Our Story Why We Exist
What do you think of when you hear “Street Services”? Do you picture a shelter and people handing out steaming bowls of soup and cosy mittens in the winter?
I’d like to share Jack’s story with you, and you’ll see that Street Services can and should be so much more.
As a young boy, Jack watched as gambling and alcohol addictions consumed his father, Tim, whom he idolized and adored. His mother suffered years of emotional and physical abuse and finally found the courage to leave when Jack was 14, taking them far away to be sure Tim wouldn’t follow.
His mom, Leanne, had a hard time finding stable work, so they struggled with daily life in a tough neighbourhood in this city where they had no family or friends to fall back on.
And then – just when they thought things couldn’t get much worse, Leanne was diagnosed with lung cancer. Jack met a social worker during one of his daily visits to the hospital, but she could only offer a bus pass and a single food hamper during the 6 weeks before Leanne passed away. They had no savings, no life insurance, and the rent was overdue.
Jack had nowhere to go, and no one to help him.
He slept in stairways or in bushes; he found a blanket and camped close to others on the street. The constant pain of grief and despair Jack felt was dulled a little by the drugs someone offered him.
Young people like Jack come to us at Wood’s Homes every day. They text us saying they are anxious and afraid...they walk through our doors at the Eastside Family Centre or EXIT Community Outreach hoping someone will listen...they are referred to one of our specialized programs after a crisis like a suicide attempt – thousands of children and teens over the course of a single year.
Jack finally came to Wood’s, too. He lined up with a few others outside the EXIT Community Outreach doors on a bitterly cold morning, slipped into a chair in the corner and put his head down.
I sat down next to him and told him my name was Patrick. I saw how scared he was to be there, and how utterly alone he felt.
I offered him something to eat. Ducking his head, Jack quietly said, “Yes, please.”
This is what we all think of, right? That those who are homeless come looking for a warm place to rest their head and some food to stave off the hunger?
Jack did start off looking for food and warmth, and found that he could do laundry, have a shower, eat, and even get some warm socks. Wood’s Street Services offers these things because no one can ever heal if their basic needs are not met.
But then, as Jack started to trust us, he also started to trust himself again. When I asked him if he might like to volunteer at one of our luncheons, he said he would.
While we prepped for this lunch with some of the other volunteers who help out, Jack talked quietly about how his mom taught him to cook. Later, while he helped me serve the food he prepared, I saw a light in his eyes for the first time.
Now it was time to ask Jack a question. Street Services at Wood’s isn’t just about providing food and shelter – we are a mental health organization, after all. Our Street Services include counsellors, clinicians, job training, transitional housing, and all the advantages of having great relationships with other organizations.
So…the question. I asked if he might be interested in becoming a chef one day.
Fear and excitement flashed in equal measure across his face. I could tell that he really wanted to say yes, so I reminded him that if he wanted to try, he wouldn’t have to do it alone.
Jack began his training in the culinary program with such hope, but then fell into a deep depression. Cooking reminded him so much of his mother, and how much he missed her.
The Wood’s Youth Culinary Arts Program (YCAP) is special because it doesn’t just get youth ready to work; it includes ongoing support from counsellors and access to clinicians. Jack was able to attend weekly therapy sessions to work through his grief, trauma and addiction while completing his training.
The next time Jack came in to share what he cooked at the YCAP kitchen, we set up a meeting for him so he could look into finding a place to live. All this time he’d still been sleeping on the streets, but now he was clean and working steadily at a restaurant downtown.
He invited me to come with him when he got the keys to his apartment. When we got to the building, he gave me a hug, asked me to wait in the hall for a minute, and opened the door.
He told me later that when he went out onto the balcony he said out loud: “Mom, I did it. I have a job now. I have a home. And I feel like I might have me back, too.”
Our Impact What We Do
We Never Say No. We Never Give Up. We Never Turn Anyone Away. We offer services to children and their families in Calgary, Lethbridge, Strathmore, Canmore, Fort McMurray and Fort Smith, N.W.T. Young people in our intensive campus-based treatment programs come from Alberta and from many other areas across Canada.
