A Message From Our Director About Move For Freedom
Since opening in 2015, we’ve been committed to being more than a counselling office or mental health centre. We’ve been focused on providing high quality, evidence-based support for mental health, and we want our reach to be more. We’ve focused on our impact on the community around us locally, and beyond around the globe. To us, it’s about exponential impact; we want what we do to grow beyond our work to speak into the lives of others in a meaningful way. This is why we’ve partnered with Ally Global for their Move For Freedom event, and why we’re so grateful to have associates like John Bablitz on our team who share our vision and commitment, and go above and beyond to make an impact. I’ll let John tell you more about this initiative that we are so pleased to be a part of.
Move For Freedom
On August 15th, Alongside You is participating in an event called Move for Freedom, which will raise funds for a cause that is really close to our hearts. Alongside You is a corporate sponsor for the event, and I will be riding 150 km with a team of people for Ally Global, an organization that works to prevent human trafficking and restore survivors of abuse through local partners in places such as Nepal, Laos, and Cambodia. They provide safe homes, education and job training to help survivors find healing and work towards healthy, independent futures.
This fundraising event is open to anyone: anyone who would like to, can participate in any way they like: you could do a walk, run or ride with your family or a group of friends, organize an all day spike ball marathon, swim, climb – really anything that involves movement. If you’re interested, you can click here for more information. Mostly though, I’d like to talk about Ally, what they do and represent, and why that’s important to us. I’d like to start with a short story.
People Who Have Experienced Trauma Need Our Support
My grandfather, when he was in his eighties, noticed a problem: many folks were challenging themselves to go through addiction recovery and rehab, and so few had a place to land when they got out. This contributed to high relapse rates. Something as simple as work was hard to come by (and a job is only one of many things that a person in recovery might need). My grandfather took all his savings and bought a farm, with the dream of creating a place where those in recovery could come live and work after finishing their time in rehab. The farm would give these people safety, purpose, and connection: growing food for their communities through share programs, and connecting to the land and each other in a positive way. This story is meant to represent the importance of aftercare. We can help someone give up substances or rescue them from the horrible situation of human trafficking, but this is just the very tip of the iceberg.
Kids coming out of trafficking, like all kids, need safety. They need a place where their needs are taken care of, where they know they matter, and where they can grow and connect with others. The trauma these children experience is significant. I find it hard to imagine a situation where you might feel that you or your pain mattered less, or where you felt more unsafe, alone, and disconnected from people who cared about you. Kids – young kids – have every interaction at a crucial age with someone who wants to hurt them, uses them for personal gain, and does little beyond keeping them alive. I don’t think I need to explain the impact that can have on a child’s sense of self; this can be the only reality they know or remember. Being rescued from trafficking is one step, but where do children that often have no connection to family or caring support go next? Survivors are often shunned in their communities, not unlike someone who has just been released from prison in North America might be.
The Importance Of Aftercare
One thing I appreciate about Ally, and that also aligns with the values of Alongside You, is that they understand the importance of aftercare, and they are committed to quality over quantity. They provide children with the basics, like a bed, food, and shelter, but they do so much more: they help connect kids with a caring community. Kids have a “little sibling” and a “big sibling” that they are able to look up to, and be looked up to. They are connected with caring adults who know them and value them for who they are: teachers, counsellors, nurses and others (please take a minute to watch this video, as it brings what I’m saying to life). Especially cool about Ally is that the majority of their staff are “graduates” – many of them were rescued from human trafficking themselves, and might have gone on to get education, and devote themselves to giving back. These individuals have the unique ability to relate to and understand the kids they work with. The community takes the time to understand the impact these kids’ experiences have had on them, which in my experience as a therapist is one of the most vital steps to recovery. The body responds to trauma in ways designed to keep it alive under horrifying conditions, but it is a challenge to come back from that – even if you might come to logically believe you are safe, your body may not be willing to take any risks, and that can severely stunt your ability to be human: enjoying experiences, laughing, connecting, feeling safe. It takes patience, support, and time to process the impact of trauma, and Ally provides that, which I love. There is no fixed structure – when you leave from one of Ally’s warehouses, you are welcome back at any time, and Ally will continue to support your continued growth, perhaps through subsidizing an apartment with some of your peers, or assisting with educational opportunities.
