Portage's Beaconsfield drug rehabilitation centre opened its doors in 2001 and has so far helped 1,200 troubled youth obtain their high school diploma while getting rid of their addictions.
This year, the parent-organization, Portage, turns 40 years old. This was celebrated at the organization’s first centre in Prévost near Lac Écho in the Laurentian. Over 300 people were in attendance from other centres and offices across Quebec. Former residents from every decade gave speeches to the crowd.
In 40 years of existence, the organization has grown into multiple treatment centres in Quebec as well as additional centres in New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia. From 30 to 40,000 teens have been treated by Portage facilities since 1973 but that is only part of the organization's activities as there are treatment programs for adults as well.
Beaconsfield facility director Allan Farkas has worked for Portage for 26 years and has been at the West Island facility since day one. He feels pride in the accomplishments the organization has come up with, especially the partnerships he has been able to establish in the West Island community since 2001.
“We're very established in the community servicing young people in the West Island. We have a great relationship with Lester B. Pearson School Board. All of our teacher come from there. We also do some prevention with them. We also partner with Montreal police Station 1. The kids volunteer with the Beaconsfield Coop where they help the seniors. We also work with the Impact program of the local YMCA,” he said last Friday.
Eighteen-year-old Lily Sayegh from Notre-Dame-de-Grace has been at Portage for almost six months now. She came as a result of a difficult life at home, one of self-loathing and sorrow and addiction to methamphetamine, speed and codeine. The strict rules of the organization really help put her life back on track and she is testament that the system in place works.
“This place isn't just about getting sober. All these rules are ways to not only keep your life organized at home but it's also to teach you how to keep your job, how to remain organized when you're going to school. Also, how to manage your relationships. It's so much more than just being sober,” she said.
Emery Teshiera is yet another proof that Portage is a success as a whole. He has been clinical senior staff counsellor for 2 years now but he had worked for Portage seven years in the nineties. He is a former drug addict himself and speaks from the heart when he talks to the youngsters who do the six-month rehabilitation program.
"When I speak to them, I'm speaking to myself too. I did a program when I was 38 years old. At that time I was fed up with the life. But these kids apparently, they probably think that they can still fool around for the next few years because they are young. When I was their age, I was doing similar stuff, even worse. So it's really difficult at times to get them to buy in but eventually they come around, some quicker than others but it is a challenge," he said.