Your help has made life-changing stories happen. Because of your support, the Shalem Mental Health Network has helped couples trying to salvage a marriage, young people working to overcome self-harm, youth living on and off the streets, people dealing with mental illness, poverty and the legacy of abuse, seniors dealing with grief and depression due to loss, foster and adoptive children whose early and repeated abuse makes relationship so difficult, and women seeking to leave domestic violence. Here are just a few stories of how you’ve helped:
You’ve Helped People Get Life-Changing Counselling
With Shalem’s Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP), churches make available to all of their members up to six counselling sessions from a local, Masters-degree level therapist, anonymously and at no cost to the client. Currently the Shalem Network is supporting 60 churches across Ontario from six denominations with CAP. In addition, five schools are using the Network’s similarly structured Counselling Assistance Plan for Students (CAPS).
You help to keep CAP affordable for churches and schools. And the impact of your support continues to be enormous. Listen to two reflections:
“The CAP program changed my life. On my own, I would not have been able to afford counselling, but through this program, I got the help I needed and my life has changed in immeasurable ways. I cannot express enough thanks.”
“I have recommended that others use CAP. I cannot express how beneficial it was to be able to receive this type of support.”
You’ve Helped Young People Who Live On the Streets
You’ve Helped Allan
Meet Allan. Allan is 34. Both of his parents are deaf and his mother is legally blind. His father was raised as a foster child. From a young age Allan was involved with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), and at the age of 13 he was placed into foster care. When he contacted the Shalem Network’s WrapAround program, his wife had recently left him and access to his three children was now restricted, though he had been a stay-at-home dad, a job he loved. He had been incarcerated from 18-19, and his file contained the word “schizophrenia”. He was in debt, did not have a safe place to live, was being investigated by the CAS and was on Ontario Works, which did not leave him enough for both food and rent. His teeth had been so neglected that he had difficulty chewing. When he called, he was isolated and alone, and he cried.
But WrapAround builds on people’s strengths, gifts, hopes and dreams. WrapAround soon learned that Allan is ambitious, conscientious, honest, loyal, a good friend and excellent partner, organized and resourceful. He has experience in renovation, landscaping and construction and is good with his hands. He signs for people who are hearing impaired and is an outstanding caregiver for people with disabilities, including his new partner, who has a physical disability and is in a wheelchair. His dream is to go back to school and work with at-risk youth. He is passionate about giving back.
WrapAround is a life-planning process focused on putting Allan in charge of his life. Building on his strengths, a team of people he has chosen helps him to meet his needs. His team has worked through finding a safe place to live, reintegrating him with his children—he is an excellent father!—negotiating the legal system to obtain a pardon, providing basic needs to deal with extreme poverty, getting dentures and eliminating the incorrect, barrier-creating diagnosis of “schizophrenia”. He and his partner have just had a brand new healthy baby!
Allan says, “although team members have changed over time, we function well as a team. Life is better.” People he thanks are team members from the Compassion Society, Faith Christian Reformed Church, Hughson Baptist Church, St. Vincent De Paul, Mohawk College and others.
WrapAround is a hand-up, not a hand-out. Now his dream is to go back to school and become a Child and Youth Worker. He now speaks at Shalem community presentations about WrapAround, and his story was recently featured in the Hamilton Spectator.
Through the Network’s Counselling Assistance Fund, you’ve helped 45% of the Network’s Counselling Centre clients receive counselling that they otherwise could not afford.
Meet John (not his real name, and a composite of numerous stories). John is 7 years old. He was severely neglected and abused due to his mom’s addiction and mental health issues and was permanently removed from his mom at the age of 3. He bounced around from foster home to extended family to foster home, where he was sexually abused by another foster child. Then he landed in his new “forever family,” his loving, adoptive parents.
But things aren’t going well. He has learned a lot in his young life. He has developed a belief system that says “I am not worthwhile—how could I be? My mom chose drugs over me; my dad didn’t choose me at all. Clearly, the world around me is not safe; adults are not reliable or trustworthy.” No amount of love by his new parents will break through this unyielding belief system. He is immersed in a pool of shame—“I am unworthy and do not deserve to be happy.” When his new parents compliment or praise him, he repeatedly goes into a rage and wrecks his room. Understandably, his parents are now exhausted and the adoption is about to break down. If that happens, what will be John’s future?
But John and his parents come to Shalem for attachment psychotherapy. Slowly, with the Shalem therapist’s coaching and his parents’ support, John starts to open up to a different view. He is given empathy for the view he has of himself and is helped to connect the dots of his life story. He begins to experience himself as his therapist and his new parents do—as a worthwhile, lovable child. He allows his parents to fuss over his bruises and put lotion on his scrapes. He is on his way to a view of himself that says “I am worthy of love, of relationship.”
John is a composite of more and more children coming to Shalem for attachment psychotherapy.
You have helped children like John begin to have hope for their lives.
You’ve Helped People Stuck in Conflict
The Shalem Network works actively to nurture healthy relationships in communities through its Restorative Practice program. Your support has made hundreds of facilitated community conversations possible—difficult conversations done in a safe way—with results like these:
Thousands of dollars disappear from a congregation’s safe. A police investigation discovers that the much-loved pastor stole the money. He is arrested. The Network’s FaithCARE (Faith Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences) program facilitates conversations for church members to talk about the impact of the situation on them and others, and how to repair the harm done. The conversations form the basis of a victim impact statement, and allows congregation members, who were traumatized by this event, to move forward.
Centre for Workplace Engagement
The housekeeping staff of a retirement home was suffering from years of conflict. Two rival groups had developed. One group no longer ate in the staff room or changed in the designated change room. Staff avoided talking to each other, sometimes making work as unpleasant as possible for each other. Morale was very low. The staff supervisor, less than a year into the job, didn’t know what to do.
The Shalem Network’s Centre for Workplace Engagement brought the women together to talk about what was happening, the impact on the workplace, and how to move forward. The process resulted in the women eating together and everyone using the change room. Women who hadn’t spoken to each other for years started reconnecting. The supervisor started to use restorative practices to build community with the women. Afterwards, the union representative wrote, “It was so refreshing to engage members and management in a context other than a grievance meeting. This process served to accelerate the level of trust between our union and the management team. I really value that as the representative at this facility.”
These stories are the tip of iceberg—all illustrating how you have helped. Your support makes these stories possible. Thank you!