I could say lots more about Ally, but I’ll just stick to one more thing: their system works. Industry standard is about a 60% rate of reintegration – this is considered good. Ally’s project in Nepal has a 92% success rate over 20 years. That’s incredible. They have helped over 600 children as young as 4 or as old as 20, who stay for an average of 10-12 years.
How You Can Help
On a celebratory note, this fundraiser has taken off. Initially we had just set a modest goal to support the needs of 13 children. The outpouring of support has been so great that Ally has begun the process of opening a new safe house in Cambodia that will house up to another 38 rescued children. I have done work with children who have experienced trauma, and working with just one of these children takes an incredible amount of energy and time, and it is deeply saddening to be with children who have not experienced a safe adult who believes in them and reflects back their worth. They survive – children are wonderfully resilient – but they have no ability to thrive. The thought of being able to help provide safety to more kids than I see in a year just by torturing myself for 9 hours on a bicycle (I’m by no means a seasoned rider) gives me a lot of joy.
Though financial donations have a big impact, they are not even the most significant way you can help. We would love to ask that you spread the word! Use your social media, host your own mini-fundraiser, tell even just one person you care about. Awareness is the greatest tool we have to combat human trafficking. You can also participate in other ways the day of the event; if you would like more information please contact me, I would be happy to chat more about this or anything else.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you’re struggling with trauma in any way, we’re here with you. Let us know how we can help.
I remember when I found music. It was on an old church piano sometime before the age of 6. I grew up around music, both listening to it, and also as a part of my culture. There’s an old joke that Mennonite folk are born signing four-part harmony. The funny part is that it’s not so far from the truth. I remember how it felt to hear notes, and how it felt to play them. I remember how there was so much going on inside of me that I couldn’t figure out how to get out of my head and out of my heart – except through those old piano keys.
Recently, American Idol crowned its newest winner, Laine Hardy. While Laine is certainly a talented guy, I’ve been fascinated by one of the other contestants throughout the entire season this year. He is a meek, quiet guy, who is an immensely talented musician. He hasn’t said much about his history, but you can tell he’s been through some stuff. He has said that he hasn’t had much support in his life, and that’s part of what has made the support of fans so overwhelming for him – and you can tell that it is overwhelming when you watch him on the screen.
The contestant’s name is Alejandro Aranda, or as many know him, simply “Homie.” He said something during one of the videos they played on the final episode that stuck with me. He said, and I paraphrase, that kids need to be encouraged to find themselves in music and express their emotions. It got me thinking about how my life may have turned out if I hadn’t found music. From the little I know about this contestant’s life, I can’t imagine where he would be without music. It’s clear that a key to his resilience, and certainly mine, has been music.
What Is Resilience?
The answer to this question could be multiple posts long, but for our purposes, I want to define resilience this way:
Resilience isn’t finding the perfect balance and constantly withstanding what life throws at you; resilience is finding a way to thrive in the midst of challenges, knowing that your thriving will sometimes be messy. It is finding your way in life, using the unique gifts you’ve been given, to forge a path and a way forward despite the difficulties.
For me this has been using music to be mindful, to prove that I can challenge myself, to express emotions that defy the words that I can produce through the English language, and to find a way to use my own challenges to make something that encourages others and brings us closer together.
What Is Celebrating Resilience?
Celebrating Resilience is a partnership between our good friend Radina of Radina Photography and our own social venture, Alongside You. Celebrating Resilience is a gallery showing to highlight the resilience in our local community and encourage others who may be struggling. The exhibit will showcase 9 portraits and stories of recovery and resilience in the areas of mental health, chronic illness, abusive relationships, and more. You can read more of Radina’s story and how she came up with the exhibit idea here. What is so great about this project is it gives a platform for people to have a voice in their resilience, to tell their story, and to do good in the community at the same time.
