The Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association met in Brandon on October 15-16 for the 6th Annual Building Partnerships Conference. It was at this conference that The Spirit of Housing Awards were handed out to community members who have shown leadership in the pursuit of non-profit housing.
One of the four awards given out was the Harry Lehotsky Spirit of Leadership Award. This award honours the memory of Harry Lehotsky, a long time champion and advocate of housing. It is given to a person in our community whose energy and vision has contributed a lasting legacy to the cause of non-profit housing in Manitoba.
The award was presented to Eden Health Care Services’ recently retired CEO, James Friesen. His record of contribution to the work of housing began in 1981 as staff with Eden’s Housing Program of which he later became director. Then in 2001 as Director of Development at Eden Foundation where he developed successful community engagement events with the goal of bringing hope, healing and community to those on a mental health journey.
In 2008 James took on the role of Chief Executive Office of Eden Health Care Services and strengthening relationships with provincial partners, bringing sustainability to the organization and transitioning it into a multifaceted, wrap-around service supporting people on a mental health journey.
During his tenure as CEO, housing developments were completed in Steinbach (Wilson Courts) and in Winnipeg (Concordia Village IV). Eden housing and Supports were presented the CMHC Best Practices in Affordable Housing Award in 2008, recognizing community engagement in the design of Penfeld Courts.
These partnerships have provided not only affordable housing but access to mental health support services to individuals who need them. As a result, James is respected and well recognized in both the Mental Health community but also in the affordable and social housing sectors.
Early on, James was a part of the MNPHA board and provided great insight and direction until his retirement in 2017.
The entire Eden organization congratulates James on this well-deserved acknowledgement for his many years of service in championing the cause of quality affordable housing as well as for his work to bring hope, healing and community to those on a mental health journey.