Since its inception in 1986, Watari Counselling & Support Services Society has impacted the lives of thousands of at-risk children, youth, their families and communities in the Downtown Eastside and the Greater Vancouver/Richmond areas.

Watch some of the positive impacts of the Community Garden & our Food Security Program!

Success Stories

***Please note all names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support.***
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It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to work alongside young people who have done some serious hard work prior to finding their way to Transitioning to Independence Program (now called YEAH!). Angela is a good example of how dedication to change can become a reality.
Angela comes from a family with significant mental health and substance misuse obstacles. Many family members are homeless or have passed on due to substance misuse related illness.


Youth arrived in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES) from Saskatchewan and when outreach first had contact, youth reported to be a 21 year old, First Nations woman. While Watari’s Eastside Integrated Youth Outreach Team was relationship-building with youth it was found out that she was 17 years old. When in the DTES, youth stayed at several different places; with boyfriends in Single Room Occupancies (SRO) and finally with her brother in the Regent Hotel.
After breaking up with one of her boyfriends, youth was upset and stated that she would maybe like to go and stay with her father in Calgary. Our Outreach Team ran with that and encouraged youth to go into MCFD Vancouver Youth Services to see about getting repatriated to Calgary.


A few years ago we met a young First Nations woman who was 30 years old.
Anna had been an active drug user, survival sex trade worker and a member of our community around the corner of Hastings Street and Campbell Avenue since early childhood. Many of our staff would see her standing on the corner trying to pick up a trick or sometimes flailing from the effects of the drugs she had consumed. All of us would encourage her to come up to our office for nutrition , less revealing clothing or just a safe place to sit and have a coffee away from the rigors of the street.


Watari’s S.T.A.R (Stop Think Assess Respond) Program for Kids has had many successful experiences teaching in schools around Greater Vancouver. One experience that stands recently is about a student who approached them after one of their sessions. She came to the S.T.A.R team asking for help and support around a friend that had recently started using substances.


In late April 2011, a 29 year old male was arrested on a ‘Theft Under’ charge and placed in custody at Downtown Community Court (DCC). Information collected from the police report and his lawyer identified this client as a suitable referral to Watari’s Vancouver Intensive Supervision Unit (VISU) as part of his Bail release. Further interview and collaterals revealed the subject to suffer from schizophrenia, active drug use, and the stress of potential homelessness.


I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my experience since the first moment I came to Watari Counselling & Support Services. My name is Manuel, I am 56 years old originally from Mexico. I don’t exactly remember who referred me to Watari, but I am sure now it was the exact place and referral I needed.
I don’t remember because my health was in pretty bad shape. Those days I was feeling very depressed, sad, and lifeless. I had just gone through a divorce, had no hope, and a lot of it also had to with my way of drinking; my alcoholism. I was feeling completely dejected. But I went to Watari. God put me in the hands of a lady by the name of Ingrid Méndez at Watari’s L’Huerta Communal.
We hope these success stories will inspire you to reach out to us if you, or someone you know, could benefit from Watari’s programs.


“The STAR presenters leave our students with not only a comprehensive handbook on drugs and alcohol, they empower them to problem solve real life situations. These skills and content information are invaluable for our grade sevens transitioning into high school… The STAR outreach program is absolutely essential for teens of the 21st century!”

-Thunderbird Elementary School

“[Without the financial support I get from the program], I wouldn’t have a place to live because I cannot afford it.”

-YEAH parenting program participant
Inspired by what you see? Find the program that works best for you or your loved one! Or contact us to learn more!