Letters of Reference
The following are letters of reference from people who would like to see
the support centre reopen. If you would like to write a letter of
January 6, 2011
To Whom this Concerns,
The more I interact with people,
the more I realize the depth and vastness of mental disorders. Several
people I know are affected by mental illness themselves or indirectly by
someone they love. In my case, I have been diagnosed with bipolar.
With the support of an incredible network of professionals and people
who care about me, prayer, medication, physical exercise, extra sleep
and good nutrition, I am able to live a balanced life. I realize that
many people need to interact with others to hear about their journeys so
that they have hope. I would be willing to share my story at Peer
Support. My hope for Peer Support is that they will be able to receive
the necessary funding in order to help people who need extra support.
I have found Vince to be a
caring individual who truly has a heart for helping people with mental
illnesses. Vince promptly returns messages and actively recruits
support from the community. His willingness to work hard and
persistence are excellent qualities. I would be happy to recommend Peer
Support as a fabulous community outreach to impact many lives.
Louisa Phillips, St. Catharines
TO: Whom it may concern,
RE: New Business Centre
It have been brought to my attention that Peer
Support Niagara is interested in opening a new business centre that will
offer work in various areas to people.
Last year, I connected with PSN looking for staff
to work as housekeepers in my daughter’s company and instead found
support with my own emotional issues. I then spent several months
working with PSN in an effort to get peer support established in
During this time, I was able to provide support
for other members and also gained a great deal of knowledge about peer
support and other mental health issues.
I learned that there is a great shortage of
assistance for people suffering from mental illnesses, specifically
depression and anxiety. Help can be needed any day at any time and there
is basically little available for people in these desperate situations.
Niagara needs a centre that provides ongoing
assistance for people searching for help. The only other option is going
to the hospital, which puts a huge burden on healthcare costs and is
absolutely unnecessary in most cases. People don’t need professional
help all the time, but they do need ongoing support.
A centre could provide not only emotional
assistance, but also train people to learn skills in areas such as
office, odd jobs, cleaning, marketing, even an auto shop.
I would definitely be supportive of a business
centre if there was sufficient staffing available and was supported by
professionals. Personally, I would be unable to assist with a centre as
I have my own projects underway that take a large amount of my time.
To whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter to tell you why I think
St. Catharines needs a place like Peer Support Niagara.
Many years ago I had some 'issues' and had a group
and some one-on-one discussion therapy, but I did not like it. More
recently, I had some medical problems, as well as some stressful things
going on in my life that caused me to realize that my emotional state
was not as good as it had been.
I noticed the former Peer Support Centre last
spring while out walking. I live a short distance from it. In April, I
reluctantly decided to see what the place was like. I almost immediately
felt comfortable there. It was a sociable, constructive experience for
me. I enjoyed helping others and letting them help me.
I have since become more like the person I was
long ago, with added experience of course, in a purely positive way. I
began to open up verbally and became more understanding of myself and
others. I had barely spoken for years and I thank Peer Support for
setting me on this new path.
Please could there be another Peer Support Centre
open soon. It could help many people learn and grow and possibly teach
them to solve some of their problems.
I am willing to spend one day a week, with
exception of Fridays, in a volunteer capacity, possibly 'manning' the
telephones as sort of a part-time receptionist.
Please consider all of this when making your
decision about the future of Peer Support.
Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Very truly yours,
I am a considerably new comer to St Catharines . I was divorced in 2009
and came to live here to be close to my daughter only temporarily until
I have decided what to do, where to live. This was my second divorce at
the age of 55 and although shortly after each one I was devastated, as
it would be expected, I thought, I was strong enough not to fall apart
mentally and financially. I just needed to pick up the pieces and stand
up again. My daughter was the only person I knew in this town. I had
lived in Toronto and Ajax, Ontario and recently Chicago, Illinois and
had no friends or family other than her here. She was a great spiritual
support for me. I was scared, needed to hold on to something, some
people. I wanted to help, have a fulfilling life. Then, I bought a house
and permanently settled in this beautiful town. When I was out
“searching a meaning for life” one day I found the Peer Support Niagara.