Our Mission: To promote and assist the development and well-being of children, youth and families within their community.
Our Vision: Locally and nationally known and respected as a centre of excellence for child and family treatment, research and training, a workplace of choice and a leader in the development of innovative service choices.
Our Annual Report showcases many of the people and programs that contribute to our ability to serve more than 20,000 children, youth and families every year.
Since 2001, our in-house Research Department has been measuring program and client outcomes by regularly collecting and analyzing data from every program and service.
We are excited to announce Dr. Angelique Jenney - the Wood's Homes Research Chair in Children's Mental Health as she begins her work in the spring of 2017!
Our Programs How We Do It
Wood's Homes has more than 40 programs and services for children, adolescents, and families. We are very grateful for the generosity of individual, corporate, and community volunteers and donors. Details on the programs listed below (and more!) can be found on our website by following the links. All Wood's Homes programs are LGBTQ2S friendly.
- EXIT Youth Shelter and Community Outreach - shelter and support programs for homeless and at-risk youth (12-17 yrs) including on-site medical clinic and counselling and addictions services
- New Horizon - apartment units and support for young adults (18-24 yrs) at risk of being homeless
- Employment Services - Youth Culinary Arts Program to prepare at-risk/homeless youth for employment in the restaurant/food industry; the Linking Employment, Abilities and Development program to provide work and life skills for young people and connect them to sustainable employment
- Community Resource Team - 24/7 telephone, email, text, LiveChat and mobile crisis service
- Eastside Family Centre - free, walk-in counselling and consultation/referral services
- Outpatient Clinical Services - professional, specialized psychological assessment, individual or family therapy, occupational/art/speech and play therapies
- Home Connections - family support program that provides culturally-sensitive services for children, youth and families in their home, school, and community settings
- Foster Care - family-based care to children of all ages with consistent in-home support to foster parents and transitioning to family, kinship care, and adulthood
- Community Care – family/community support for clients from our campus-based programs from pre-admission to post-discharge
- Schools, school-based programs, and counselling support, specializing in serving young people who have had previously unsuccessful school experiences and those in campus based mental health programs
- Partnerships with the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District
- 9 campus-based programs housed in individual cottages on our two campuses, each with a specific treatment focus from short-term stabilization of a crisis situation to long-term intensive treatment for complex mental health needs
- Whole Family Treatment Program - intensive on-campus program for families struggling with complex issues including mental illness, crisis management, parenting strategies and child development that includes pre-program assessment and goal setting and long term follow up support and resources
- Professionally supported transitional housing programs
- 7 are designed for young people (ages 14-20) to teach life skills and safely transition to independent living
- 1 offers short-term care for children 6-12 years experiencing a family crisis
- Lethbridge - youth shelter, Housing First program, and in-home support
- Canmore - community outreach and in-home support
- Strathmore - house-parented program and in-home crisis support
- Fort McMurray - emergency housing, support, and mobile outreach services for families and homeless youth
- Fort Smith - holistic treatment for Aboriginal youth, especially those with addiction and maltreatment issues; support for communities and families
Our Requests What You Can Do
Our greatest areas of focus for support at this time are:
Street Services - help give young people a safe place to stay, counselling and therapy, medical care, life skills and job training to set them on the path to success!
Crisis and Counselling Services - your support will provide 24/7 resources in a variety of ways - in person or online - for anyone facing an immediate crisis or managing a life-long challenge.
Family Centred Care - help us ensure that everyone involved in a child's life is considered and included as an active participant in treatment.
Ask us about the opportunities at our signature events - the Never Give Up Gala will be held September 30, 2017 and we'd love to see you there!
Contact us anytime - we'd be glad to welcome you to the Wood's Homes family! Reach the Wood's Homes Foundation at 403-270-1718 or firstname.lastname@example.org; our Community Engagement Coordinator at 403-270-1750 or email@example.com