and moves us to remember that we are part of a much greater universe.” Mbali Creazzo
For our last few blogs, we’ve shared stories through our volunteers and "My Volunteer Story" submissions. We will continue sharing these personal volunteer stories, but for this blog, we’d like to reflect on, and express our appreciation and deep gratitude for other ways staff and the community give to the Volunteer Program and the patients at Ontario Shores.
Many volunteer organizations and programs rely on the generosity and kind donations of the community to keep their programs running. Here at Ontario Shores, we rely on donations of books, magazines and puzzles to keep our Drop-In Centre stocked with reading material for patients. Our Good Luck Clothing Shop is entirely stocked by staff and community donations of gently used and new clothing, and winter coats for our annual Winter Coat Drive. We receive many of these donations continually throughout the year, but it is during the holiday season that we really see the gift of giving; and this holiday season was no different.
We are very lucky to have strong relationships with several community organizations that annually donate items to patients, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank those organizations for their generosity and deep sense of compassion for our patients.
Whitby Baptist Church and Kindred Hearts Quilters Guild
Whitby Baptist Church first started collecting items and donating gift bags (100) in 1998 after a hospital Chaplain mentioned that patients were often alone during the holiday season – some with little or no family contact. Members of the church wanted to do something to show patients they are not alone, or forgotten, and thought the gift bags were a small act of kindness they could provide.
For this blog, I have a task for all readers - and it is called Project Smile.
Do you know the power of a smile?
First, some background:
We are all (ALL!) born with the ability to smile. We do not need to learn to smile. It is an innate facial feature that as newborns we develop almost immediately.
Unfortunately, we grow up and underutilize the smile because either we learn or are taught not to smile for various reasons. For some, it might be considered being “unprofessional”, for others they might just not see the value of the smile…
On the surface it’s a simple enough message, but as part of a national mental health campaign it’s anything but.
The Bell Let’s Talk campaign is a multi-year charitable program dedicated to mental health. Bell has committed more than $67.5 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations across Canada which target anti-stigma, care and access, workplace health and research.
While it raises money to support programs and services, it also serves as a reminder that we all need to be part of the conversation around mental illness.
Unlike other diseases, mental illness remains a conversation far too many refuse to engage in. For people with mental illness, the fear of stigma and discrimination is real. It prevents people from speaking for themselves and getting the help they need. Families struggle with the burden of shame, as if they somehow played a role or are to be blamed for a child’s mental illness. This struggle jeopardizes early intervention. Friends and colleagues fear having “that’ conversation, as it might somehow make things worse. In reality, it often makes people dealing with illness feel more isolated.