vacation
September 6, 2011         Free To Be Me
September 6, 2011         Back to Class
June 14, 2011         Adopt-A-Library Program
June 7, 2011         Youth Community Clean Up
June 6, 2011         It's Showtime!
June 6, 2011         HomeBridge Congratulates the Halifax-Cornwallis Progress Club
November 29, 2010         HomeBridge Honoured
October 12, 2010         HomeBridge Chosen as National Site for Youth Stop Smoking Project
October 12, 2010         Telus and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage Support the Expressions Program of the Arts
September 14, 2010         HomeBridge Accepted into Imagine Canada's Ethical Code Program
September 7, 2010         Youth Stop Smoking Project
May 4, 2010         Exploring Possibilities
April 6, 2010         Dalhousie Medical Student Society Supports Hawthorne House
February 2, 2010         Discovering Food

HomeBridge AGM
May 11, 2020 - HomeBridge is known for holding an event every June that is “not your typical AGM”. This year, due to the COVID-19 situation in our province, filling a theatre with our supporters and fri...
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