Serving our Diverse Community
We are committed to taking an active stand against racism. By offering an anti-racism training course for our staff and board, we are developing our anti-racist and antioppressive lens and strengthening racial literacy. We conducted an organizational assessment that yielded powerful insights that are helping us prioritize our anti-racism work. And our Equity Leader is helping us sustain our ongoing commitment in anti-racism, develop a policy that demonstrates zero tolerance for racist and microaggressive behaviour, and create an equity strategy to help us address biases and develop culturally inclusive programs for the specific needs of clients of our BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.
Serving Younger Children
Last fall, we launched a Day Treatment service for children under 12 at our Children’s Mental Health Centre. After adding four classrooms and assembling a multidisciplinary team of teachers, Child and Youth Workers, a Psychologist, a Clinician, a Program Supervisor, an Intensive Family Support Worker and a Recreation Coordinator, we welcomed 16 children aged 6 to 11 on the first day of school. Adding this younger population broadens our mental health treatment services in our school to children from 6 to 18 years of age and means we now do more to help kids earlier in life.
Working to End Homelessness
Having worked with community partners to end chronic homelessness for families in Waterloo Region since 2014, our Families in Transition (FIT) team have successfully kept family homelessness numbers very low. This December, FIT housed the last family who had been in shelter for over 6 months. Since that time, the team has continued working to house families before their shelter stay reaches 6 months – an accomplishment that has drawn national attention. This year the team received the honour of earning the Sybil Frenette Award for Outstanding Housing Creator on National Housing Day. In addition, in 2020, our PATHS2Home team helped 184 individuals access permanent housing through partnerships with shelters, private and not-for-profit housing providers and supportive housing providers.
Youth Getting Ahead in the Workplace
In Kitchener, we have launched a new youth employment program called “Getting Ahead in the Workplace.” Funded by Service Canada through “Youth Employment Skills Strategy,” this program helps youth learn about the work environment, connects them with the supports, provides mental wellness strategies and provides job opportunities with local employers through paid placements. While focusing mainly on youth who are struggling with housing insecurity, any youth experiencing high barriers to employment are eligible for this program.
Launching Youth Into Life
Life Launch is a donor-supported initiative for youth aging out of the youth shelter program but needing support as they transition into independent housing. Donations from several local organizations facilitated the creation of two independent living units in our Safe Haven Youth Services building. The program offers independent living skills, guidance in making appropriate life choices, and job and housing search supports. This year, staff helped seven youth successfully transition into independent housing in the community and a new chapter of their lives.
10 Years of Steps for Kids
We asked the community to take 26,000 steps for 26,000 kids. Why? There were approximately 26,000 kids in Waterloo Region who were struggling with their mental health prior to COVID-19. We know that the impact of the pandemic has drastically increased this number. With an in-person event not being possible, our transition to a virtual event included options of a 5, 10 or 20 km (26,000 steps) walk. T-shirts and lawn signs popped up throughout our community as people demonstrated their support of Lutherwood and children’s mental health. We are so grateful to our Lutherwood community for joining us for a soggy week of walking. Together we surpassed our $100,000 goal.