In 1971, the City of Ottawa became the birthplace of Operation Come Home (formerly Operation Go Home). At that time, Reverend Norman Johnston recognized a unique need to assist runaway youth across Canada to return home to their family. An ordained United Church Minister, Rev. Johnston believed in his community and the youth within it.
He held a special place in his heart for Ottawa’s street youth population. He began communicating with local runaways through the support of the local police service, the RCMP, the court system and social service providers. This network of agencies formulated the beginning of Operation Come Home (formerly Operation Go Home). His mission was to connect with young runaways and help them return home. This mission formed into a national mandate and was adopted in 1985 by a Board of Directors and Reverend Sterling Irvine was hired as the first Executive Director. With Rev. Irvine’s direction, OCH (formerly Operation Go Home) found office space with the YMCA of Ottawa-Carleton. He continued to follow Rev. Johnston’s mission to assist with young runaways while acting as a liaison between youth and their parents / legal guardians. In December of 1986, Viking Rideau Corporation graciously donated office space to Operation Come Home (formerly Operation Go Home) in the Rideau Centre parking garage. This was instrumental to bringing the program closer to the downtown market area where the street youth population often congregates.
In 1990, Operation Come Home (formerly Operation Go Home) elected a committee to form a National Organization. In September 1990, due to their hard work, National Operation Come Home (formerly Operation Go Home) was launched.
Throughout the next few years Operation Come Home (formerly Operation Go Home) began to open new offices across the country, with the first office opening in Toronto in 1992. Offices then opened in Vancouver in 1993, Winnipeg in 1994 and Halifax in 1995. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the Vancouver, Halifax and Toronto offices closed.
Operation Come Home is now an innovative organization that offers a multitude of comprehensive programs and educational opportunities to clients. Located in downtown Ottawa, Operation Come Home helps hundreds of at-risk and homeless youth access the services and support they need in order to make positive changes in their lives.
Operation Go Home changed its name to Operation Come Home on June 18, 2009 in an effort to better articulate our mission and mandate to the community.