Mosaic News: Fall/Winter 2016

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Fall/Winter 2016

Welcome to the first edition of Mosaic News, Sherbourne Health Centre’s newsletter. Subscribe to receive biannual updates on our diverse programs and services.

A New Look

for Supporting our Youth (SOY) SOY’s services have continuously evolved and refined to meet the changing needs of at-risk LGBTQ youth. After nearly 20 years, it was time to refresh SOY’s visual identity to represent the dynamism and diversity of the program.

journey on Tumblr.

Thanks to a Vital Ideas grant, SOY was able to create a youth-led design collective that helped shape the program’s new brand. Eleven participants, representing each of SOY’s programs, engaged in the redesign, contributing their voices, experiences, and ideas to the branding process. The participants named their collective SOY Bean Co. and documented their collaborative design

The Public design firm collaborated with SOY Bean Co. to develop a logo and visual identity that celebrates safe spaces, appreciation for diversity, and meaningful support that SOY offers its participants (continued on page 2).

In this issue 2

What’s cooking in the Share and Learn Kitchen


Supporting chemo recovery in our Infirmary


Improving surgical wait times for trans clients


Welcoming Syrian refugees to St. James Town


SOY’s 16th Bowlathon a smashing success!


World Within A Block Cookbook launch and lunch


New mental health programs announced

SOY rebrand continued... In September the new brand was revealed at an open house. The event featured a ‘living library’ where participants could learn about the history of the program from SOY alumni and mentors. There was also a community fair with over a dozen organizations showcasing their programs and resources for youth. Following these activities, the SOY Bean Co. participants spoke about their experience working on the rebranding and revealed the program’s new logo and tagline:

Cultivate. Create. Celebrate.

Did you know…

SOY received the NOW Readers’ Choice runner up award for the Best Youth Organization in Toronto in 2015? SOY also won the 2014 award for Best Youth Organization in Toronto.

What’s cooking

in our Share and Learn Kitchen Since opening last year, our Share and Learn Kitchen has been a hub of activity and the heart of many of our health promotion programs. This winter, Sherbourne’s Newcomer Health Team piloted a 10-week program, Newcomers Cooking Together. Through this program, newcomers from countries including China, Bangladesh, Iran, and Sri Lanka came together to share recipes, make meals, and learn nutrition tips to improve their health. Each week offered participants a great opportunity to practice new cooking skills and healthy eating habits. The Kitchen is also the venue for SOY’s Monday Night Drop-In program. Serving between 40-60 homeless queer and trans youth each week, MND provides nutritious meals to participants while connecting them with resources and providing a safe space to socialize. The Share and Learn Kitchen made it possible for a committed group of volunteers to prepare over 2,500 meals for homeless and streetinvolved youth this year.


Creating space for recovery

Helping under-housed clients during chemotherapy A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. Recovering from treatment shouldn’t be. But many homeless and under-housed people don’t have a safe place to rest and recover after chemo, radiation, or surgery. Increasingly, chemotherapy is given in outpatient clinics and at home, meaning that people need a safe place to recover following the treatment. Recognizing this, our Infirmary offers respite care for homeless and under-housed individuals recovering from cancer treatment. Providing care to individuals who are receiving chemotherapy comes with a unique set of challenges.

Cancer safety training ensures the safety of our staff and clients in the Intirmary.

Infirmary client, Frank, received chemotherapy treatment during his stay at Sherbourne Health Centre.

Specifically, it is important to minimize the risk of exposure to chemotherapy drugs for health care providers, cleaning staff, and other clients. When someone undergoes chemotherapy, the drug is present in body fluids for 48 to 72 hours after the treatment ends. Preventing exposure for others in the Infirmary called for specialized staff training and the development of safety protocols. Our staff’s cancer safety training was made possible by funding from CIBC and has increased the Infirmary’s capacity to care for homeless and under-housed people when they most need it.

Building enhanced community space Health hub newest addition to Sherbourne

Another exciting change is coming to Sherbourne. The Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC LHIN) is developing a pilot ‘health hub’, where community agencies and groups can provide health related services for people in our neighbourhood. The ‘hub’, which is as yet unnamed will host programs and services that are short term or episodic and meet health related needs in the community. As ‘managing partner’ in the project, Sherbourne is leading the development of the concept, which will be built in our ‘lower level’, the large basement which is currently unused. We will share more information as it becomes available.


