Connections Place History

Moms Like Us started out as a few moms who got together over coffee, about two years ago, to discuss their children’s mental health challenges.  They found they had a lot in common - including their kids being at risk of homelessness at least once in their life – serious stuff!

Because they were able to support their youth, they managed to keep their kids safe and help bridge that precarious gap between hospital and home life.  They slowly learned from each other about programs that might help their children.  It never ceased to amaze them that all of this information was not combined in one place – so hard for them to navigate and comprehend – they could not imagine what it would be like for someone who was not 100% well or didn’t have family support.  So began the Moms Like Us journey – for the people out there who don’t have moms like us.

It was during this time that Jackie Powell's neighbor mentioned how the 'Clubhouse' in Winnipeg helps his brother so much – he even quit smoking due to the support of the Clubhouse. He went on to explain that Christmas Day is special at the Clubhouse and his brother chooses to go there first, before visiting family. This got Jackie very curious!  At the time, her son was isolating, had no friends, slept a great deal and was very anxious and depressed.  It was hard on the whole family to see him in this condition.  They were heart-broken.

Jackie decided to use the time her son was sleeping to start checking out this Clubhouse business.  First, she tracked down the Clubhouse number in Winnipeg, and they referred her to the Clubhouse in Port Alberni and then they referred her to the Clubhouse in Richmond – Pathways. The group of moms first visit to Pathways was on St. Patrick’s Day of 2014 and their progress in spreading the word in Victoria has been non-stop since!  They were inspired by what they saw and began working to bring a Clubhouse International to Victoria. Moms Like Us is currently in talks with Island Health. They now have over 1000 signatures of support from individuals and all of their local MLA’s have written letters of support – Carole James, Andrew Weaver, Lana Popham, Maurine Kargianis and Rob Flemming. All three police chiefs, along with Mayor Helps of Victoria, Mayor Nils Jensen of Oak Bay, Don Evans with Our Place, Cairine Green Oak Bay Councillor, and the Vancouver Island Criminal Justice Association, MP Murray Rankin, MP Elizabeth May, MLA Carole James, family physicians – and so on – the community is 100% behind Moms Like Us. They have teamed up with the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC - Bipolar Babe to help stomp out the stigma of mental illness and are gaining more partners by the day.

Check out the May 21st Town Hall Meeting where Lisa Helps, now Victoria Mayor, assisted the group with introducing Clubhouse International to 95 people at Pacific Rim College in Vicoria. The Director and a Clubhouse member offered a presentation from Pathways and did a fantastic job explaining how this evidence based model of psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) helps people get back into life – be it with gaining employment, going back to school, having meaningful relationships plus gaining purpose back in their lives. Moms Like Us have become well known as an unstoppable force in Victoria, BC and will not concede until an Accredited Clubhouse International is achieved.

In 2016 Connections Place grew and developed from Moms Like Us.  Moms Like Us was Formed in March 2014 by a group of passionate parents who are caregivers of adult children living with mental illness. The majority of us had healthy children who became ill in their late teens or early 20’s.

It is estimated that there is a minimum of 80,000 people living with a mental illness in the Greater Victoria Area. Where exactly are they? How do they spend their time? Do they have family and friends? Are they partaking in employment? Can or do they attend school? Where do they live? Do they have an addiction? Are they isolating? Are they homeless? Is there police involvement? The questions are endless.

Sadly, people fall through the cracks of society because these questions are not properly addressed and this is why the Moms Like Us group formed. We could see how easily our very own, much loved, much wanted children might have ended up on the street or worse. Without adequate access to mental health services - homelessness, poverty, addiction, crime and repeated hospitalizations are common outcomes.

How did we get our name? In early 2014 we met with Mayor Lisa Helps, who was at this time a City Councilor. We explained how we had discovered a program that has been around since 1948 called ‘Clubhouse International’ that rebuilds lives of those with a mental illness. As we were leaving the meeting Cherry Lynn Brown (co-founder) said, “we are doing this not just for our own children but for people who do not have moms like us.” Mayor Helps said, “That is your name!”

We have learned a great deal about the services available to people with mental illness and we are particularly focused on psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR). Rehabilitation is crucial to get people back on track and to help steer them on the right path to a fulfilling meaningful life that is complete with friends and family.

Through networking, research and reaching out to the community, Clubhouse International was discovered and we as parents have been advocating relentlessly ensuring this community-based model of rehabilitation is established in our community. Clubhouse will complement existing services and bring an evidence based, scientifically proven model to our community that will rebuild lives and save tax dollars.

Joel D. Corcoran, Executive Director of Clubhouse International has stated, “One thing we know for sure is that people living with mental illness are often alone, overlooked and invisible in their own communities. We also know that if their situation were turned around, these same individuals would thrive.”

Since 1948, Clubhouse International has learned through research, study and experience that access to a caring community of support can make all the difference for a person isolated by his or her disability. Belonging somewhere, in a caring community, might be the single most effective and accessible means of preventing acts of desperation, hospitalization, imprisonment or worse.

It will widen the tent of our society. In place of isolation, hopelessness and despair, people living with mental illness in Victoria and vicinity will experience community, employment, hope and a reason to wake up in the morning. This is why Moms Like Us was formed – to bring not just hope but real and meaningful changes to the lives of our loved ones.

