Board of Directors

House of Friendship relies on a volunteer Board of Directors made up of nine community members to oversee the vision and mission of the agency.  With their guidance, staff and volunteers serve our community. At the same time, the community provides ongoing input and feedback on local needs and services that staff shares with the Board of Directors to ensure House of Friendship’s vision, mission and services remain relevant and vital.

Most of us did not appreciate the importance of community interaction and support before experiencing the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have learned that being cut off from others contributes to emotional, physical, mental and economic challenges that can have long-term negative effects.

Imagine for a moment that social isolation was your norm, not an exception. Where would you be? How would you cope? Add to that the grinding hardship of issues such as poverty, food insecurity, addictions and/or homelessness. These are the people House of Friendship seeks to serve.

House of Friendship’s mission is to walk with those who need food, housing, community resources or addictions support to ensure that we build a community where everyone can belong and thrive. Every day our incredibly resilient and caring staff, as well as profoundly committed volunteers live out our mission with compassion, inclusion, justice, dignity and hope. I am humbled to offer my support to this exceptional agency, and grateful to you and others in our community, who make all of that possible.

Karen Bjerland, Board Chair


Karen Bjerland

Board Chair

Kevin Thaler


Keith Cressman

Past President

Eric Strassburger

Finance Committee Chair

Art Dyck

Art Dyck

Governance Committee Chair

Sandy Milne

Nominating Committee Chair

Mariah Blake

Board Member

Philip Holman

Board Member

Richard Manning

Richard Manning

Board Member

April Moore

Board Member

Alan Uffelman

Board Member

Buhr Legacy of Friendship

The Buhr Legacy of Friendship recipient is selected annually by House of Friendship’s Board of Directors. It recognizes those who espouse the values of House of Friendship and who have made a significant contribution to both House of Friendship and our community. The recognition  is given at the Annual Meeting.


The Buhr Legacy of Friendship is named in honour of Martin Buhr (previous Executive Director of House of Friendship), Pauline Buhr, and their family, who epitomize the values, service, and legacy of friendship of House of Friendship. This is a small step by the Board of Directors to recognize and honour the significant contributions that so many have made to support Waterloo Region’s most vulnerable residents.

Past Recipients

2023 – Neighbourhood Youth Leaders

This year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship (2023) recognizes Neighbourhood Youth Leaders who advance House of Friendship’s vision of creating a healthier community where everyone can belong and thrive by demonstrating our values of compassion, inclusion, justice, dignity, and hope.  In a season of life when teens face the daunting task of figuring out who they want to be and how they will get there, youth living on low income face extra barriers.  When these youth rise to the challenge, embrace their strengths and step into leadership roles in their own spheres of influence – whether at school, in their faith community, or in their own neighbourhood – they create a brighter future for themselves and those they help and inspire in the process!

In House of Friendship’s 84th year of service to this community, the Board of Directors recognizes Fredlyne Kayee, Abdulmajid Abdulmajid and Nate Caudle on behalf of all youth leaders in the communities we serve.  They bravely seek out and accept the challenge to lead their peers, share their voices, and inspire those who look up to them.  They find ways to overcome barriers and create programs and environments that help others.  They allow themselves and others to dream about and step into an inspiring future full of potential and opportunity.  They are leaders who are finding their platform and using it for good in their own neighbourhoods.

2022 – House of Friendship Staff

This year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship (2022) honours House of Friendship Staff. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, they have been steadfast in their commitment to live out the organization’s values of compassion, inclusion, justice, dignity and hope, with an unwavering dedication to continue walking alongside community members who were impacted by COVID-19 in some of the most significant ways.

In House of Friendship’ 83rd year of service to this community, we recognize and honour our team of staff who worked through overwhelming challenges and circumstances, who rose to the challenge and gave more of themselves than we thought possible, and demonstrated resilience, hope and compassion throughout. Their perseverance, tenacity, flexibility and visionary thinking is why so many community members continued to receive support in new and greater ways at a time when it was needed more than ever.  And it’s why – in the midst of a pandemic – significant progress, innovation and growth was achieved.  This team has reminded us all of how to remain “Stronger Together” even through the most challenging of times, as they stayed laser-focused on building a community where everyone can belong and thrive.

2021 – Employee Groups at Local Tech Companies

Employee groups of five local tech companies were recognized with this year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship at our virtual AGM.

This year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship (2021) honours employee groups of local tech companies who are supporting the mission of House of Friendship to make this a better community for everyone, living out our values of compassion, inclusion, justice, dignity and hope in very practical ways.  From volunteering for practical tasks like painting or gardening or building a shed or serving meals weekly at our men’s shelter, to bringing children from low- income communities into their tech space so they too can access STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) activities and inspire their bright minds, and consider a career in Tech.  They encourage and support our staff team, donate financially, and invest time to assist our neighbours who are vulnerable – all to help change the odds for those impacted by poverty.

In House of Friendship’s 82nd year of service to this community, on behalf of all employee groups of local Tech companies who live out our values in support of a better community for everyone, we recognize the employees of Vidyard, Brock Solutions, Axonify, Bonfire and Google.  In addition to their technical expertise and aptitude, they demonstrate hearts of care and compassion.  They look up to see the community around them and educate their teams on the issues the vulnerable in our community are facing.  They put that learning in to action by extending the hand of friendship to those in need.  Together, we seek to build a community where everyone can belong and thrive.

2019 – Citizen Groups

Dan Clements (centre) represented Citizens for Cambridge as recipients of this year’s Buhr Legacy at the AGM, with Executive Director John Neufeld and Board President Mary Friesen presenting the honour.

