CMHA branch tak­ing up new premises

Truro Daily News - - Front Page - By Harry SuLLiVan truro Daily News hsul­li­van@truro­daily.com

A fundrais­ing cam­paign is be­ing launched to as­sist with costs of ren­o­vat­ing new fa­cil­i­ties for the lo­cal branch of the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

“We are rec­og­niz­ing that we need more space. We are burst­ing at the seams,” said Su­san Hen­der­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Colch­ester East Hants branch.

The branch cur­rently op­er­ates out of two sep­a­rate spa­ces, with its ad­min­is­tra­tive “hub,” Friend­ship Club and some pro­gram­ming con­ducted at 574 Prince St. The Soup Café, which house’s the group’s sup­port and em­ploy­ment pro­grams, is at 563 Prince St. Still other ini­tia­tives are held else­where.

It’s been rec­og­nized more peo­ple are go­ing about their daily lives “who re­ally need more sup­port than they are com­fort­able reach­ing out for, or that they are in­di­cat­ing,” Hen­der­son said. To ad­dress those needs and bring all ser­vices un­der one roof, the as­so­ci­a­tion re­cently pur­chased the for­mer Bar­gain Shop re­tail build­ing on Prince Street.

“We’re hop­ing it’s go­ing to be large and open and beau­ti­ful in the cen­tre,” Hen­der­son said, with sep­a­rate sec­tions for a va­ri­ety of pro­gram­ming.

“For in­stance, you might come in for a re­ally de­li­cious bowl of soup (from Soup Café) and then you see that we’re work­ing with sea glass down in the cen­tre ta­ble.”

Hen­der­son hopes the new en­vi­ron­ment will en­cour­age more peo­ple to sign up for the ther­a­peu­tic art works pro­gram or other ini­tia­tives while seek­ing help they might oth­er­wise have pur­sued.

“So we’re hop­ing that hav­ing that kind of open space will be re­ally con­ducive to peo­ple ex­press­ing cu­rios­ity and tak­ing part,” she said.

“We are de­vel­op­ing a full spec­trum of pro­grams around what peo­ple re­ally need in terms of how much men­tal health has im­pacted their daily life.”

The new fa­cil­ity has floor space of 14,000 sq. ft. Of that, 10,400 sq. ft. is to be ren­o­vated in the ini­tial phase at a cost of $2 mil­lion.

A sec­ond phase is pro­posed to pro­vide tran­si­tional hous­ing for peo­ple who need it.

“That is a huge need in our com­mu­nity for folks that are tran­si­tion­ing from ei­ther the Nova In­sti­tu­tion (for women) or from the psy­chi­atric unit at the hos­pi­tal here and just try­ing to find their way, get­ting their feet set­tled, get­ting back on their own.”

Colch­ester County Coun­cil has $100,000 to the pro­ject over 10 years and other fund­ing sources are to be an­nounced dur­ing the fundrais­ing launch.

“It’s an old build­ing and it needs a sub­stan­tial amount of work,” Hen­der­son said. “But we’re will­ing to do that and we know the com­mu­nity will stand be­hind us so that some­body who is strug­gling can just walk in with­out a di­ag­no­sis and im­me­di­ately get some help that they need.”

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