Chris Irving loves coming to Connections Place.
“It’s really made a difference in my life, and there’s a lot of fantastic people changing the stigma from mental illness to mental wellness,” the Connections Place member says.
The Victoria non-profit is a sanctuary where people with mental health challenges can gain confidence and feel valued.
“I was diagnosed bipolar about 12 years ago and I was on the wrong medication for about 10 years,” an emotional Chris says. “I got on the right medication a year ago August, and it makes a heck of a lot of difference. And coming here gives me a purpose.”
There are jobs to help out with, new skills to learn, and even a transitional employment program to get people back on their feet.
“I was unemployed, on the edge of homelessness, living on my aunt’s couch, and through the support and just safety net of being able to come here every day and just the support and kindness of everyone here, I’m now gainfully employed,” member Sage Kittlin Galatyne tells us.
Success stories like that are why the Connections Place team is so excited to expand its reach in a new, permanent, downtown location.
“We’re super excited to be here closer to downtown, more connected with the local businesses, and able to sort of build our membership and presence in downtown Victoria,” Connections Place program manager and acting executive director Neelam Pahal says.
It’s a big improvement over the former temporary location at Knox Presbyterian Church, which had to be set up every morning and taken down each night so others could use the facility.
“It has been such a blessing to secure our funding,” Neelam says. “We look forward to growing our community and connecting more people to the services that we provide in mental health.”
To help raise funds for a kitchen renovation and expanded evening and weekend programming, Connections Place is holding a gala on Oct. 26.
“The fundraising gala is really important because it gets us a lot of our funding and some of our community connections as well,” explains Sage.
Sage and other members have been helping with silent auction items.
“It’s really nice to be able to give back,” Sage says. “It’s one of the things that I find most useful about the Clubhouse is to feel useful, to feel like my skills matter.”
Connections Place now has about 300 members who can get help with their wellness, employment, housing and education-related goals.
“Ultimately, it’s a place to build relationships and get connected to other resources as well because the more connected a person is, the better their journey and recovery,” Neelam says.
Gala tickets are available via this link and if you’d like to donate a silent auction item, the deadline for auction items is Oct. 20.