Four local organizations that have been helping some of Dufferin County’s most vulnerable residents through the pandemic received $13,000 in Dufferin Emergency Support Fund (DESF) grants this summer.
The grants, which were created by Dufferin Community Foundation in 2021, provide extra support during emergency periods like the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus this year was to help charities enhance their mental health and shelter/housing services.
“Although we’re seeing Dufferin begin to blossom again after two years of pandemic stresses, the charities in our community are still acutely aware that there are deeply rooted issues. At the top of the list, mental health and homelessness – often hidden from our view,” said MaryAnn Lowry, Chair of Dufferin Community Foundation’s Grants Committee.
This year’s DESF grants will support programs ranging from a mental health walk-in clinic to rent assistance for people with intellectual disabilities. The grants were made possible by the generosity of Enbridge Gas and donations from the community. The following are the programs that will be getting emergency support in 2022:
Choices Youth Shelter – $3,000 for Concurrent Disorders Training for Staff
Four full-time youth workers (half of the permanent staff) at Choices Youth Shelter will be able to attend CAMH’s Concurrent Disorders Core training this fall, thanks to the DESF Grant. Currently, wait lists are long and there are not enough crisis beds in Dufferin County to provide immediate mental health and addictions support for youth. The Concurrent Disorders training will allow Choices staff to help youth right at the shelter, offering them holistic, wrap-around care. The staff receiving the CAMH training will then share what they learn with their co-workers, so that the interventions can be practiced across the organization.
“This funding will give our frontline staff access to vital education and training to support youth with concurrent disorders. We are deeply grateful for this grant, which will further develop our professional skills. We know it will have a positive impact on interventions and will support our community’s safety and well-being,” said Erin Goodyear, the new Executive Director at Choices.
Dufferin Child & Family Services (DCAFS) – $5,000 for Mental Health Walk-in Intern Program
As a fall-out from the pandemic, DCAFS is seeing a high degree of people feeling overwhelmed and experiencing anxiety about health, finances, education and other basic needs. There is a pressing demand for timely, in-person services that provide tangible support. Knowing that 66% of clients benefit from one session – and then do not require longer or more intensive help – DCAFS is piloting the Mental Health Walk-in Intern Program. The DESF Grant will allow youth to increase walk-in appointments by 12 hours/week and give out grounding items to each client. The knowledge that is gained through the pilot will help DCAFS expand the program.
“This DESF Grant will greatly assist us to expand our mental health walk-in clinic and provide some great anxiety reducing and grounding tools that youth can leave their sessions with,” said Jennifer Moore, Executive Director, DCAFS. “We know the need for mental health supports has increased through the pandemic and we are truly grateful to have this opportunity to be even more responsive to the needs in our community.”
CMHA Peel Dufferin – $3,000 for Aging Well in Dufferin
The social isolation experienced during the pandemic was particularly hard on older adults, especially if they had pre-existing mental health conditions. Aging Well in Caledon Dufferin (AWICD – pronounced A-Wicked) is a collaboration of 29 organizations serving older adults, focused on their social, mental, physical and emotional health. Beginning this summer, the group will use its DESF Grant to get out to community events and meet older adults who might be at risk. Volunteers will educate seniors about the programs and services available to them.
“Our members will be setting up at various venues like farmers’ markets, fairs and community events to raise awareness, reduce stigma and encourage older adults to remain connected,” said Jennifer McCallum, AWICD member and Manager of TeleCheck. “Research has shown that a healthy lifestyle can prevent the onset or worsening of physical and mental health conditions. With this in mind, we will be engaging with older adults and the community-at-large to promote resources and tools to help maintain an independent and healthy lifestyle.”
Community Living Dufferin – $2,000 for the “Light at the End of the Tunnel” (LET) Project
The demand for Community Living Dufferin staff to help people with intellectual disabilities do their shopping and banking and develop life skills – or just talk to break the isolation – has risen from an average of 2-3 hours/week to 5-8 hours/week over to the pandemic. Their clients also struggle with not having enough money for food and rent, which has added to stress, anxiety and the need for mental health supports. Through the LET Project, Community Living Dufferin will increase health and wellness visits by 20% and offer their clients interest-free and forgivable loans to pay for food and housing.
“We are very grateful to Dufferin Community Foundation for the emergency grant. These additional monies will be very instrumental in assisting people living in our community during these difficult times when their employment is being interrupted by COVID, and when costs for food, housing and bills are also skyrocketing,” said Robert Bingham, Executive Director, Community Living Dufferin.
For more information, contact:
Michele Fisher, Executive Director
Dufferin Community Foundation