The Concordia Way Spring 2019 - Page 5



FEATURE
» Creating a home in Concordia Village for those living with mental illness
Continued from Page 1
apartment, and was approved. That was
three years ago. Now she’s one of 12 other
tenants who, like her, live with a chronic
mental illness but now have a safe place
to live, make friends, learn new skills, and
share experiences. When I ask her where
she’d be right now if she hadn’t moved into
CV4, she barely hesitates: “The hospital.”
Then I ask her how things have changed
for her since moving in. She smiles: “Oh,
wow. A lot.”
Joining Robyn and I in one of CV4’s airy
common rooms is Kym Kaufmann, CEO of
Eden Health Care Services, the organization that runs CV4.
“That’s so great to hear,” she tells Robyn,
visibly moved. “If you don’t have a place
to live, your mental health really suffers.
What we’re doing here is meeting one of
the deepest needs of the people we serve.”
Great place,
great people
In the summer, CV4 residents grow a community garden out back, which gives tenants a chance to work the
earth and take home the benefits of their skills, including fresh vegetables and herbs. Stock photo.
CV4 is also meeting the needs of the
broader community by providing desperately needed affordable housing, says Kym
Planning began in 2008, and the first we are best serving those individuals who
as she explains why Eden first chose to tenants moved in in 2014. CV4 is a four- most require our assistance,” says Kym.
undertake the project in 2008.
way partnership. Concordia owns the To qualify, tenants have to be living with
“We’re a unique organization in that land, Eden Health Care Services manages a chronic and serious mental illness, be
we provide wrap-around mental health and staffs the apartment block, Manitoba open to the services available to them, and
services—all the way from inpatient to Housing subsidizes the cost of rent, and earn less than a certain household income
outpatient care to community support to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority threshold that changes from year to year.
housing—which is something you don’t helps with funding for support staff.
“Many of our tenants have tried other
often see elsewhere.”
“I think we do a great job,” Kym tells me housing options that haven’t worked out
Supported by the Mennonite Churches later as we tour one of the suites. “It’s a well for them,” says Bev. “We understand
of Manitoba, Eden Health Care Services great place with great people—including their issues better and hopefully can help
primarily serves the Southern Health/Santé the people who work here.”
them be more successful.”
Sud health region. The organization’s misThis is true for Robyn, who lives in a
sion is to bring hope, healing and commuone-bedroom suite with laminate floors
nity to those living with mental illness. It
and gleaming, stainless steel appliances,
fulfills this mission through many branches,
including a dishwasher. She’s signed a
including the Recovery of Hope counseling
lease much like any other rental agreement,
service, supported housing in Winnipeg,
which means she’s free to come and go
Steinbach and Winkler, an acute mental
Joining us for my visit are Bev Dyck, pro- as she pleases, but still has to live by the
health hospital in Winkler, a communi- gram director for the Eden Housing and landlord’s rules (“which means no loud
ty mental health program for clients of Support Program, and Josh Doerksen, a parties”). She often spends weekends at
all ages, a philanthropic foundation, and housing support worker at CV4.
her mom’s, but during the week, a typical
Segue, which connects clients with skills
Bev tells me the idea has always been to day begins with taking her medication
training and employment opportunities. do more than put a roof over your head. and exercising—usually a stroll around
the neighbourhood. Later she’ll take the
bus to a bookstore/coffee shop where she
volunteers twice a week, or come down to
CV4’s common room for one of the group
More than a roof
over your head
their independence and achieve their goals,
such as volunteer opportunities, employment opportunities or assistance, or the
health care services they already rely on,
including community health services and
outpatient hospital teams.
They also work hard to give tenants
meaningful things to do throughout the
day, including regular coffee and hangout
times. These activities encourage tenants
to share and learn from each other’s experiences, and help them build and manage
relationships they can depend upon when
staff have gone home for the day.
Robyn admits this part wasn’t easy for
her at first. When she first moved in, she
found socializing a challenge. Since then,
she’s made a solid group of friends. “People
find it safe here to share their struggles
with mental health. You find out you’re
not alone. You can talk about what you’ve
gone through in a safe space.”
Housing support workers encourage tenants to sign up for workshops and groups
that can help them cope with their mental
illness. They connect tenants with subsidized gym memberships, and arrange field
trips to local sports events and cultural
"As long as I'm living here,
I know I'll always have a home to come back to."
ROBYN, CV4 RESIDENT
Coffee and hangout times encourage CV4 tenants to share and learn from each
other’s experiences, and help them build and manage relationships they can
depend upon. Stock photo.
CV4 grew out of Eden’s experience pro- “We aim to help people develop the skills to
viding acute care in Winkler. For many pa- live more independently. That could mean
tients, the transition from hospital back learning skills like housekeeping, cooking,
into the community proved difficult and budgeting, connecting with the communihighlighted the need for affordable, sup- ty, all through the support of our housing
ported housing. To respond to that need, support workers. We also offer education
Eden has expanded its housing portfolio around what it means to live with a mental
over the years to include independent and illness and developing coping techniques
transitional housing for short- and long- and skills.”
term clients. Moving into Winnipeg with
Applications to live in CV4 are reviewed
CV4 was the logical next step.
by a selection committee that “makes sure
SPRING 2019
activities offered to tenants. In the after- hotspots. In the summer, they even grow
noons and evenings, she hangs out with a community garden out back. “We grow
friends.
any vegetable that can be grown in ManTwo social workers are available onsite; itoba,” says Josh proudly before pausing.
alongside the housing support workers, “We don’t guarantee a successful crop, but
they give tenants time and attention. we try real hard.”
Robyn meets with Josh once a week for a
Robyn, a regular part of the gardening
check-in. “We keep an eye on how our ten- team, is more philosophical. “It’s great to
ants are doing, and help them recognize have the garden right out back, where you
how they’re doing,” he says. Sometimes he can watch things grow.”
helps Robyn, for instance, by suggesting
Unlike other supported housing facilities
ways to manage housekeeping chores or offered by Eden, which can be short-term
planning for an upcoming visit to her doc- or transitional, CV4 is considered permator. His steady encouragement, she says, is nent housing. In other words, says Bev
what she likes best about living here.
Dyck, “This is your home for as long as you
want it to be.”
For Robyn, the plan so far is to stay for as
long as she can. Down the road, she hopes
to build a career in journalism or animal
The staff at CV4 work together as a team care. She also wants to travel the world. “As
to connect tenants with resources in the long as I’m living here,” she says, “I know I’ll
community that will help them develop always have a home to come back to.”
A safe space
CONCORDIAFOUNDATION.CA
THE CONCORDIA WAY 5

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