Magazines 2019 Sept - Oct Social enterprise meets addiction recovery in Ottawa

Social enterprise meets addiction recovery in Ottawa

07 October 2019 By Craig Macartney

Popular and healthy drink provides the vehicle

JON RUBY HAS a passion to help people in recovery. After planting Ottawa’s Union City Church Ruby wanted to find a way to have a bigger city impact. What he found was kombucha, a fermented tea served cold and loaded with probiotics and vitamins.

"It started with the concept of social enterprise," Ruby explains. "We were debating on service- or product-based social enterprise. I had tried kombucha a number of years ago. As I don’t drink it was an amazing replacement for drinking."

A former addict himself, Ruby decided his church could work with recovering addicts to brew and sell kombucha while supporting recovery work around the city. He spent nine months looking into the product, learning to brew it organically and experimenting with flavours. Last year his church launched a not-for-profit called Carlington Booch to pilot its product (

"We easily broke even. It has gotten us into speaking environments about social enterprise, and social impact and why we do things. That has really opened doors to speak about addiction."

In the spring of 2019 Carlington Booch launched in full force, expanding its reach and hiring its first staff member. Their aim is for Carlington Booch to help cover church salaries, but they also donate money from every bottle sold to help recovery work in Ottawa.

Another key goal is hiring recovering addicts to help support their recovery by teaching them work and team skills, offering a healthy and caring environment, and providing discipleship.

"One staple saying in recovery is that the only way we get to keep what we have is by giving it away," says Carlington Booch employee Travis Arsenault. "Carlington Booch has given me a platform to do that every day."

Carlington Booch sells its products at several Ottawa farmers’ markets, out of the cofounder’s garage and through Booch Ambassadors – local businesses that believe in the vision and keep a kombucha fridge stocked onsite for staff and clients. All three avenues have opened doors to talk to people about addiction and making positive changes in the community. As the brand grows Arsenault says the potential for impact is huge.

"This company has impacted me by not only giving me community, but giving me a sense of purpose. Being personally affected by drug and alcohol addiction, being part of something that can help people in that way is super-rewarding. I love what I do and I love being part of this company. We aren’t just selling kombucha. We are selling a message of hope and trying to help people’s loved ones get their lives back."