The goal at Harvest House is not only to teach men how to attain sobriety, but also how to participate as productive members of the community. Ranging from daily chores to supervisory work as a senior resident, the skills development component of the program teaches residents the importance of developing new skills, working hard, being punctual, managing responsibilities, and acting professionally. For instance, residents participate in the day-to-day tasks associated with running and maintaining the main facility, such as cleaning their living spaces, assisting in meal preparation, serving at meal-times, and cutting the grass. Through everyday tasks, residents develop positive habits and life skills that prepare them to live independently.
Harvest House also offers residents the opportunity to gain more formal work skills and experience. Among other things, residents participate in fundraising sales in the phone room and woodworking at our woodshop. As they progress in the program, senior residents take on more responsibility and move on to more specific training, such as counsellor-in-training roles, administrative work, and supervision of house activities.
The purpose of these activities is to provide residents with professional skills that will improve their chances of employment later in life. The skills development program models a professional work environment. For example, residents who work in the phone room or the administration office are encouraged to dress professionally. Since many of the men who come to the program do not have any professional attire with them, Harvest House has a “suit room”, supported by generous donations from Moore’s and community members, where residents can pick out and keep the suits and dress clothes that they need.
Skills development is central to the Harvest House program. It is not so much a separate part of the program as it is a practice that is built into residents’ daily lives. Through daily participation in skills development activities, residents not only gain employable skills and contribute to the daily operation of Harvest House, but also develop confidence as they discover their own abilities and talents in various areas.