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Ron finds healing in the garden


During the spring, summer and fall, Ron is a regular fixture in an Ottawa neighbourhood where he tends to the yards of almost every house on the block.

Ron owns a landscaping company, but it isn’t your average landscaping company. His business is all about building relationships, connecting with the community, and healing. By helping living things grow, working with his hands and spending time with nature, Ron is able to manage his addiction.

The ARCHES program at the John Howard Society uses a supportive employment approach to help people with mental health and addictions challenges find employment. In Ron’s case, he was looking for something seasonal to keep him busy over the winter until he could return to his landscaping passion in the spring.

I find when I’m having a really bad day or I have the craving for an addiction where I want to drink, I take all the negative energy, all the hurt and all the anger, and I put it into the soil.

The ARCHES program helped Ron strengthen his resume and find a job that was the right fit, while offering constant support to help him manage his challenges with addiction. Now, he does snow removal work over the winter, and runs the landscaping business that he’s passionate about throughout the rest of the year.

In fact, Ron’s landscaping business has been so successful that he hopes to hire clients of the ARCHES program to work with him and grow the company even further in the spring.

Whether it’s supporting one-on-one counselling, peer support, crisis phone lines or supportive employment models like ARCHES, United Way and our partners ensure people with mental health or addictions challenges can find the help they need.




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