Sherbourne Health Centre: Mosaic News - Spring/Summer 2018 Edition

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Spring/Summer 2018

Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of Mosaic News, Sherbourne Health Centre’s newsletter. Subscribe to receive biannual updates on our diverse programs and services.

Twenty years young! SOY celebrates its 20th birthday On April 6th, Supporting Our Youth (SOY) marked a momentous milestone: its 20th year of supporting LGBT2SQ youth in Toronto! Over the past two decades, SOY has provided services and support to thousands of LGBT2SQ youth aged 14-29 to cultivate health and wellbeing. SOY was created from a communitybased needs assessment in 1998 that reflected the serious disenfranchisement of queer and trans youth, who described feeling alienated and separated from adults when they were most vulnerable. (Continued on page 2)

In this issue 3

A personal approach to harm reduction / Update on our new Strategic Plan


A special visit from the Minister of Children and Youth Services


Rainbow Health Ontario Conference warmly received

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New Getting Started group / Presenting at Gay Men’s Mental Health Summit Our CEO wins a special award / Celebrate & donate to Sherbourne with tribute giving! Volunteer spotlight / ‘A Night at the Theatre’ for newcomer health

A note from the President & CEO... A warm welcome to your Spring/Summer edition of Mosaic News! Sherbourne is a vibrant organization and we work hard to serve the needs of our communities here in Toronto’s downtown east and more broadly, through our capacity-building programs that aim to make change across the provincial healthcare system. In this issue we’re pleased to share insights into new mental health and harm reduction programs that fulfill vital community needs. We celebrate a milestone for SOY and of course, we recognize individuals who embody the generosity of so many donors, volunteers and community supporters that is the lifeblood of our work. – Hazelle Palmer, President & CEO, Sherbourne Health Centre

‘SOY celebrates its 20th birthday’ continued... SOY has continued to serve the complex needs of the youth community through diverse programming, including weekly social and support groups, one-to-one support, mentoring, advocacy, life-skills training and connections to resources. Since the beginning, SOY has had a major impact in the community. With over 250 youth accessing SOY each week, many individual participants have built valuable life skills to help them thrive, such as developing the competence and confidence to successfully enter the workforce, and coping mechanisms and resilience to address mental health

Flashback to October 24, 2015: Staff sparkle and shine in costumes for the photobooth at SOY’s Smashing 16th Bowlathon.

[From left] A timeline pays tribute to SOY’s longstanding history; SOY celebrates its birthday with a colourful rainbow cake.


struggles. NOW Magazine reinforced the program’s success by naming SOY as ‘Best Youth Organization’ in 2016 and 2017. Landmark occasions in SOY’s history include its transfer to Sherbourne in 2004, and a 2016 youth-led initiative to reimagine SOY’s logo and visual identity. Recognizing the evolving needs of young people and the serviceprovider landscape, a program evaluation was also carried out in 2017. The recommendations have led to some exciting changes in SOY’s program delivery, which are being implemented throughout the year, and include: a focus on enhanced health and wellbeing through connections to primary care and mental health; a Goal Planning Service (GPS) to help youth feel empowered to plan and reach specific goals; targeted skills-based programming; and further integration within Sherbourne’s other services and supports. SOY’s success is credited to our dynamic past and present staff, youth, volunteers and donors. Each year, hundreds of donors support SOY’s work, including generous individual major, monthly and Bowlathon donors, as well as partners like TD Bank, Toronto Pearson International Airport’s Propeller Project and Community One Foundation. A celebration to mark SOY’s 20th year takes place in late May. Also look out for upcoming fundraising initiatives, like the SOY Bowlathon and Give Thanks, With Love pie campaign, to help keep SOY thriving for the next 20 years!