Preparing for changes

to the Gender Affirming Surgery approval process On November 6th 2015, the Honorable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long Term Care visited Sherbourne,where he met with community stakeholders to discuss barriers to care faced by trans people. Minister Hoskins also announced changes to SRS (also known as gender affirming surgery or GAS) approval regulations. These changes will allow a broader range of regulated and experienced health care professionals to provide GAS/SRS approval. RHO Director, Anna Traves and Sherbourne CEO, Hazelle Palmer, at the announcement with Minister Eric Hoskins, CPATH’s Nicole Nussbaum, and Mark Warren, Chair of Sherbourne’s Board of Driectors.

Sherbourne’s Rainbow Health Ontario program continues to work closely with the Ministry on the roll-out of this policy. We have also created a mailing list for individuals and families affected by this change to ensure that they have timely access to accurate information about the changes as they are announced. We anticipate a central role for RHO coordinating and training health care providers across the province once the new policy is finalized. These trainings will ensure that health care providers throughout Ontario feel confident approving clients for GAS which in turn, will reduce the wait time that trans people in Ontario face when requesting GAS.

“This is only the first step for our government improving health care access for trans people. Rainbow Health will play a pivotal role in this work.” Dr. Eric Hoskins Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

WINK celebrates 5 years of supporting street-involved women This December, Sherbourne’s Women In Need Klinik (WINK) celebrated its 5th anniversary. The festivities included a catered brunch that was graciously provided by our neighbours at Daniel et Daniel.


We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone for WINK. For five years, this program has offered low-barrier access to food, safe space, and resources for street-involved women in our community. Through WINK, participants are connected to primary care services and empowering health education.

Welcoming Syrian Refugees

Families arrive in St. James Town and at Sherbourne Government-assisted Syrian families began arriving in St. James Town in January. Prior to their arrival, the Newcomer Health Team prepared an action plan to ensure these new residents will have access to health and social services. This plan includes providing primary health care and mental health services to the newly arrived families. The Sherbourne Newcomer Health Team is the lead organization in Health Access St James Town (HASJT). HASJT was created to improve service access for all St James Town residents, with a specific focus on helping residents who have complex needs, and are disconnected from health and social services. HASJT operates out of The Corner, a neighbourhood hub located in the heart of St James Town at 200 Wellesley. At the Corner, and through visits to other sites in St. James Town, intake workers connect 800 residents to services each year. HASJT partner organizations prioritize referrals received from HASJT intake workers. HASJT is focused on ensuring that the newly arrived Syrian families are able to connect with the services they need to settle and thrive in their new community.

Artwork created by some of our newest community members at our February 11 clinic.

On February 9, the Newcomer Health Team held their first open clinic for Syrian families. Working with a team of translators, our health care providers met with and provided medical services to 11 newly arrived families. The families also received a comprehensive newcomer information package, developed by our staff. Translated into Arabic, this package provides vital resources related to all aspects of migration, from immunization requirements to apartment rental information. This package is also available on our website.

Did you know…

Sherbourne staff has extensive experience welcoming and working with refugee populations. Aamer Esmail, SOY’s Newcomer Community Engagement Coordinator, estimates that 90% of participants in Express, SOY’s newcomer group, are refugees.


Another smashing success!

SOY’s 16th annual bowlathon brings the community out

LGBT Health Director, Bev Lepischak, with members of the SOY Bev-erages bowling team.

While the Bowlathon was supported by many longtime friends of SOY, we also made some new friends this year. Workplace teams from Bank of Montreal and Loblaws joined in, and the team at Daily Xtra did an exceptional job of promoting the event and the great work that SOY does. Not only did Daily Xtra interview top Bowlathon fundraiser, Lois Fine, about her history of supporting the program, they also produced a short video featuring Markus, a trans youth who received support and resources at SOY that helped him overcome homelessness, find work, and return to school.

