Legacy Place Society (Diakonos Peace Officer Retreat)
Our Story Why We Exist
Flashing lights, burning buildings, "Police Line Do Not Cross" tape, make shift medical scenes, devastation and destruction. Our job is to respond when people are in the midst of an extreme crisis. While some call us heroes, we're really common folks called to a profession that deals with the brokenness of this world.
I know first hand the every day struggles faced by First Responders. I am one.
We've seen people die before our eyes, helpless to do anything. We've responded to violent robberies, domestic disputes, homicides and suicides. We run into the dangerous situations that everyone else runs away from. We've rang many door bells and comforted the families while telling them that their loved one has passed away.
The sights, smells, sounds and carnage of our job can haunt us. We are trained to have answers and control situations. It's hard to drop it all from your mind when you walk through the front door to your family at the end of the shift. There is a stigma around admiting help is needed to mental health concerns. Heroes aren't supposed to have emotional breakdowns, not in front of their families and especially not at work.
I tried my best to live a normal life outside of work, but I've suffered anxiety over simple "normal things" that remind me of horrendous situations that I've been called to. Sometimes I've slept poorly and the pent up frustrations become overwhelming on my family.
My spouse was living a roller-coaster existence, never knowing when I would be called out, uncertain if or when I'd be home. At home I was often disengaged, distant and really trying desperately to recover from the trauma of the job. My kids avoided me because of my anger. One day it became too much for my family and I found my bags at the door and told to get help. I realized I needed help but how do I do it without being judged or navigate thru the difficult depths of the situation I was facing.
I had heard of Legacy Place Society in it's support to First Responder and Military Families but I still didn't feel that it was something that applied to me. But stubborn me, I'll figure it out on my own. I don't need to talk about this emotional or relationship stuff to anyone. Guess how long that lasted.
Legacy Place Society provides confidential accommodation support for us. A quiet place, away from triggers that allows us to figure things out. Others also seeking this support understand where we're at as they too had to make this courageous step. We don't have to "put on a happy face" for our kids or hide away our feelings. We can freely speak about what's going on without fear of being judged or losing our jobs. This is a place where rest and healing can begin. A place of support and encouragement.
Yes the first days were tough, fighting the urge to walk away, fight off the fear I wasn't going to make it through this. But after wiped tears and conversations, and time with professional councelling, I realized I can and I will become victorious over this blip on the radar. Through tough decisions and behavioral changes, I've grown stronger in so many ways, including going back to my family and sharing this new resiliency from within and sharing it with my co-workers. I realized for myself and also others around me, it's not a matter of if this same experience will happen but when.
I am grateful for the support and patience from my family and Legacy Place Society.
Our Impact What We Do
Our Peace Officers, Fire Fighters, Emergency Medical Services, 911 Dispatch and Military Personnel face frustrating and devastating situations on the workfront and then find themselves working hard to find a balanced life perspective on the homefront.
- Our Mission: Provide empathetic support that builds resiliency individually and within our First Responder and Military Families.
- Our Vision: That all First Responder and Military Personnel have user friendly access to resources to build resiliency as an individual and/or as a family.
- Our Values: Family, Empathy, Diversity and Inclusivity, Confidentiality, Collaboration, Integrity
Our History: Founded in 1997 by a group of Calgary and Edmonton Police Officers who felt there was a gap between the professional life and the transition to the home front. There was a period within a year of several suicides within Policing in Alberta and discovery of situations where First Responders were having difficulties in coming home because of the stresses they were carrying from work. The sights, sounds and carnage have a way of building up within the human mind that is difficult to shake off. Sleeping in their vehicles and couch surfing at a buddies basement became a disturbing trend. Over the years, the Services that represent Police, Fire, EMS, 911 Dispatch and Military have developed different types of Peer Support resources and instruction to better assist ways of coping to the challenges of the profession.
Legacy Place Society is the CONFIDENTIAL home away from home that supports First Responders and Military Personnel individually or as a family in providing accommodations during times of family crisis within marriages or for medical attention (Counselling, cancer, occupational stress injury, post-traumatic stress, surgery, etc).
Since opening the doors in 2001, we have received over 24,000 nightly stays between the 3 locations (Calgary 2001, Edmonton 2004 and Red Deer in 2010). Military Personnel were added in 2010 simply due to lack of available resources and because of the cross over of professions once the military career has retired. Our audience consists of currently serving First Responder and Military Personnel and those who are retired veterans of these professions.
