Open Door provides a lifeline to youths
Bell Let's Talk day inspired one local youth to share how the Camrose Open Door Association saved her life. Supplied.
At Camrose Open Door Association, we provide supports to a wide range of young people in need. During last week’s Bell Lets Talk Day, one client shared her moving story with us, not to dwell on the troubles she has had to face, but for the hope that exists for all our clients.
"Yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk Day, and they asked people to talk about what Mental Health Means to them. To me, Mental Health means being able to talk to Open Door staff at any time of the day about what is on my mind. The Open Door has been on my side every step of the way. Throughout my life, I have been through abuse, emotional, physical, and sexual. At first, I did not know how to cope with it all, so I self-harmed. Depression is a very hard thing to get through. Every day is a battle for your life and I struggled for years. I came to the Open Door feeling worthless and alone. I was living in Wetaskiwin at the time, sleeping on the streets, and benches, in and out of trap houses, and then I found the Open Door. I consider the Open Door to be my home. When I first came, I didn’t know anyone, and I had to make new friends. Making friends was hard especially in a new town and in a new school. Through the Open Door, I was able to meet many new people and supports. They helped enroll me in school, set me up with mental health appointments, hooked me up with the LGBTQ+ community, and looked after my basic needs. Every day is still a battle through my eyes, but every day it gets a little better. You guys don’t know how much you do. I appreciate all that you do. You guys saved my life. Thank you. "
This new monthly column will at times share more of these testimonials, and also take a more in-depth look at the many programs and services that we provide. The Open Door is a regional not for profit organization that offers support services and hope to youth in need between the ages of 11 and 24. The Open Door provides support, effective services, and a safe place for youth in need to grow and transition into successful adulthood, becoming contributing members of society. Among the many prevention and intervention supports we offer includes a shelter, outreach services to communities and schools, FASD supports, an ID program, a tenant education program and a library program.
Last year, The Open Door began providing an Integrated Hub in partnership with the Camrose Primary Care Network. The Integrated Hub is the first of its kind in the Province of Alberta. The Integrated Hub provides navigation and immediate assistance, connecting individuals to appropriate services within the region and providing long term follow up. The Integrated Hub connects youth and families to services including medical services, counselling services, family mediation, life skills, financial support, and various other supports. The Open Door is proud of the services that are provided, and the recognition that the programming offered is cutting edge in the Province of Alberta.
The clients we provide services to are from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. They each have varying and individual needs that require specific attention. Some of our clients have experienced significant trauma, and require long periods of stabilization before they are able to becoming active members in the community. Other clients require short and specific supports to assist them in their journey. Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about The Open Door is that the youth we serve are all “bad” kids. This is false. The individuals and the families we support have faced adverse situations that have resulted in the need for assistance. These individuals are not bad. They have faced a struggle and are reaching out for the support they need.
The Open Door has recently added a support dog to our team. Moose was adopted by The Open Door to provide supports to the youth, young adults and families that we serve. His gentle and intuitive nature makes him perfect for his job. He spends his days working at the office alongside our team, and his evenings hanging out at shelter with the youth and staffing team there and going for long walks. Moose is an incredible asset to our programming and is especially helpful with crisis intervention. We invite you to come to Moose’s picnic on Family Day and meet Moose.
I look forward to sharing more of our stories in the months ahead.
Jessica Hutton is the Executive Director for Camrose Open Door Association. For more stories and information on Moose’s picnic, check out our new website. www.camroseopendoor.com.