Hammers are swinging and the sawdust is flying at Laing House this summer! A few of our fantastic donors made contributions directly towards improving the House, and thanks to them we’ve been able to undertake renovations that will help keep us warm and dry for years to come.
We’ve improved our energy efficiency with new windows, and have stopped leaks with a much needed foundation and roof repair. We now have a gender-neutral bathroom that has far more privacy for our members, and we’ve installed an art sink that will help keep our Creative Arts supplies neat and tidy.
Laing members are becoming seasoned camping pros this summer! With help from our Healthy Living Coordinator Cassey, members learned everything they need to know to brave the elements; from how to pitch a tent to handling wildlife encounters. Camping with Laing is a great way to grow independence and have the confidence to go on an adventure, knowing you have support from other members if things get tough. Getting away from the city stressors on a camping trip can also reduce anxiety and allow for self-reflection in the serenity of the outdoors.
Bridgewater and Yarmouth now have a piece of Laing House they can call their own! Weekly peer support groups are getting off the ground with the addition of Maggie and Donnie to our community peer support team. A Peer Support worker is someone who has lived with a mental illness, and is a role model for wellness and recovery. They’re able to relate through first hand experience, and can talk with members about medications side effects, symptoms and coping mechanisms. They show members that living with a mental illness is something they can overcome, and be proud of.
Jane Machum has been a volunteer with Laing House for over seven years, and has been Chair of the Masquerade Ball Committee since 2009. We sat down with Jane to talk about the upcoming Laing House Masquerade Ball, A Night in Vegas and why she loves to volunteer.
How did you originally get involved with the Laing House Masquerade Ball?
A friend who was co-chair at the time asked me to join the committee– she thought it would be a great volunteer fit for me. I also have a personal connection to Laing through my extended family. This young woman was a Laing House member and the organization did so much for her life. Unfortunately she didn’t make it through her struggle, but her parents continue to actively support Laing House.
Luc used to spend eight hours a day alone in his basement on a laptop. As a result of your support, he has found friends and peer support at Laing House over his 11 years as a member.
Having arrived at Laing House socially isolated with few offline friends and connections, Luc has grown so much during his time here. Diagnosed with Depression, Luc also has Asperger’s, which initially made socialization and Peer Support challenging. Through encouragement, he has developed a strong group of peers with friendships that extend beyond the walls of Laing House.
Laing House is so lucky to have supporters who are inspired to raise money for our organization! Scott Bosse, (AKA Contessa), is a longstanding community enthusiast who is always excited to help us out. Having recently planned and hosted a Cosmic Drag Queen Bingo event in support of Laing House, we talked to Scott about why he consistently makes our organization a priority.
Laing House works to reduce stigma and raise awareness about mental illness through various avenues such as our Youth Speak Program and our Stigma Stompers. You may be less aware of the fact that we also do this by investing in the next generation of health care professionals.
For the last decade, Laing House has invited and supported Dalhousie University students in various health care and social work programs to do their work terms at the house. While this requires staff time and resources, it is incredible to know that all of the students who come to Laing House contribute to our organization and leave with a greater understanding of the impacts that mental illness has on young adults.
I’m sure you’ll agree that Halifax experienced a long and difficult winter this year. Youth with mental illness can find winter time particularly challenging as the darker and colder environment can lead to increased anxiety and depression as well as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Laing House is here to help!
“The food is so good especially all of the soup and chili we had on cold days!”
“Eagle watching was super relaxing”
“I will think more about what I am wearing before I go out now. I learned (through the Dressing for Winter Workshop) that wool can keep you warm when wet.”
“It was so great running at the Dartmouth Sportsplex then relaxing our muscles in the hot tub and sauna.”
Laing House members at Brigadoon for a winter camping adventure this past February.
Going back to school is a daunting process for many. Add to that having a diagnosis of a mental illness, and it can seem insurmountable. Your generosity allows Laing House staff to provide One-to-One Support for members through the often overwhelming process of choosing and applying for programs.