‘The help is here’

Rally Point serves as a re­treat for those liv­ing with PTSD


Down a quiet road in Shel­burne County, on a quiet 48 hectares, sits a rather unas­sum­ing ranch-style house.

This is Rally Point Re­treat in Sable River, a place for first re­spon­ders deal­ing with post­trau­matic stress disor­der to re­lax, es­cape, work with their hands, or just get away for quiet time with fam­ily — what­ever they need to do to get through a rough patch.

Up to 10 peo­ple a day may stay here, and two of those are full­time. That’s be­cause Bob and Jo­han Grundy own the house.

Rally Point was the brain­child of Bob, who served as a reg­u­lar and re­serve mem­ber of the Royal Cana­dian Air Force. He was at his first group ther­apy ses­sion in 2014, where a com­mon theme was that those in at­ten­dance didn’t feel like they had any­where they felt safe to go be­cause of their trig­gers, or noise or crowds.

Bob of­fered his home for that pur­pose.

“He came out at lunch and said, ‘ I think I just of­fered our house to ev­ery­body,’” Jo­han said.

“The house was so big, and the area so beau­ti­ful, he just said ‘ come on down,’” she said. “Un­of­fi­cially, for the first cou­ple of months it was just hav­ing peo­ple come down and check out and re­lax.”

By Fe­bru­ary 2015, they had non-profit sta­tus and a board.

Rally Point is open to any­one who has been di­ag­nosed with PTSD and is un­der care, and in a pos­i­tive phase of their treat­ment.

Some peo­ple stay for an af­ter­noon, some stay for days or longer.

About 150 peo­ple have stayed at the house overnight, but 500 have vis­ited for a day or just talked on the phone.

It was dur­ing the first week of group ther­apy, in a dis­cus­sion be­tween Bob and Alan Shep­herd, a re­tired RCMP mem­ber, that the name and for­mal idea for Rally Point was born.

“We im­me­di­ately hit it off,” said Shep­herd, who was a staff sergeant when a PTSD di­ag­no­sis forced him off the job af­ter 30 years.

Rally Point is try­ing to get its char­i­ta­ble sta­tus. Ini­tially, it was funded with Bob’s pen­sion. Now, there is ad­di­tional sup­port from do­na­tions by dif­fer­ent groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions, and in-kind labour for those who can help.

Shep­herd said help has re­ally picked up this year, es­pe­cially af­ter a leak­ing roof af­ter a storm last win­ter caused dam­age to one part of the house where the li­brary was sup­posed to be set up.

Shep­herd is the trea­surer of the non- profit so­ci­ety, and hopes char­ity sta­tus will help bring more fund­ing to the re­treat. Fu­ture plans are to build 10 cab­ins in the woods around a pond, us­ing a do­nated band­saw mill to make lum­ber from trees felled by storms last year.

Be­sides help­ing oth­ers, Shep­herd said Rally Point has also helped him. He said any­one with PTSD needs a pur­pose, and his is help­ing Rally Point.

“For me, work­ing with other veter­ans, who are of sim­i­lar mind, is com­fort­ing,” he said.

“There’s a sense of pur­pose, but there’s also a sense of ac­com­plish­ment,” Shep­herd said.

The re­treat has a wood­work­ing shop, and also the ma­te­rial to make cus­tom pens. A li­brary and the­atre room are open to fam­i­lies of those who at­tend as well, and there is an ex­er­cise room and the vast acreage to walk.

“We’re not a treat­ment fa­cil­ity, we’re a respite, of which there are none,” Shep­herd said. “It’s to come down here, feel wel­come and get your bear­ings. If you want to sit in the li­brary all day and read a book, so be it. If you want to go out­side and work with a chain­saw for six hours, go do it.”

Todd Sisk is a for­mer New Brunswick paramedic and cur­rent fire chief in Sable River, who also met Bob and Jo­han at a ther­apy cen­tre in Hal­i­fax County a cou­ple of years ago. He wasn’t liv­ing in the area at the time, and af­ter a few failed at­tempts fi­nally made it to Rally Point.

“I spent a lot of time here at the be­gin­ning, help­ing out be­cause they were help­ing me out at the same time,” he said. “When I first started com­ing here, I was just stay­ing home do­ing noth­ing — bunker­ing, I guess — this was a quiet place where I didn’t need to worry about do­ing any­thing.”

He be­came a board mem­ber not long af­ter.

“I kind of took it on as my pet project, re­ally,” he said.

He said while mil­i­tary veter­ans are well-or­ga­nized and there are many sup­port net­works when it comes to liv­ing with PTSD. He wants to see more first- re­spon­ders know about, and make use of, Rally Point.

“I’d re­ally like to see the word get out more to the first re­spon­der com­mu­nity,” he said. “I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost for­mer part­ners who couldn’t get the help they needed. The help is here, but we need the word out that there is a place to go.”

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at www.ral­ly­pointre­treat.org


Bob and Jo­han Grundy. Bob used his pen­sion to start Rally Point Re­treat in Sable River, a fa­cil­ity for mil­i­tary veter­ans, first re­spon­ders and emer­gency dis­patch­ers liv­ing with PTSD.

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