I remember the day I walked in and met a few volunteers and Vince there.
I asked them “What can I do to help?” I almost thanked my luck. Finally,
I would be able to help without asking anything back. I went there
dedicatedly a few weeks until it was closed. That is a tremendous,
fulfilling feeling; making a change in somebody’s life, in any positive
shape or form! I always felt strongly that when people “give” they get
so much back in return, not physically, but spiritually. I still keep
contact with Vince, Julie and another member whom I try to help from time to
time even though in a small way. I can’t wait to offer my help to other
people whether on the phone or in person by talking to them; be a
sounding board, listen, offer some wisdom that is built with my
education as a teacher and also my life experience and help change
Still waiting. Thank you,
I have referred various
Homes for Special Care residents to Peer Support Niagara and they
have found the experience valuable. I feel that peer support is an
integral part of mental health recovery.
Mobarak, MSW, RSW
Homes for Special Care Program
St. Joseph's Healthcare, West 5th Campus,
100 West 5th
Hamilton, ON Canada
Telephone No.: (905) 522-1155, Ext. 36639
As a past volunteer with Peer Support Niagara, I
was saddened to find out that the centre was closing and pleased to hear
of its potential reopening. In the spring of 2010, through your website,
I first learned Peer Support Niagara needed volunteers. In those days, I
had plenty of free time at my disposal and wanted to utilize it
creatively as well as in a productive manner.
Doing the volunteer work at the centre gave me the
opportunity to do both in one place. In 2010, I…
- provided peer support to participants
- assumed reception duties
- manned the centre during business hours
- participated in fund raising projects
- promoted the centre via word of mouth
In the future when the center reopens, I will be
willing to give some of my free time either in the office or in the auto
In my opinion the community needs the energy of
individuals with certain challenges to be channelled for productive
work. This will build confidence and enhance their self- esteem.
Wish you all the best in this endeavour.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am a university student majoring in psychology.
I was interested in volunteering and found Peer Support Niagara through
their website. The centers clear goal of support caught my eye.
Vince was very approachable and made the centre a place for support and
created a sense of community. I really enjoyed volunteering at the
centre because everyone was extremely friendly. Every community needs a
place like Peer Support Niagara. Peer Support Niagara created a safe
community where individuals could come together to discuss their
difficulties and contribute to the running of the centre. The centre
created an environment where everyone helped run the centre giving all
of us a sense of purpose. Whenever you walked into the centre there was
always a friendly and positive environment. You never fully understand
the need for a centre like Peer Support Niagara until you talk to
individuals who benefit from the centre. I was fortunate enough to have
this experience and look forward to volunteering there again once the
I would like to express my appreciation for Peer Support Niagara. Having
bipolar disorder as well as borderline personality disorder, I was
blessed to be in the company of fellow people with similar diagnoses,
and having such supportive people in my presence. Mental illnesses
coupled with spending time thinking and stagnating your mind does not
help in recovery. What does help is keeping busy and among fellow peers.
That's what I believe drove PSN so well. We had yard sales for
fundraisers, and small jobs which kept ourselves occupied. I was
honoured to have the opportunity to speak of my recovery at the center.
It was healing in that I had such a receptive audience who truly cared.
Vince is a great person all around. You can tell this man is dedicated
to helping others through their emotional difficulties. He puts his
heart and soul into helping people through bibliographical therapy,
relaxing tapes, guest speaker events, and even just coffee and snacks
with the members. It was unfortunate to have the center close, as it was
both a sentimental and inspiring place. St. Catharines needs a business
like PSN once again. There are few places that offer what the center did
and the gathering of people miss it.
I highly recommend opening it up again, and I am sure more members will
become involved if it is advertised appropriately. The supporters and
drop-in members have become close supports even after it closed.
Although some changes may need to be made to keep it alive and running,
I believe in time the solution can be found and we can once again join
together in our mission to help ourselves and ultimately help others.
SSW student - Niagara College, Canada