Community members offer a personal approach to harm reduction ‘People who use drugs know how to provide support to the community more than anyone else.’ This is the core concept behind the Naloxone Peer Outreach Project. The initiative, launched in December by Sherbourne’s Urban Health Team to combat the current overdose epidemic, offers support and education to substance users in remote areas of the GTA through the help of outreach workers with lived experience of drug use and accessing harm reduction services. Five outreach workers deployed in Scarborough and downtown Toronto are targeting areas of higher-risk, active drug use, such as bars, apartment buildings, drug houses and under bridges—areas that are frequented outside of the standard nine-tofive routine—to offer harm reduction support. Workers provide Naloxone kits, education materials, referrals and overdose prevention training that focuses on how to spot signs of and respond to an overdose, and how to properly administer Naloxone. “We’re reaching people who are more likely to open up to a fellow community member

than a worker within a traditional healthcare setting,” says Amy Muli, Hep C Outreach Worker at Sherbourne, who is leading the project. “With relatable outreach workers on the frontlines, we’re able to support the community, establish trust, and build connections in a real and authentic way.” Outreach workers completed four weeks of training to prepare for their roles, and are out in the neighbourhoods 6-15 hours per week. This pilot project wraps up in mid-May, and has garnered great success with 100 Naloxone kits being handed out each week.

Roughly 100 Naloxone kits are handed out every week by Outreach Workers as part of the Naloxone Peer Outreach Project.

New Strategic Plan coming soon! Our new Strategic Plan has now been approved by Sherbourne’s Board of Directors. The plan, which will guide our programs, services and initiatives for the next four years, has been developed over a year of consultations and discussions with clients, community members, volunteers and staff. Client feedback was especially important. At a Client Engagement Forum held in March, we invited service users to review the plan to ensure it aligns with their own wellness priorities and experiences accessing services at Sherbourne.

The plan builds on the strengths Sherbourne has developed over its first 15+ years and reaffirms our commitment to our focus populations: homeless and under-housed individuals, newcomers to Canada and the LGBT2SQ community. The new plan is also an exciting opportunity for us to refresh Sherbourne’s brand with a bold new ‘look and feel’ to reflect our dynamic, unique centre. The Strategic Plan will be launched at our Annual General Meeting, to be held at Sherbourne Health Centre on June 12th.


Special visit to Sherbourne

Hon. Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services On February 1st, The Honourable Michael Coteau, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister of Community and Social Services, and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, stopped by Sherbourne for a tour to learn about our work supporting the wellbeing of youth and our community. Minister Coteau and members of his team were introduced to various programs and services, including an overview of the Urban, Newcomer and LGBT2SQ family health teams, the Share & Learn Kitchen, and our Supporting Our Youth (SOY), LGBTQ Parenting Network, Acute Respite Care (ARC) and Rainbow Health Ontario programs. Along the tour, Minister Coteau chatted with several clinical and program staff to gain an in-depth look at our daily work. He spoke with mental health counsellors, primary care providers and SOY staff about the innovative services we provide to LGBT2SQ youth. The afternoon visit was brimming with enthusiasm, and we enjoyed the opportunity to show Minister Coteau the important initiatives we’re undertaking to help build effective supports for youth in our community.

A new mentorship program for Black Queer Youth Minister Coteau also met with SOY Mentoring and Peer Leadership Coordinator Verlia Stephens, who is helping to lead Sherbourne’s new Black Queer Youth Mentorship Program. This program aims to improve the emotional wellbeing of Black Queer and Trans identified youth ages 14-25 across the City of Toronto, with a specific focus on the downtown Toronto, Jane-Finch/Black Creek and Scarborough communities. Through this initiative, Black LGBTQ youth will gain a strong cultural identity, a sense of


[From left] Sherbourne’s Director of LGBT2SQ Health Carolina Berinstein, President & CEO Hazelle Palmer, Hon. Michael Coteau & SOY Mentor and Peer Leadership Coordinator Verlia Stephens snap a group photo in the 2nd floor Classroom.

“We’re excited to bring this investment from the MCYS to life and make a difference in the lives of Toronto’s Black Queer and Trans youth. By increasing access to Black LGBTQ mentors, youth participants will feel brave enough to be who they are, have access to choices, increase their resilience and make progress towards their life goals.”

Verlia Stephens SOY Mentoring and Peer Leadership Coordinator at Sherbourne community, and leadership, employment and educational skills. Participants will be supported to embrace their intersecting identities by connecting with caring adult mentors with shared identities. The program launches over the next few months alongside the Black Coalition Against AIDS Prevention, Black Creek CHC, Griffin Centre Mental Health Services and Taibu CHC, and will initially focus on building capacity among agencies to best support Black LGBTQ youth. The initiative is a result of funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) as part of its Ontario Black Youth Action Plan (OBYAP) to increase opportunities for Black children, youth and families.