We are using the show to raise funds for our Step Forward Program here at Alongside You that subsidizes our services for people who need financial assistance. We’re hoping to raise $15,000 toward services for the community.
Join Us For Celebrating Resilience
We would love for you to join us on June 1, 2019, from 6:30pm-9:30pm at Stir Coffee House to see the images and stories of resilience in our community. Come, and be encouraged by those who have gone through it. Find common ground in the community, and perhaps find the courage to share your own journey.
After the opening, the images and stories will remain at Stir Coffee House for some time; after this, they will be distributed in the community through local businesses and organizations for a second showing.
Click here to let us know you’re coming on our Facebook event, and share with your friends!
Our Thank You To Our Supporters
This project, and show could not take place without support. We have brought on corporate sponsors, and we are looking for private sponsors to continue the project, and to continue the work we do through the Step Forward Program. If you’d like to sponsor as an individual, please click here where you can submit a sponsorship through our website – please put “Celebrating Resilience” in the dedication box. If you’re a business and want to sponsor, please contact Andrew through email by clicking here.
Our sponsors are incredible. Without their generosity, this project would not happen. Please see below for our corporate partners, and we look forward to seeing you on June 1st!
It’s been a difficult couple of months holding back on this announcement, but I’m excited to announce that we will be expanding to South Surrey and White Rock in January 2018! We have wanted to get into Surrey for a while to bring our services closer to home for some of our clients, and we have found a great space in the Morgan Crossing neighbourhood. For those of you wondering, yes, it’s right next to the shopping centre some of you love!
One of the challenges in expanding is that our goal is not simply to expand and build a brand. If we were a retail shop, expansion may come down to different goals and principles, but we’re not – we’re an integrated health clinic and our goal has always been to embed ourselves in the community, find out what the needs are, and try our best to meet those needs. So, our expansion needs to be intentional, meaningful, and to model after our growth in South Delta. We’ve been searching for the right location to allow us to do this, and I believe we’ve found a great space that will allow us to do exactly what we hope to do again – that is, get to know the community of White Rock and South Surrey, find out what the needs are, and bring those services that the community is asking for.
Thus, we are starting small. We’ve found a great space that our colleague, Dr. Jeff Morley has graciously allowed us to come into. It’s one large room that will allow us to provide individual, couples, and family counselling, neurofeedback, registered dietitian services, as well as bring our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) group program to the area. Over the next year, I’ll be spending a great deal of time, along with my wife, Meg Neufeld, getting to know the community better and connecting with key partners to figure out the best way to serve the needs of the community.
Now, we have a bit of a head start. I had the privilege of working with White Rock Mental Health at Peace Arch Hospital for a number of years and have been able to build relationships with many of the agencies in the area. Scott McNeil, our associate, worked there as well as did Share Forde, who provides Dialectical Behaviour Therapy with us. There are some great resources already in the area, and we hope that, like in South Delta, our services will help to fill some of the gaps and that we’ll be able to work collaboratively with the community agencies that are already serving in the area.
Who is going to work in the new office, you might wonder? Well, that’s a great question. We’re kind of taking the same approach as we did in South Delta, that is, jumping off the proverbial cliff. I’ll be in the office there on Thursdays, and likely spending much of my Fridays in the community networking. We are working on hiring staff for the office, but as many of you know, we are very careful with who we bring on because we don’t want to simply hire a bunch of staff, we want to hire the right staff. So, we are building as we go. We have one staff hired, some of our South Delta staff will be working there as well, and we’ll be adding more soon. Stay tuned for more announcements on that front!
All this to say, we’re excited to be entering another community that is near and dear to our hearts. We look forward to bringing the same heartfelt, evidence-based, collaborative community care to South Surrey and White Rock that we’ve been providing in South Delta since 2015. We’d love your help! If you’ve benefitted from our services and know people out that way, please help us spread the word! We’re working on revamping our website and updating things, but in the meantime, here’s a google map of our new location, and the address:
208 – 2630 Croydon Drive Surrey, BC V3Z 6T3
Phone number and fax numbers, emails, and everything else remain the same!
