Welcome to The Vitanova Foundation
The Vitanova Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation chartered by the Province of Ontario and a registered Canadian charity that provides a range of addiction-related services to individuals, families and the community at large—all at no charge. We are a client-centered agency, focused on addiction recovery—restoring the individual’s potential as a valued member of a fully-functioning family and a net contributor to the community.
Vitanova is accredited by the Canadian Centre for Accreditation.
Founded in 1987 by Dr. Franca Damiani Carella, Vitanova offers a full day-program that includes treatment and rehabilitation—for alcohol and drug abuse, gambling addictions and anger management, as well as hands-on life skills training. Upon successful completion of our day program, clients participate in our eighteen-month-long aftercare program, to ensure that the recovery they have achieved is sustained over time.
In addition, we maintain an on-site domiciliary shelter for clients who are otherwise homeless, but are participating in our day program.
Lastly, we provide support to our clients’ family members and significant others. Such support is also available to family and friends of those who don’t seek our help.
“…helping put lives back together again.”
A healthy community—one made up of individuals and families of every background, empowered to live, work and enjoy life to the fullest, with esteem for themselves and respect for others.
Diversity—every sort of person is welcome
Inclusivity—everyone who comes is encouraged to participate in meaningful ways
Equity—everyone is treated fairly
Professionalism—everyone is treated objectively and with respect
Accountability—confidentiality is respected, decisions are responsible and transparent
Collaboration—teamwork is valued by staff and volunteers, as are partnerships with other community organizations
Accessibility—individuals and groups facing systemic barriers to health care are especially welcome
Innovation—we are creative when it comes to meeting client and community needs in a cost efficient manner
Service excellence—programs and services are effective
To operate a centre in and from which a continuum of prevention and recovery services is provided to all who suffer from addictions and the threat of them
To enhance community development by increasing general knowledge about the phenomenon of addiction and related mental health issues
To increase the life and job skills of our clients, in order for them to become and/or remain healthy and productive members of the community.
Set on eight acres of rural land on the edge of Woodbridge, in the City of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, a former 17,000 sq.ft. residence now houses Vitanova’s offices, meeting rooms, 28-bed shelter, indoor pool, gymnasium, and more. Most of the property is open space—rolling lawns, playing fields, a vegetable garden, and wooded areas beside a creek, along with barns, and a bocce court. The overall impression is one of peace and quiet, highlighted by the beautiful Fountain of Grace—the gift of nearly thirty local construction companies.
The staff at Vitanova is committed to the belief that “the client can recover”—a belief that, in an environment of genuine care, clients—whether substance users, abusers, or addicts—can achieve the recovery they are seeking. In dealing with individuals who by virtue of their conditions can be given to problematic behaviour, our counselors call upon their clinical knowledge, training in the field and, in some cases, their own personal journeys of recovery in order to reach beyond such behaviour and touch the person inside. Working at Vitanova is not just a job. It requires an attitude of patience, empathy and flexibility in dealing with clients who are not accustomed to abiding by rules.
Our Organizing Principles
We are abstinence-based
Predicated on the belief that freedom from any addiction requires total avoidance of all of the so-called triggers to such behaviour, which means all mood-altering drugs are prohibited unless prescribed by a physician.
We are client-centred
As a client-centred agency, Vitanova is focused on restoring the individual’s potential as a valued member of a fully-functional family and a contributor to the community-at-large. In light of this commitment, we acknowledge that all of our clients are individuals with their own mix of strengths, weaknesses, needs, and circumstances—all of which are to be considered in developing and executing individualized treatment plans.
We are holistic
Vitanova’s programs are tailored to meet the emerging needs of client groups. In this regard the Vitanova model, which began as a one-on-one counseling service, has evolved into a comprehensive program which begins with in-depth assessment, moves through treatment and rehabilitation—including life and job skills training, and anger management—and ends with on-going follow-up contact to ensure sustained recovery.
We are culturally-sensitive
Vitanova’s philosophy is based on the belief that clients from third-language communities (i.e., non-Anglophone and non-Francophone) require a specialized form of care, one which not only takes into account their different ethnocultural backgrounds, but requires the active participation and support of family and/or community members. To this end, Vitanova offers its services in a variety of non-official languages.
