Our History
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When Jim and Kay Ryan met Father Paul Charbonneau in Emeryville at his parish the history of Brentwood began. Jim and Kay worked with Father Paul to make Brentwood become a reality.

In 1964 a group of Father Paul Charbonneau, Jim and Kay Ryan, seven men, and $35.00 rented a vacant restaurant on the corner of Wyandotte St. E. and Chilver Road, Windsor, ON to start Charity House. After a short period of time they realized that they needed a bigger place. Jim and Kay Ryan believed in what Father Paul was doing so they sold their home and used the money to purchase a building behind Peerless Ice Cream Parlor in Old Walkerville which became Charity House. Jim and Kay would dedicate their lives to the running and maintaining of Brentwood so they moved into an apartment in Charity House in order to help Father Paul.


Charity House

In 1964, a government task force determined that places like Windsor - where there was a high incidence of drinking-related crimes - should have a recovery home. Father Ken Jaggs asked Fr. Paul Charbonneau if he would run the recovery home and Fr. Paul accepted. The $5,000.00 deposit was laughed at but funds to buy the Sandwich street home that would become Brentwood came from a perfectly timed intervention of a friend in Ottawa who knew of a group that allocated funds to just such community organizations.

After a lot of hard work, September 1, 1974, St. Joseph House of Studies, 3020 Sandwich Street was bought and renamed Brentwood, a recovery home for male alcoholics only, with a 20-30 bed capacity. The name Charity House, where the homeless were fed and cared for, did not attract the alcoholic so the name was changed to Brentwood and still stands today.

As the program grew Fr. Paul leased St. Hubert's School in South Windsor for $1.00 a year to hold meetings in the daytime and return to Brentwood at night for the next two years. In 1983, River Canard K. of C. donated a bus to transport residents from the Sandwich home to St. Hubert's School.

St. Hubert's School in South Windsor

In the 1980's Brentwood really took off. Once again the demand made it necessary to make another move. In October 1983 the old Elmwood casino, located at 2335 Dougall Avenue became available for sale. It had been closed for years and was in great despair with windows smashed, electrical stripped and entire walls missing. From November 1983 until July 17, 1984, many people worked, unpaid, remodeling until the opening of Brentwood, 2335 Dougall Avenue, Windsor, ON, which is still our home today.


In 1975 a Women's Support meeting started run by Fr. Paul. The disease of alcoholism had affected the women in these men's lives also and they needed just as much help as the alcoholic.

In 1977 the Youth Group started for children ages 9 to 18. Alcoholism is a family disease and it needed to be made available to the children of the alcoholic also. In 1983, the Youth Group was restructured for children ages 7 to 15.

In 1984, Father Paul was approached by the County School Boards to ask if Brentwood people would go into the schools and talk to the students in Grades 7 and 8 about their experiences with alcohol and drugs. It was very successful and is still in place today.

On February 26, 1985, the first alcoholic woman entered Brentwood and after consultation with Fr. Paul was allowed to attend meetings accompanied by Kay Ryan. In the beginning the empty house on Sandwich Street was used as the women's residence, starting with 20 beds. After a year the decision was made to move the women to Dougall Avenue and place them in the front bedrooms of the building. Kay Ryan worked with the women for the first three years.

Today the Program women are located in the Kay Ryan Residence for Women building which was added to the property in 1995 at the front of the property. After 23 years Kay Ryan retired in April 1988 and the Women's Program was put in capable hands. Kay continued passing along her wisdom and guidance to the women when needed until her passing on November 18,2013.

Kay Ryan Centre for Women

At the tail-end of 1985, Father Paul Charbonneau passed the Women's Support Meetings over to his brother alumni Father Robert Charbonneau. After years of leadership Fr. Bob had to retire from this job. For a few years alumni Staff led the Women's Support until it fell into the capable hands of Maril Reaume, Women's Resident Counsellor. Maril is still leading these two groups to this day. Also Father Bob Charbonneau had been given the job of keeping track of all our Brentwood participants from entry into the program, becoming alumni and their active and volunteer participation throughout their lives until their obituaries appeared in the newspaper. He was diligent at this job for thirty years until his passing on September 17, 2013. His job was then passed into capable hands.

The Jim Ryan Pavilion was built in 2001. This pavilion was to provide shelter when outdoor dance and BBQ's, Pig roast, or our annual Yard Sale are held. It was named in honor of Jim Ryan who was one of our co-founders. Jim worked at Brentwood until he passed away on May 28, 2006.

Jim Ryan Pavilion

The first Retreat was held in Port Burwell, ON, with six people in attendance. In 2005, a Retreat was held at Brentwood in Windsor, ON with over 350 people in attendance.

In 2005, Father Paul Charbonneau retired and passed on the position of Executive director to Don Russell MSW. RSW. CACII.

Although we had been forced to close the Adolescent Program several years earlier, Father Paul always believed that our Youth were "falling through the cracks". In 2009 it was brought back as a pilot program under the guidance of Don Russell with Wayne Brosseau working with the male adolescents. In May of 2011 Mara Alexander MSW. CACII was hired to partner with Wayne as the heads of the Adolescent Program so it could be available to both male and female clients.

In accordance with our Strategic Plan, the Board of Directors sets aside time for Succession Planning Consultations at each Board Meeting. When Don Russell informed the Board of his plan to step down, the plan was intensified. As a result of the collaborative efforts of Don Russell and the Board of Directors, it was decided unanimously that Dan Soulliere LL.B. CACII was the best candidate to lead Brentwood as its next Executive Director.

Dan Soulliere has been an alumnus in good standing since 1980 and remained active at Brentwood throughout the years. During that time he worked with Father Paul Charbonneau for a number of years as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Brentwood. Dan was a practicing lawyer in Windsor until his retirement in 2008. In 2012, Dan Soulliere graciously accepted the position of Executive Director and is still guiding us in that position today.





 

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