Our First Responders are human too. At the end of their shift and its time to go home, its quite difficult to disengage from the days events. Communication, adjusting to family routine and coping behaviors can be challenging within themselves of within the family.
Our programs detail many areas including participation with peer support, education bursaries, scholarships, leaving legacies, benevolence, resiliency workshops, humanitarian mission trips, and family camp to name a few.
Our Programs How We Do It
Home Away From Home Resources - If there should be a request to participate in the "home away from home" resources, please note there is a location in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer that is a residential home setting close to hospitals and Operational Stress Injury Clinics. For unique circumstances in rural Alberta, assistance is assessed on a case by case situation.
Peer Support Conversation And Networking - this consists of dedicated volunteers who desire to provide confidential and collaborative support in the areas of conversation about marriage, parenting, grief, spiritual wellness, addiction recovery, single parenting, anger management and journey thru PTSD recovery to name a few. No one should feel shunned, lonely or shame as they seek conversation about anything. The truth is, we never know what someone is going through until the conversation starts.
Family Camps - taking time with family and do some fun stuff together - not at a mall but in a camp setting with nature and a multitude of activities such as canoeing, high ropes, wall climb, paint ball, horse back rides, camp fires, etc. Included are team building or youth resiliency workshops. The parents can also participate in informative wellness, marriage, or mindfulness assessments or instruction. The goal is creating memories and conversations that generate stronger family bonds.
Family Resiliency Workshops - occasionally partnered with other like organizations, these workshops provide a variety of topics that could include mental health readiness, psychological first aid, spiritual wellness, parenting, special needs and marriage support to name a few.
Humanitarian Mission Trips - these self funded trips provide First Responders and Military Families opportunities to participate in outreach programs in other countries. Primarily, this includes house building in the Tecate area of Mexico or case by case situation with natural disasters. Participation with the house building (usually late March) includes involving your whole family in this incredibly rewarding build of a home for a family in need.
Education Bursaries - qualified individuals can submit an application to an education bursary that is relevant to continuing education in the field of work that supports the career/home front that is not already covered by the Services.
Benevolence Support - each of the Services have independent resources that support benevolence situations and inquiries should first go through the specific Service you work for. If there is a scenerio for example where there is a serious family health situation that co-workers would like to raise funds for, please contact us about the application process.
Leaving A Legacy - as individuals we all leave each day interactions with family, co-workers, friends and our community a living legacy that includes conversation, wisdom, memories, actions and at times financial contribution. As noted with the sights, smells, sounds and carnage associated with our First Responder and Military Community, it's critical that we as citizens help those who help us in times of crisis including creating stronger communities together. Ultimately, for the First Responders and Military, the challenges at times can be extremely difficult to transition through and doing normal family life can be tough. Suicides, family breakdowns, Post Traumatic Stress and Opertational Stress Injuries happen within the Services. We talk about the legacy of impact that is taking shape through good and bad behaviors and encourage drawing strength from the great accomplishments and extraordinary contributions that have been made while adjusting other areas of concern. Capturing and sharing with focus on transmitting personal and family values, core principles and life lessons with each other and with the family is important. Leaving a legacy can also be through financial means as a one time or monthly gift in memory of or supporting Legacy Place Society programs. Please feel free to talk to us as we continue to share resources in building resiliency and family legacies within our First Responder and Military Families.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Be a strong contributing citizen in the community in ways that provide mentoring or volunteer support. Mentoring and volunteering contribute to the well being of others and develops tremendous personal development. Crime is statistically less in communities where mentoring and volunteering is present.
- Participate in a fund raising event or develop one yourself to raise funds for the Legacy Place Society - if donating through the United Way, consider the designation to Legacy Place Society.
- Participate in First Responder and Military public community events and Remembrance or Memorial Days.
If you know of anyone who is currently serving or is retired from the professions of Peace Officer, Fire Fighter, Emergency Medical Services, 911 Dispatch or Military, and feel they should be made aware of Legacy Place Society, encourage them to find us on Twitter, Facebook or contact us to get on our newsletter communications.
- Share your story with us of how a First Responder or Military person impacted your life - this could be as a family member, speaking at your school, being part of a 911 type of situation as examples.
- Mailed letters of encouragement for our First Responders and Military will be forwarded to the Services.
Consider becoming a financial monthly ($15) or once a year supporter ($100) and receive a charitable tax receipt - your donation will support areas of accommodations, benevolence, education, workshops or the Legacy Tributes. Undesignated funds will support general operating costs of the Charity.
- Leave a financial Legacy in honour or memory of someone you know to Legacy Place Society.