From left to right

Newton’s drug recovery centre officially opens

Deepak Chopra among the notables at the official opening of Welcome Home on Friday morning

A major drug and alcohol recovery facility has officially opened in Newton with much fanfare.

On Friday, the $80-million John Volken Academy celebrated its official opening in the midst of local politicians and renowned Indian author and public speaker Deepak Chopra.

The Newton facility houses 40 men and women who are suffering from alcoholism and addiction and are committed to spending two years at the facility.

The organization boasts a plan to teach people how to become functioning members of society as they recover from addiction.

The facility is the brainchild of John Volken, who started a furniture chain called United Furniture Warehouse in 1980, and by 2001 had a company with $200 million in annual revenues.

Volken sold that and began his dream of philanthropy called Welcome Home.

He started with a 20-bed facility in Seattle and two small homes in Surrey.

Welcome Home has not always been so welcome at its 6869 King George Blvd. location.

Liz Walker, of the Newton Community Association, has said for years that the facility is poorly located.

She hasn’t changed her mind about that.

“I would have liked to have seen Welcome Home in an area that wasn’t so inundated with social services,” Walker said Thursday.

Volken, who is a recent recipient of the Dalai Lama’s Humanitarian Award, said he prefers getting his hands dirty rather than just giving money to causes.

It’s what fundraisers call “venture philanthropy,” a growing trend among business executives to exercise greater control over how their money is spent.

Volken also gets an emotional boost out of doing the work.

“I enjoy watching the progress,” Volken told The Leader when he was just getting started. “It’s not a sacrifice to me, I thank the heavenly God every day for the privilege of doing it.”


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