Author Archives: Jeremy

Why I work for The Mission: Kathy

October 5 is World Teachers Day. Kathy is a certified teacher who has supported SSLC for almost five years. As she says, “It’s a small classroom with a big impact.”

SSLC is a unique learning centre within The Mission that supports students to meet their individual learning goals. These can include: earning a secondary school diploma; applying to college and university; assistance to re-enter the workforce; help to FSTP students with the theoretical components of the program; support to both English and French as a second language students; basic literacy support; assistance with computers; and many other educational activities.

Kathy also provides emotional support through developing positive hobbies with students such as art projects and book club, as well as group extracurricular activities such as outings to the new Ottawa Art Gallery and museums, tie-dye at Centre 454, the Museoparc Vanier, and other gatherings.

The impact of trauma, poverty, learning disabilities, and other barriers leave many of Kathy’s students with the impression that they will not be successful. Kathy works hard to dispel those feelings.

“I meet them where they’re at and success is unique for each student. It means a lot to me to work closely with students in a safe and supportive space to help them achieve their dreams.”

As her students learn from Kathy, she learns from them. “They know the meaning of perseverance. I admire them so much.”

Mental Illness Awareness Week: Why I work for the Mission

As we progress through Mental Health Awareness Week, The Ottawa Mission is proud to bring you our second instalment of stories concerning our amazing mental health, trauma and addiction program services and staff who work in partnership with our clients to meet their goals.

Laura Robinson is the Assistant Manager of Assistant Manager of Addiction and Trauma Services and works within The Mission’s LifeHouse, a five-month intensive residential addiction and trauma treatment program that includes group sessions, relapse prevention, anxiety management, spirituality and individual counselling.

When we developed our new Strategic Plan three years ago, we were guided by the underlying need to introduce new programs and enhance existing ones, with the ultimate goal of helping people in our care achieve wellness — in mind, body and soul. To that end, the Mission undertook the relocation of Lifehouse.

The Mission has operated a residential addiction treatment program since the 1980s. Recently, we have placed more emphasis on the root causes of addiction — which almost always involve past trauma — and on enhancing services to allow residents the best chance of success. To do so, we hired professionals who are experts in treating trauma and made the decision to move LifeHouse to a facility away from the shelter — to an environment that is more conducive to long-term healing. This massive undertaking included an investment of $2.5M to purchase and refurbish a new home for LifeHouse.

“Since opening LifeHouse’s new doors in 2017, we have increased evening and weekend activities. Having trained addictions staff available around the clock means that residents are getting the best possible care. With more space available, we have also expanded services. Two new therapy groups have been added to help men understand the effects of addictive substances and how to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle,” Laura notes.

“Our success rates with residents in the past year are encouraging: Our capacity increased from 11 to 13 beds, and the number of client relapses decreased by three from the previous year. Twenty-seven men graduated from LifeHouse in 2017-2018,” Laura adds.

LifeHouse’s effectiveness in meeting the needs of our clients is noted by Wayne, a former resident of LifeHouse “As soon as I went to the building on Albert Street for my LifeHouse assessment, I felt right at home. LifeHouse was a home for me and in a way it still is. The Mission is like a home for me and it has gotten me through all this. I know it’s my own drive and my own push that has gotten me this far, but the support has been very important…. The house is very clean and very warm. Everyone does an awesome job with the chores and taking care of it. I hadn’t felt home in a long, long time. I would recommend this program to anyone.”

Mental Illness Awareness Week: Why I partner with the Mission

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Ottawa Mission brings you stories of our dedicated mental health, trauma and addiction program staff who work tirelessly with clients to help them rebuild their lives.

Robyn is a social worker with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) who has worked within The Mission for the past three years supporting clients with untreated severe and persistent mental illness. The Mission had identified a need for outreach to isolated, long-term shelter residents who lacked meaningful engagement with personal relationships and professional supports. To meet the complex needs of these individuals, The Mission partnered with community mental health experts at CMHA and created Robyn’s position.

Robyn delivers intensive case management with her clients to provide a variety of supportive services. “I believe that all people, despite their circumstances, want to improve their lives. Mental illness can impact people’s insight, ability to organize, and set goals. Building rapport and trust is essential to addressing these barriers and supporting individuals on their respective journeys.”

“Change is slow, and often hard. ‘Success’ is different for each client. For some, it can mean securing and maintaining housing. For others, it can be as simple as making a connection with someone. I feel privileged to be welcomed into clients’ lives to support this,” Robyn adds.

“Mission staff want what’s best for clients and they’re very flexible to help clients get there. They help resolve barriers that can stand in clients’ way, such as providing tenants’ insurance, furniture, medical care immediately without an appointment, and other supports. The Mission is fantastic in doing everything it can to help clients meet their goals,” Robyn concludes.