We look forward to serving the community in White Rock and South Surrey as we grow out there, and if you are a service provider in the area and would like to connect with us, please give me a call or contact us; and if you know of one we should connect with, please let me know!
At Alongside You, we’re always looking to see where needs are in the community and how we might be able to meet those needs. Together with our associate, Richard Somerset, we’ve found that there are areas of need in recovery and aftercare programs. Richard and I have worked for many years in addictions and recovery and one of the needs we’ve identified is services for people once they have come home from treatment centres. Of course, treatment centres are wonderful and needed, but what happens to clients when they come home?
In order to fill this need, we have been working on developing comprehensive Recovery and Aftercare programs for clients once they return home, as well as developing relationships with the major treatment centres to provide referrals for treatment for those that need it. The goal is to have a seamless transition and experience both going to, and coming back from treatment to support each client in their recovery.
One of the advantages we have at Alongside You is being able to provide all of these needed services under one roof. We’ll be able to handle individual, couples, and family counselling, neurofeedback, occupational therapy, yoga therapy and trauma-sensitive yoga, registered dietitian assessments and nutrition planning, therapeutic arts programs, and group therapy that incorporates process groups and dialectical behaviour therapy. Along with our community partners, we’ll be tying in exercise and martial arts programs, sober living activities, sober coaches, and more. Recovering from an addiction or problematic use of a substance is a long-term recovery process and we are here to provide the long-term support. We attended the Recovery Capital Conference of Canada this past September and one thing that was highlighted, that we see daily in our practice, is that it takes an individual’s brain two to five years to recover from misuse of substances. A 45-day stay at a treatment centre is a great reset and start to a recovery program, but it’s only the beginning. Our hope is that our Recovery and Aftercare programs will fill the void and support clients on the two to five-year journey it will take for their brain to rewire itself.
We can’t do everything at once, and so we’re starting with a three-month, recurring program that addresses the core needs we see from clients returning from treatment – that is, continued group work and individual counselling. Additional treatments and services are available as add-ons based on client need and interest to support the core program. We also want this program to be open to those who may have been able to stay at home and recover. We will be providing an assessment to see if our program is a good fit for those who may not even have gone away to treatment and are looking for an ongoing recovery solution closer to home.
We’re excited to launch these programs and meet more of the needs that we are seeing. At the end of the day, the number one focus for us is complete and comprehensive client care that is client-centred and recovery focused. Recovery Capital is the sum total of the resources available internally, and externally to people in recovery and our goal is to increase recovery capital in our community and with our clients. Recovery capital is client-centred, trauma-informed, and strengths-based. It builds on the internal resources of the clients, helping each of the clients rewrite their story and to have a life worth living. If we have a life worth living, we have a life worth striving for.
For more information as we launch our program in January 2018, please see our website. If you are interested in signing up, please give our office a call or contact us and we will be glad to start the intake process with you!
While most of us were off relaxing this weekend, Alongside You turned two. To say that the time has gone fast would be a massive understatement. I still remember sitting on the couch with Meg when we had made the decision for me to leave my permanent job in the health authorities and for us to open an integrated health clinic. I’m pretty sure the looks on both of our faces would have read something along the lines of, “Are we really doing this?”
See, for many different reasons, this was probably not the smartest move. I had a permanent position in the health authorities that paid well, gave us health benefits, paid time off, and flexibility for me to do some private work, and take time off when I needed to help out at home after the accident. Meg was still in no shape to do any work of consequence, but she had a feeling she may be able to do something as long as it was based around her rehab schedule and how she was doing that day. You see, we had a dream; a dream that we knew had a real possibility of changing lives, including our own. We had a dream to build a team of people who not only were excellent in their field, but shared our vision: to make integrated health care, that cared for the whole person, accessible to anyone regardless of income. This was a big ask of ourselves, and of our staff because we knew that this would require sacrifices from all of us to make the dream happen.
It is with great joy, and gratitude that Meg and I would like to share a few details of what has happened in two years at Alongside You.
