What We Do

Reception House supports Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) during their first year here in Waterloo Region to give them a Warm Welcome and help them thrive in their new lives. We do this by providing a variety of programs and services designed to provide a complete circle of settlement support. This is especially important as our clients often have more complex needs than other types of immigrants and newcomers. We work hard every day, 365 days of the year, to help our clients adjust and transition to life in a new country and successfully settle into their new community.

Reception House is an amazing place that truly helps refugees! I came here when I was 7 years old with my family. All the resources that my family and I received were a blessing.

Laura Rodriguez

Former Reception House client

Settlement Support

Helping newcomers settle in Waterloo Region starts as soon as they arrive in Canada. From there, they are brought to Reception House’s temporary accommodation at 101 David St. in downtown Kitchener. Those first few days after travelling are packed to the brim with essential orientations and information to get them acclimatized to their interim living arrangements. For the next few months, we assist them with their immediate settlement needs, help them permanent housing, and access the local education system. At this point, they are connected with one of our Case Managers, who connect them to all the resources and services in our Region they’ll need to become fully self-sufficient in their new community.


Health & Wellness

Our clients are often among our community’s most vulnerable, with many having serious medical or mental health needs. That’s why we provide assistance to get them the help they need, when they need. To do this, we provide health screenings and orientations, as well as help navigating local health systems. We also have in-house support and programming for mental health needs. Through the Refugee Health Clinic, a joint initiative between Reception House and the Centre for Family Medicine, we are able to provide all Reception House clients with the opportunity to see a physician within one week of their arrival in Canada.


Working Together Employment Program

The Working Together Employment Program is a unique research-based initiative to enable our newcomers to successfully obtain and retain employment. The project was launched in August of 2018 to address both employment and language related needs. By delivering tailor-made language and vocational skills training directly on the job site, we are able to create smoother pathways to employment for refugees who are job ready.


Youth Services

In 2016, 68% of the refugees we served were youth under 18 years of age. While adolescence can be a turbulent time for anyone, refugee youth face a number of challenges that their Canadian peers do not. After arriving in Canada, refugee youth often struggle to learn a new language, navigate a new educational system, make new friends, and balance conflicting cultural expectations. In addition, refugee youth, whose pre-immigration experiences often involve trauma, frequently face many mental health issues – ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to higher levels of depression complicated by the socio-economic and cultural challenges of resettlement. At Reception House, we provide a number of youth-focused programs and services to make this transition easier.


Social Integration Programs

After more than 30 years of working with Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs), we know it takes an engaged community to help newcomers successfully integrate into Waterloo Region. That’s why we offer all kinds of different programs to help newcomers build friendships and cross-cultural understanding. Our Family Partnership program helps our families build friendships and feel a sense of belonging. Meanwhile, our English Outreach program helps individuals unable to attend class still continue to improve their English skills. We have also formed strong partnerships to offer unique initiatives at our temporary accommodation, including the Art with Pamela and Focus on New Beginnings programs. Through these efforts, we aim to provide a blend of valuable language skills, fun, and self-care for our families so they can connect with the community and begin to build a sense of belonging.