“I heard about Streetohome 12 years ago from friends who spoke highly of their work around housing and mental health. My wife, Heather, and I had led fundraising efforts for depression research at UBC, and my interest in that and Streetohome’s work aligned. The more time you spend with Streetohome, the greater the realization becomes that while mental health and/or substance use may be a component for some, for others – it is plain old bad luck,” says Lloyd Craig, Streetohome Board Co-Vice-Chair and former CEO, Coast Capital Savings.
“One of our recent ‘ahas’ has been around the power of connection to improve peoples’ chances to succeed at what they want to do and how they can best move along their preferred life path. Everyone requires people in their lives to stay grounded. We all need a club where we feel like we belong. Like the theme song from the television sitcom Cheers – you want to go ‘where everybody knows your name.’”
Since joining the Board in 2010, Lloyd has learned plenty about the complex, multi-faceted challenges homelessness presents and shared that knowledge with his family. Lloyd, as well as his son Matthew and grandson Malcolm, have each donated their time, efforts, and generosity to Streetohome over the years. They are impressed by the holistic, connection-based approach taken by the models that Streetohome brokers and leverages to help individuals improve their wellbeing and move on with their lives.
“So much of the work Streetohome does is intertwined with other systems – mental health, substance use, employment – and I was happy to be able to rally the Avison Young team around Streetohome during our Days of Giving, as well as bring a fresh set of eyes in the search for a location for Delancey Street,” says Matthew. “We lost my brother to mental health and suicide, and we see the effects of homelessness everyday in our personal and work life. The connection we feel as being part of a team, or being a part of a family, is something that’s missing for so many.”
In 2016, Streetohome shifted its focus towards the prevention of homelessness and explored how to best fill gaps to address root causes including disconnection, unemployment, mental health, and substance use. Over the last six years, Streetohome has developed business cases for Delancey Street, Addiction Recovery Community Housing, Want2 – the Life Intentions Action Planner app, Shared Housing, and Recovery Community Centres (including Recovery Café). Each promotes personal agency, a sense of belonging, mutual concern and collective accountability.
“If I imagine myself in a similar situation – without housing, having challenges around mental health or substance use and feeling isolated and stigmatized – I know that it would be almost impossible to get out of that situation without a solid support system and community to rally behind me,” says Malcolm.
“Streetohome’s most recent initiatives, such as the Recovery Café or Adapted Therapeutic Community, provide a venue where people in recovery – whether that’s from homelessness, substance use, mental health challenges, crime, unemployment or loneliness – can meet others and form friendships, pursue goals, and gain a sense of belonging in their daily lives,” says Lloyd.
“People who are homeless need that sense of belonging and the support that comes with it – they need to know that they belong here on this earth as much as anyone else,” says Malcolm. “Our society places a lot of value on gritting your teeth and working through it alone, but nothing monumental can be achieved without help. That’s why we must help people at-risk – because they don’t have support structures. Streetohome’s initiatives help foster an individual’s support system so that they can achieve something monumental.”