600+ new clients receiving services 4400+ hours of services provided 1000s of hours of volunteer work in the community
Over $125,000 in subsidized services provided
Nobody turned away due to lack of funds
Anyone who has met Meg or I know that we wear our hearts on our sleeves. We’ve both been overwhelmed by emotions over the past two years when we’ve been able to observe what has been happening and the lives that have changed through our little clinic.
As a part of celebrating our two-year anniversary, we thought it might be good to share some of what’s happened and what we’ve been a part of in the community for the past two years, and a little bit of what’s coming up in the next year!
Some highlights of the past 2 years at Alongside You
Starting with one counsellor, and building to a staff of 10+ and holistic services to meet the needs of clients including Occupational Therapy, Registered Dietitian services, Neurofeedback, Therapeutic Yoga, Pelvic Rehabilitation, Therapeutic Arts, and more!
Building a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) program that provides help to some of the most at-risk clients across the Greater Vancouver area and Fraser Valley and has greatly reduced hospitalizations and has had no clients take their lives while in our care.
Providing therapeutic art services for at risk youth, South Delta Home Learners, rec therapy clients from Fraser Health, and more.
Facilitating community art projects with local businesses and groups.
Writing a monthly column in the Delta Optimist about integrating art with daily life.
Starting up a Friday Night Knitting club based on a request from the community, and using it as a platform to support the Step Forward Program.
Volunteering our time with the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Local Action Team and providing consulting work by going into schools and youth groups to find out what is, and isn’t working for youth and finding ways to fill gaps in services
Successfully recruiting one family doctor, and together with the Delta Division of Family Practice, placing him in a local medical clinic
Building an internship program working with local universities to provide clinical supervision and training for Masters students, which further reduce barriers to accessing counselling for the local community
Started the Step Forward Program that provides further subsidy for services for those who need some extra financial help
We were honoured to be the recipients of the Rising Star of the Year award from the Delta Chamber of Commerce, awarded to the best new business for 2016.
I could go on, but we have to stop somewhere. As exciting as it is to review some of what’s happened in the past 2 years, I’m even more excited about what’s coming up!
What we’re doing now, and into the future
More services for kids!
We are expanding our services to kids, including counselling and groups. Starting this month, we will offer Taming The Worry Dragons, a great program offered at BC Children’s Hospital, but lacking in our local community. It’s a great program for anxious kids to learn skills to manage their anxieties.
Next, we’ll be offering the CHI Kids program from Michelle Kambolis, which builds on the CBT approach and integrates art, creativity, and yoga. This will launch in late fall or early 2018.
Rolling out a Substance Use and Addictions Program
Starting this fall, we are developing and rolling out a full addictions program. We will start with a men’s group twice per month, and build to a full after-care program that is integrated with inpatient treatment centres to make sure that clients coming home from treatment have somewhere to follow up and continue their work. We will be working with other local businesses to integrate the full spectrum of services needed!
Expanding our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Program
Starting this month, we have doubled our DBT groups. We will continue the Saturday group that meets from 10am-12pm, and be adding another group on Thursday evenings from 6:00pm-8:00pm.
We are also starting a DBT group for Youth – we’re not quite finished building out this program but look for an announcement toward the end of September!
We are also expanding the availability of our 1:1 DBT services, and Share Forde will be adding 1:1 hours on Wednesday mornings.
LGBTQ support groups
We are working on starting up support groups for LGBTQ youth, and for their families. We are in the development stage and hope to launch these this fall, or early 2018.
Services for Chronic Pain and Chronic Conditions
While we already provide individualized support for people struggling with chronic conditions, we’re expanding our services to create a variety of options for our local community. We’ll start with a chronic pain support group using Mindfulness Based Art activities, starting in January 2018. Stay tuned for details!
South Surrey Office – January 2018
We’re in preparations to open a South Surrey office in January 2018. It will start small, with counselling, neurofeedback, registered dietitian services, dialectical behaviour therapy for individuals and groups, and consulting services and growing from there. Stay tuned, details will be announced this Fall!
Expanding The Step Forward Program
The Step Forward Program has been a great success, and we’re looking to expand it further and make it more sustainable. We’re developing a sponsorship program where individuals and businesses can join with us to provide funding for services, and receive benefits as well for participation. Look for more details this fall.