Transitioning from a Grass Roots Organization (Moms Like Us) to Connections Place Society

Creating Awareness & Activities to Bring Community Together: 2014 - 2017

  1. March 15, 2014: First visit Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond BC for a tour by Jackie Powell, Cherry Lynn Brown, Howard Powell and Russell Powell
  2. April 4, 2014: Visit to Lisa Helps – to explain the Clubhouse Model. ‘Moms Like Us’ is initiated – a grass roots group of parents.
  3. April 16, 2014: Meeting with MLA Andrew Weaver, Gordon Head-Oak Bay
  4. April 21, 2014: Meeting with Nils Jensen, Mayor of District of Oak Bay
  5. May 9, 2014: Meeting with Carole James, MLA Victoria-Beacon Hill
  6. May 14, 2014: Moms Like Us participates along with Island Health to review services in the Greater Victoria Area –meets bi-monthly until December 2015.
  7. May 21, 2014: Town Hall Meeting at Pacific Rim College at Market Square (95 people attend – MC – Lisa Helps)
  8. June 22 – 25, 2014: Attendance to the Canadian Clubhouse Conference: Jackie Powell and Cherry Lynn Brown
  9. July 2014: Jackie Powell and Andrea Paquette attend ‘New Clubhouse Development Training in Fort Wayne, Indiana
  10. July 2014: Dave MacDonald, ED of Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond is assigned as Mentor by Clubhouse International to Moms Like Us.
  11. July 21, 2014: Submission to the Select Standing Committee on Youth Mental Health
  12. July 2014: Jackie Powell visits Fountain House NYC (original Clubhouse) and the Bronx Clubhouse
  13. August 14, 2014: Presentation to the Vancouver Island Criminal Justice Association
  14. September 7, 2014: Participate in Recovery Day – Centennial Square
  15. September 15, 2014: Presentation to Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
  16. September 19, 2014: Moms Like Us is the recipient of the ‘Dr. Nancy Hall - Public Policy Leadership Award’.
  17. October 8, 2014: Participate with the University of Victoria Mental Health Fair
  18. October 14, 2014: Moms Like Us invited to participate in a presentation at Camosun College ‘ Changing the Links – Mental Health Criminal Justice Public Forum’
  19. October 21, 2014: Participate with “Project Connect” at Our Place
  20. October 27, 2014: Meet with Mayor Fortin, Mayor of Victoria
  21. November 28, 2014: Visit to Burnaby at the request of Island Health to visit Echo Clubhouse (a non-Clubhouse International program). We also visit Coast Clubhouse operated by Coast Mental Health.
  22. December 3, 2014: Presentation to the Coolaid Board of Directors
  23. December 9, 2014: Jackie Powell, Dave MacDonald, ED Pathways and Andrea Paquette meet with Terry Lake Minister of Health. Minister Lake recommends Moms Like Us present to the Island Health Board of Directors
  24. January 2015: Visit to Potential Place Clubhouse, Calgary, Alberta
  25. February 2015: Moms Like Us makes three presentations to Mayor Lisa Helps and Council, City of Victoria
  26. February 19, 2015: Presentation to the Progressive Recovery Group of Victoria
  27. March 2015: We partner with CMHA for a period of one year.
  28. March 10, 2015: Presentation to the Saanich Police Board
  29. March 24, 2015: Presentation to the Oak Bay Police Board
  30. March 26, 2015: Presentation to Island Health Board of Directors
  31. April 2, 2015: Presentation to Chiefs of Police
  32. April 8, 2015: Presentation to the Office of the Auditor General
  33. April 21, 2015: Presentation to the Victoria Police Board
  34. April 22, 2015: Meet with Mayor Atwell, Corporation District of Saanich
  35. May 25, 2015: Presentation to Esquimalt Mayor and Council
  36. May 25, 2015: Presentation to Sidney Mayor and Council
  37. June 4, 2015 : Clubhouse Builder/Dinner – University Club, University of Victoria
  38. October 6, 2015: Attend Pathways Clubhouse Fundraising Dinner
  39. October 24, 2015: Jackie Powell attends Clubhouse International World Seminar in Denver, Colorado
  40. January – August 2016: Regular Meetings to establish the Board of Connections Place & establish a partnership with the Saanich Legacy Foundation
  41. September 8, 2016: Incorporation of Connections Place Society
  42. October 2016: Attend Pathways Clubhouse Fundraising Dinner, Richmond, BC
  43. October 20, 2016: Inaugural Meeting of Connections Place Society
  44. November 17, 2016: Public Event – The Point – Uptown Mall
  45. December 2016: Gift Card Promotion – Uptown Mall
  46. January 2017: Participate with the University of Victoria Mental Health Fair
  47. January 19, 2017: First Meeting of Connections Place Volunteers at the Kirby Room, Saanich Police Station.
  48. March 21, 2017: Recipient of $24,000 from 100+ Women Who Care Victoria
  49. March 2017: Cherry Lynn Brown visits Progress Place Clubhouse in Toronto
  50. April 23, 2017: Transition Application Confirmed – BC Registry Services
  51. May 5 – 14: Mental Health Kiosk at Uptown Mall
  52. May 8, 2017: Movie Monday showing of ‘West 47th Street’ a documentary about Fountain House – the first Clubhouse International
  53. May 11, 2017: First Annual Fundraising Dinner
  54. July & August 2017: Volunteers will attend ‘Music in the Park’ in Saanich BC once per week to raise awareness and the need for Connections Place