By TONY MCLELLAN
This is the final part of a two-part series.
The first step to recovering from a debilitating addiction or serious mental condition is the courage and will to take the first step. Sadly, there is a persistent lack of confidence that affects many of those who would otherwise readily seek professional help to advance their positions in life. Enter Peering Your Peers, a local non-profit organization that focuses on delivering that first critical boost of self-esteem to the impoverished and homeless in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.
“The object of this business is to assist marginalized individuals and frontline organizations working with those individuals to actually get the recovery process going and to ensure that these individuals are not only receiving the services, but they’re also getting the mental and emotional impacts of these services as well,” said Randy Verdone, the man responsible for starting Peering Your Peers.
As someone who in past years struggled not only with addiction and mental health issues but homelessness as well, Verdone knows first-hand just how important the support and guidance of a relatable, experienced figure can be to a mentally ill or addicted individual. Peering Your Peers is a unique organization that differs noticeably from the typical counselling service. Instead of using a highly paid professional psychologist who might not have a first-person view of the troubles that he is trying to help his clients deal with, Verdone’s not-for-profit business is, at its core, the formerly unfortunate coaching the currently unfortunate.
At its base, Peering Your Peers focuses on the pre-rehabilitation stage in the mental healing of a marginalized individual.
“Pre-rehabilitation is basically helping clients get to the point where they feel they are “worth it” and that they can make things better, that life is not hopeless,” said Verdone. “Once they enter the proper mindset, then they can start the official counselling or rehab and actually get out of it what they have to get out of it.”
Peering Your Peers is located at 29-737 Doon Village Rd. and is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Randy Verdone can be reached by calling 226-988-2903 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.