Fort Saskatchewan's Families First Society received a generous donation from a local resident.

The Raymond James Canada Foundation (RJCF) and Steve Switzer donated a total of $72,000 to help the society with their Healing Homes project.

Switzer has helped with Healing Homes before, he had even pitched the idea to Families First Society back in late 2021, with the help of his friend Mike Hankirk.

At first, the two had the idea of creating a women's shelter in Fort Saskatchewan, but Families First suggested they create second-stage housing instead.

"After 30 days of being in an emergency shelter, most abuse victims end up having to go back to that environment if there's nowhere else to go," said Switzer. "A lot of people don't have family or friends they can live with."

Healing Homes were created so residents will have time to work on goals that build stability, including finding housing, employment, and education.

Switzer understands the importance of helping people escape abusive situations, as he is a survivor of domestic violence himself.

"I was very young, and my dad had some alcohol issues, and it never really got better for us," said Switzer. "One night when I was a young little guy, they had a party. My mom wasn't very happy with the situation, and he ended up abusing her, and I got to witness that."

"We were on welfare right after, and every time my mom made money, welfare took it away from her. She couldn't even get a car or anything, so how do you get back on your feet?"

Since opening Healing Homes in March, both vacancies in the home have already been filled. Switzer hopes that with the support of other partnerships, Families First can create more places for domestic abuse survivors to get back on their feet.

"Those are the professionals that know how to help these folks get in a better spot. That's not what my forte is," said Switzer. "If I can help them help those people, and support them emotionally and financially, I think everyone will be in a much better spot, and there's nothing more rewarding in the world."