This year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship (2019) honours citizen groups who actively participate in strengthening and supporting those in need in our community to make it a healthy community where everyone can belong and thrive.  Advancing the mission of House of Friendship to walk-with those struggling with the effects of poverty or addiction, they live out our values of compassion, inclusion, justice, dignity and hope in very practical ways. Even when it’s difficult, they refuse to lose hope, choosing instead to see possibility and opportunity for a better future.  They ask “how can I help?” and become champions of hope for the individuals and families who need food, housing, addiction treatment, or access to vital community resources. In compassion, they lend their voices, hearts and hands to ensure that no one in our community goes without and that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone is treated with dignity.

In House of Friendship’s 80th year of service to this community, we recognize the members of the citizen group Citizens for Cambridge for their passion and dedication to this community, to those in need and to their own journey of personal growth.  In the midst of the very difficult opioid crisis, they choose to observe, listen, learn and grow – to be challenged and to challenge.  They stepped up to be part of the solution and choose to influence change by partnering with the systems and programs in place, inviting neighbours and friends to see new possibilities and creative solutions.  They choose to be purveyors of hope and extend the hand of friendship to those in need.

2018 – Service Clubs

This year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship honours service clubs who use their passion and strength to advocate for and support those in need in our community.  Advancing the mission of House of Friendship, they are champions for those who struggle by engaging a broad segment of our community to act. They provide hope to men, women, families and children who need food, shelter, addiction treatment, or access to vital community resources. These organizations lend their voice, hearts and hands to ensure that no one in our community goes without. The compassion at the heart of their work is the same compassion that inspired the original mission of House of Friendship when a group of women saw those in need and determined to lend a helping hand.

2017 – To All Those Walking the Road to Recovery from Addiction

This year’s Buhr Legacy of Friendship honours all of the individuals who so courageously walk the road to recovery from addiction. It is a difficult journey, a journey for the brave. Persevering through stigma, trauma and pain, individuals in recovery can go on to lead healthier and more productive lives, as vital contributors to a healthy community where all can Belong and Thrive. It is our hope that each individual who seeks addiction treatment receives a compassionate response that honours their dignity and guides them towards the hope that lies before them. These values are central to the work of House of Friendship (HOF).

In HOF’s 78th year of service to this community, we celebrate Steve, Damien, Greg and JP for their courage to fight their addiction and for their willingness to share their recovery journey with our community. By doing so, they are reducing the stigma around addiction, and are allowing healing conversations to unfold among families, friends and communities. To each of the more than 600 individuals who seek addiction treatment from HOF each year, we applaud your bravery!

2016 – Neighbourhood and Community Associations 

As we head into House of Friendship’s (HOF) 77th year of service to our community, we acknowledge and honour that healthy communities are built when everyone can belong and thrive.  This is key to HOF’s vision.  Neighbourhoods are central to an individual’s and families’ sense of belonging and ability to thrive.  Our neighbourhoods shape us and we shape them by contributing to each other’s lives.  It is our hope that everyone in our Region can be part of a neighbourhood where diversity is celebrated, and individuals feel connected, included, safe, and engaged.  Healthy and accessible neighbourhoods build belonging, community and resilience. In our Region we are fortunate to have over 60 community associations that strengthen our neighbourhoods.  We would like to honour the enormous contribution that these associations make to building healthy neighbourhoods in our community and present The Buhr Legacy of Friendship to Sunnydale Community Association and the Kingsdale Neighbourhood Association. We have a long standing relationship with these Associations and both represent the importance of neighbourhoods at the heart of belonging and thriving.

2015 – House of Friendship past-Presidents

The 2015 Buhr Legacy of Friendship was shared amongst all House of Friendship past-Presidents in honour of the dedication and service of House of Friendship Board Members through the years.


1 - Ilda Bauman2014 – Unsung Heroes

The 2014 Buhr Legacy of Friendship recognized the “unsung heroes,” who with great perseverance and humility served House of Friendship and our community during its first 75 years.

Ilda Bauman was recognized posthumously as representing these unsung heroes in House of Friendship’s history. Two of Ilda’s nieces, Sharon Reimer and Mary Lynn Dedels, and a nephew, Ken Bauman, accepted The Buhr Legacy of Friendship on Ilda Bauman’s behalf.

Ilda worked at House of Friendship from 1939 to October 1949 as a co-worker of Joseph Cramer, the founding Executive Director. She made hundreds of home and hospital visits, distributing books and thousands of pieces of literature in many languages, and helping with numerous worship services in the rented room. She also cooked meals for clients from donated food in a small adjoining kitchen. Ilda died in 1974

283HousFrAGM2013 – Local Farmers Who Support Those in Need of Food

The 2013 Buhr Legacy of Friendship was awarded to Local Farmers who Support Those in Need of Food.

Representing that special group of caring individuals were three generations of the Herrle family of Herrle’s Country Farm Market. “Part of our calling is to give back. You just do it,” explained Trevor Herrle.

IMG_1542b2012 – House of Friendship Executive Directors

At its 73rd Annual Meeting, House of Friendship announced that House of Friendship Executive Directors, as represented by Gerry and Sandra Vandeworp, were the recipients of the inaugural The Buhr Legacy of Friendship. Gerry, with Sandra at his side, served as Executive Director at House of Friendship, 1961 -1978, with devotion and was a respected champion of social justice; he was instrumental in the establishment of House of Friendship’s addiction treatment services and in transitioning House of Friendship into a social service agency.

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