As you can see, we’re pretty excited and we could go on, but we need to stop somewhere! We would be remiss if we didn’t say a few thankyou’s to those who have made all of this possible along the way. We can’t thank everyone here, but know that if you’ve been a part of it, we are very grateful. We are grateful to the community of South Delta who have embraced us, and used our services. We are grateful to our unbelievable staff who have joined our vision, and enabled us to say yes to people when they’ve needed help and couldn’t afford it. We are grateful to donors who have come alongside us, and given us money to provide services to clients even though they get no tax break – they simply wanted people to get help.
Finally, we want to thank our family and friends. It takes a great deal of support to pull something like this off and whether it’s been helping with renovations, taking care of our kids, or just checking to see how we’re doing, we truly appreciate it.
Meg and I both feel very honoured to have been a part of the South Delta community since 2006, and now for two years as a part of Alongside You. With your support, we look forward to many more years serving our hometown and beyond.
Alongside You is an award-winning, integrated health agency in the heart ofLadner, BC, and they serve a wide range of clientele inLadner,Delta,Vancouver,Richmond,Surrey,Langleyand surrounding areas. They provide accessible health care to anyone in their communities, because people matter.
If you would like more information about what Alongside You is doing in the community, please contactAndrew Neufeldat 604.283.7827 ext. 701,Meg Neufeldat ext. 703, or email them email@example.com.
Have you ever wanted to try art journaling but need a nudge to get started? Do you journal or write regularly and want to take it to the next level by incorporating visual art? Do you want to learn some new techniques and get your hands on some inspiring prompts? Come and draw, paint, write, explore and create at our Introduction to Art Journaling workshop!
What You Will Learn
Working with your own personal journals, you will be guided through how to:
Apply a variety of techniques to alter journal pages using a range of lettering, collage, foil, pastels, salt, acrylic paint, alcohol ink and a range of watercolour mediums.
Carve your own personal lino-cut stamp, make foam-prints, and hand-cut your own stencils.
Alter pages with folds, pockets, and found material.
Learn how to build your own on-the-go art journaling kit so you can journal anywhere!
Incorporate thought provoking prompts and inspirational topics to help you explore what it means to “Be You.”
What You Need To Bring
A notebook. You generally want something portable (that is easy to pop in your purse or bag and not smaller than 5×7.Picking out a notebook is a very personally thing! Do you want lines or blank pages? Handmade paper or smooth pages?
You can also choose to bring an old book and alter its pages, using them as backdrops for your work. Make sure the binding is secure and that pages are not coming loose.
A black thin-line pen or marker. You will be using this constantly to sketch and write.
A white paint or ink pen for writing or sketching over your pages.
Come with the basics and some of your favorite tools and we will provide the rest!
What We Will Provide For You To Use In The Studio
We have an assortment of:
Pencils, ink pens, gel pens, and sharpies
Wide range of papers, foils, tissue, textured and printed material.
Scissors, paper cutters, tracing tools, templates, stencils, and rulers
Tape (masking, washi, duct), glue, acrylic medium, gel medium, gesso
Watercolours (pallet, crayons, pencils, pens), oil paint, and acrylic paint
Chalk and oil pastels, stamping objects, ink, sponges, brushes, alcohol inks, fabric, and much, much more!
Is This Just For Artists?
Absolutely not! Art journaling can be done by anyone! Art journaling is your own personal place where you can experiment with colour, materials, textures, and script. You don’t have to show your art journal to anyone as they may contain your own personal thoughts and your personal creative expressions and that is okay! It is the creative process that is important. Your journal is a place for you to work things out, to express your inner most feelings. It doesn’t have to be perfect as you are using your journal as a place to experiment with your creativity. Your art journal is yours alone and you do not have to discuss the content of your journal with anyone unless you wish to do so. We are always here and ready to assist you in any way.
Have Further Questions?
If you have any further questions, please contact Meg Neufeld at the office by calling (604) 283-7827 ext. 703 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to answer any questions you might have!