2018 Rainbow Health Ontario Conference in Sudbury, Ontario warmly received

[From left] The Young Thunderbirds, founded in 2014 by the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre, call RHO Conference participants to the opening plenary with drumming; Narina Nagra, Human Rights and Health Equity Specialist, Sinai Health System, with Devan Nambiar, Education and Training Coordinator, Rainbow Health Ontario.

The 5th Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) Conference from March 21st to 24th continued the conference’s tradition of bringing together agents of change in LGBT2SQ health, and by all accounts was the event’s strongest delivery yet. Its rich and innovative programming with an intersectional focus on LGBT2SQ health offered over 50 workshops and presentations, featured three plenaries, and welcomed over 325 attendees. The biennial conference—Canada’s largest on LGBT2SQ health—was in Sudbury, Ontario, on the territories of the Atikameksheng and Wahnapitae First Nations, who are part of the Anishnawbek Nation. The location was part of an emphasis on Indigenous, rural, northern and/or Francophone LGBT2SQ health. Local committee members brought invaluable knowledge to the event’s planning. The conference opened with a powerful start from keynote speaker Candy Palmater, who spoke about the importance of allyship and self-love for LGBT2SQ health, saying, “If you never want to offend someone, do absolutely nothing—and the world will remain the same. But if you want to be a better ally, get to work. Be ready to learn, and to forgive yourself.” In remarks throughout the conference, RHO Director Devon MacFarlane recognized

Devon MacFarlane, Director, RHO, co-emcees with Monique Beaudoin, Health Promotion Coordinator, Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury (CSCGS).

RHO’s 10th anniversary year and encouraged attendees to learn, share and connect. In addition to self-organized caucuses, the conference offered a meet-and-greet for Black, Indigenous and Racialized participants. In the final plenary, Camille Orridge encouraged attendees to embrace discomfort to drive change, including in unexpected partnerships. Closing the conference, Devon said, “My hope is that your RHO Conference experience extends far beyond your time here, that we all leave thinking about what we can take away and do next for LGBT2SQ health. Thank you for co-creating this space and event together with us.”


Getting Started ... when alcohol and drugs feel like a challenge Getting Started, launched in February, is a new group for existing service users at Sherbourne Health Centre who have identified that alcohol or drug use has become a problem at least some of the time in their lives and want to make self-determined changes. Facilitated by Mental Health Counsellors Rahim Thawer and Hajnalka Fiszter, and LGBTQ Health Systems Navigator Ashley Edwardson, Getting Started is adapted from a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) group manual and uses a structured relapse prevention approach to counselling, which helps clients develop coping strategies to manage substance use triggers. “Getting Started provides an opportunity for participants to explore their own triggers for using, ranging from unpleasant emotions, to conflict with others, to social pressures,” says Rahim. “The group is designed to support clients by helping them to create insight about drug and alcohol use, engage in reduction planning and build skills to prevent relapse.”

Participants also have the chance to share their own experiences of early coping strategies, including ways to cope with cravings and boredom. The group setting further allows participants to generate a range of harm reduction interventions before, during and after substance use through a behavioural analysis exercise. Interpersonal exchanges throughout the group cycle leave participants with concrete examples of successfully interacting in a nonusing environment, which can then be built on in other settings. Facilitators will be offering three cycles of the eight-session group, ending in late August.

Sherbourne represents at first Gay Men’s Mental Health Summit On March 14th & 15th, the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH) hosted an inaugural Gay Men’s Mental Health Summit, entitled “Synchronizing Our Impact,” in Toronto. This new initiative in mental health assembled 200+ providers and practitioners to network on key issues that impact gay, bi, queer, two-spirit, trans and non-binary men in Ontario. Several members of Sherbourne’s Mental Health Team attended, including Ronnie Ali, Faith Chaput, Silvana Bazet, Rahim Thawer and Daniel Pugh.


Engaging talks and workshops were also delivered by our Sherbourne team. Rahim addressed participants on a panel and delivered a workshop, entitled “Mirror, Mirror: queer men and body image,” while Daniel and Faith delivered two back-to-back workshops called “Trauma Recovery, Education and Empowerment (TREE): a mental health group that connects sex and gender to trauma recovery & skills building.” There was strong support and encouragement for our programming, and the team looks forward to ongoing engagement with GMSH.