Held in October, the SOY Bowlathon once again brought together its community of supporters for an afternoon of day-glo bowling fun and raised $50,000 for SOY! This year’s event had an extra special element, as a new team award was announced. In honour of SOY founder, Bev Lepischak, who is retiring this spring, we introduced the Bev Lepischak Spirit Award, given to the team that best embodied the spirit of SOY. This year, the award was given to the SOY Bev-arages, a team of SOY alumni who honoured Bev’s contributions to the program in their name and their costumes.

Not only did Daily Xtra interview top Bowlathon fundraiser, Lois Fine, about her history of supporting Daily Xtra’s video highlighted Markus’ experience of overcoming homelessness with support from SOY.

We are grateful to everyone who helped make this year’s Bowlathon one of the most successful yet and look forward to welcoming everyone back next fall! Interested in supporting the 17th Bowlathon? There are lots of ways to help, from forming a team to donating prizes. Please email Catherine at for more details on this year’s event.


A World Within A Block: Cookbook Launch

This November, the Newcomer Health Team released their cookbook, A World Within A Block. This project evolved out of Toronto Public Health’s Diabetes Peer Leader program. Since its launch, the peer leader program has trained over 500 volunteers on ways to meaningfully engage their communities in healthy living activities.

Peer leaders with the Newcomer Health Director, Nalini Pandalangat and the health promotion program leads, Nivedita Balachandran and Christina Tran.

Our peer leaders chose to engage the St. James Town community through publishing and distributing a cookbook which shares the recipes and tips that they use to prevent and manage diabetes.

Representatives from Toronto Public Health, our partners in this project, receive their copies of the cookbook.

With support from our Registered Dietician, Christina Tran, this project celebrated the diverse flavours of St. James Town cooking through a series of affordable and healthy recipes. The book also includes an extensive guide to the seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables in Ontario. “Eating seasonally is a great way to keep food costs down while including the best tasting produce in your meals,” says Christina. “Our guide includes pictures of all the different fruits and vegetables available in Ontario to help our community members discover produce that they may have not be familiar with.”

The more flavor that you can add to a meal through the inclusion of fresh fruits and vegetables, the less you rely on salt and fat for taste.” For the book launch, community members and neighbourhood organizations were invited to a lunch prepared in our Share and Learn Kitchen by the peer leaders. The meal showcased a variety of dishes from the cookbook and copies of the book, with satchels of spices, were given to our guests to get them started on their path to healthy, diverse, and affordable eating. The cookbook can be downloaded for free from our website. If your organization would like a printed copy, please email


Expanding our programs

New mental health programs address specific client needs Sherbourne recognizes that mental health plays a critical role in overall health and wellbeing. We also know that many of our clients are financially unable to seek mental health support. For these reasons, we are pleased to include the following programs in our mental health offerings this year. Our Mad Selves returns for a second round. OMS is a ten week group for youth who are living with or affected by mental illness. This group provides a space to explore identity, share experience, and build community. Through creative exercises, informal dialogue, knowledge sharing, critical engagement, and peer support, OMS celebrates and fosters the resilience of youth living with mental illness. We are excited to also announce our new mental health program, Highs and Lows. Launched this January, this 6-session group aims to help African, Caribbean, Black gay/bi/queer/trans guys think about alcohol and drug use. The group supports participants in slowing down or quitting using drugs and alcohol – depending on the participant’s goals. Throughout the program, participants explore how using alcohol and drugs contributes to issues in their lives. The group includes discussion of sexuality, body image, settlement experiences, emotions, and strategies to help participants meet their goals. For more information visit our website.

Looking ahead

Happening in and around our community this spring From March 9th to 11th, Rainbow Health Ontario will be hosting Canada’s largest LGBTQ health conference. Held every two years, this year’s event will be held in London, Ontario and will offer a space for health care providers from across the country to meet and discuss best practices in LGBTQ health care. The conference is unique in the scope and diversity of programming, all with a queer health focus. All RHO conferences are well attended and outstanding in content, organization, learning opportunities and inclusive atmosphere. To learn more about this year’s program and speakers, please visit the Rainbow Health Ontario website. The LGBTQ Parenting Network is offering two 12-week family planning courses this spring: Daddies & Papas 2B and Queer & Trans Family Planning. Both courses run weekly from February 17 – May 4, 2016. To learn more about these programs, or to register, visit the LGBTQ Parenting Network website. Save the Date: Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 21st at Sherbourne.

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