We are cost-effective
The core of the program is day-treatment, rather than residential treatment, although shelter is available to those who need it.
We are a charitable agency
Vitanova has been a registered Canadian charity (Reg. no. 124239054 RR0001) since 1989. As such, we charge no fees, being dependent on government subsidy for our day-treatment program and fundraising and donations for all else. While charging a fee might attract those clients who are able to afford treatment, it would preclude our serving the vast majority who cannot. At the same time, it is one way to assure that all clients are given the same level of service. We appreciate that some clients would be sensitive to any sign of the favouritism that paying clients might feel they are entitled to.
Our Approach to Addiction Recovery
We serve individuals, not addicts in general
The Vitanova Foundation describes itself as a client-centred agency, “…focused on restoring the individual’s potential as a valued member of a fully-functional family and a contributor to the community-at-large”. In light of this commitment, we acknowledge that all of our clients are individuals with their own mix of strengths, weaknesses, needs, and circumstances—all of which are to be considered in developing and executing an individualized treatment plan.
These individuals lack autonomy
Prior to their arrival at Vitanova, our clients do share certain behavioural characteristics: they are substance users/abusers/addicts who by definition have surrendered control over their own lives, to one degree or another. As drug users they also commonly engage in illegal and/or criminal behaviour. Given the nature of our clients, we cannot expect from them self-directed observance of the rules, as such individuals do not require the services we offer. In short, we are committed to serve the clients we have, not the one we might have.
Recovery means growth in autonomy
The recovery of personal autonomy (that is, the ability of individuals to exercise effective control over their own lives) initially requires the imposition of order in the form of external rules and regulations, until such time as the client can assume effective control over their own existence and “live by the rules”without external direction. This transition defines recovery.
Relapse is a stage in recovery
Understandably, this process is marked by a tension between those who impose order and those upon whom such order is imposed. Clients’ failures to observe rules and regulations (including relapses) are therefore to be expected from time to time, and indeed, their absence may be indicative of a client “biding his time” until discharge and intentional relapse.
Relapse is an opportunity for enhanced recovery
If occasional failures to observe rules (up to and including relapse) are part of the recovery process, the response to these failures must be carefully measured, as “automatic consequences” may fail to take appropriate account of individual progress made to date in terms of personal growth and the potential for enhanced recovery once a “lesson is learned”.
Positive lessons promote recovery
Such lessons must be educative, rather than punitive. Guilt, shame, and fear of consequences may be useful from time to time in controlling sociopathic tendencies in certain clients, but they are not universally appropriate tools for building a sense of responsible autonomy in individuals.
Our Clients’ Rights
- To be treated with dignity and respect as a unique person—with strengths, weaknesses, natural talents and learned skills; as the person whose welfare is at the heart of Vitanova
- To receive services in an environment that is safe and secure
- To make a complaint, without fear or threat of retaliation, and to have it dealt with appropriately in a timely manner
- To be recognized as a member of a family, a circle of friends, a community—with diverse social, cultural and spiritual needs, preferences, and aspirations
- To be accepted no matter what his/her values and beliefs, treated without discrimination or harassment, and accommodated to the maximum extent possible consistent with Vitanova’s resources
- To be informed about and oriented to Vitanova’s approach to treatment
- To be assigned a primary counsellor with whom the client will develop, monitor, and adjust, as appropriate, an individualized treatment plan
- To be involved in decisions about the services offered and received, including the right to refuse or discontinue receiving services
- To be engaged in shaping the programs and services we offer now or in future
- To personal privacy, and to have information shared with staff treated as confidential—except as may be required by law, or for purposes that do not involve client-specific indicators
Our Story—New Life for the Addicted
Watch how the lives of over 15,000 individuals have been put back together again thanks to a proven treatment model, hard work, and unconditional love. Witness the transformation from hopelessness to happiness, from being hostage to an addiction, to personal health, restored relationships with family and friends, and productive membership in society.
Vitanova’s client-centred approach—with individualized recovery programs tailored to the meet the specific needs of each client—is a proven alternative to the one-size-fits-everyone approach that is all too common when it comes to addiction treatment.