Sherbourne’s leader celebrated for integral role in advancing chiropractic care Appreciation award at a special reception held on April 5th. This award recognizes “those who are forward thinking in their inclusion of chiropractic services and integration into collaborative care environments.” Hazelle was chosen as the prized recipient for being an inspirational leader and partner in advancing the chiropractic profession.

[From Left] CMCC’s Dean of Clinics Tony Tibbles, Sherbourne’s President & CEO Hazelle Palmer and CMCC’s Director of Clinical Education & Patient Care Craig Jacobs come together at a special reception, where CMCC honoured partners who have made notable contributions to the community. Photo Credit: Ward Hails

The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) honoured Sherbourne’s President and CEO Hazelle Palmer with a Vision

The CMCC has been operating out of Sherbourne as a dedicated onsite partner for a number of years. The service runs as a student practicum clinic under the supervision of licensed chiropractic doctors, and is staffed by final year student interns who deliver free, focused care and pain management services to clients.

Celebrate & Donate to Sherbourne! Did you know that you can encourage your friends and family to donate to Sherbourne as a way to celebrate special occasions? Well ... you can! With a tribute gift, any special occasion can be honoured, including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, the birth of a baby, graduations, retirements and many other special moments for you and your loved ones. You can even make a donation on behalf of the guests at your wedding in lieu of wedding favours! “It’s such a meaningful way to give back to a cause that’s important to you,” says Catherine Argiropoulos, Sherbourne’s Development Officer. “We’ve been included in some very special, and very significant, life occasions— from milestone birthdays, to weddings and retirements. We’re honoured that helping out Sherbourne is so important to our community!”

Tribute gifts are a meaningful way for donors to honour special moments for themselves and their loved ones.

It’s also an impactful and simple way to say ‘Thank You’ to someone special. It’s easy! To make a tribute gift, ask friends and family to donate online at sherbourne., or connect with Catherine at 416-324-4100 x 3351 to get involved.


Volunteer Spotlight

For four years, Niru has been an active volunteer on Sherbourne’s Newcomer Health Team. As a former newcomer to Canada, Niru was inspired to volunteer to help other newcomers feel at home – a personal feeling that resonates with her. Niru came to Canada in 2014 from Bangalore, India, where she experienced isolation and disconnect from the community. To adapt, she joined the parenting centre in St. James Town, where she was connected to the St. James Town Community Corner (‘The Corner’), and began volunteering with Sherbourne. “I got involved because I wanted to prevent other newcomers from experiencing the loneliness that I felt,” says Niru. “And abroad, health care is expensive or people don’t know much about it. Then when they come here, there are language barriers and people don’t know about all the services. But they still need support with their health.”


Health Ambassador, Newcomer Health Volunteer

Niru has held many roles, such as Outreach Ambassador for the Flu Clinic, and as Community Assessor offering harm reduction training and resources to the community. Currently as a Health Ambassador, Niru drives community-based health initiatives, including raising awareness about the importance of cervical cancer screening. Says Niru: “Our community is so diverse, and it’s important to share our knowledge so that everyone has good health and a good life.”

Looking ahead: ‘A Night at the Theatre’ A special fundraiser to support newcomer health It’s hard to miss the billboards and advertisements for the Tony award-winning hit musical Come From Away! The musical takes the audience to Gander, Newfoundland, where a community comes together to support stranded passengers in the wake of 9/11. We’ve been swept up in the delight for this show and are hosting ‘A Night at the Theatre’ fundraiser on May 23rd with a special preshow reception and performance of Come From Away to support our newcomer health programs.

Sherbourne provides welcoming spaces for LGBT2SQ young people fleeing oppression; we care for refugees and their families with culturally sensitive health care; we empower newcomer women with knowledge about health and wellness.

Tickets are currently sold out! Get on the waitlist at: Like the folks in Gander, we warmly welcome everyone at Sherbourne. We’re an open community where our newcomer clients come from near and far and experience kindness.

Have feedback? We love hearing from you! Email

‘A Night at the Theatre’ is a chance to show newcomers in our community just how much we care. For more information, contact Catherine Argiropoulos at 416-324-4100 x 3351.

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