Have you ever walked through the Downtown Eastside or the Surrey Strip and wished that you could make a difference in some way? To be able to help those facing mental health, addiction, and housing challenges?
Maybe you have no idea where you would start, and you’re not alone in thinking that way. But now there’s a clear path for you to take towards helping people in a meaningful way as a career.
Your journey starts at Stenberg College, with a program that just might change your life. The Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker program (CMHAW) preps students to help the homeless and work with people who struggle with mental health and addictions – and it has already changed the lives of many individuals.
It’s not your typical college program because you don’t have to be a ‘perfect’ student to get in. Stenberg is looking for people who are passionate about helping the vulnerable communities in BC and further afield.
We could talk about it all day but the people who tell the story best are the program graduates. Let’s start with Troy (spoiler: he’s awesome). He’s considerate, passionate, and he cares about homeless people who can’t seem to find their way. And he’s also a former opioid addict who spent some time in jail.
Troy succeeded in the program because he was ready for it. He was ready to learn how to help others in a significant way, and it didn’t matter that he had a criminal record or didn’t fit the typical image of a student. Seven years later, Troy has found success in his career and is now a manager at an agency in the Downtown Eastside that provides resources to individuals with mental illness.
Another individual who changed her life while in the CMHAW program is Verlynn. She grew up with a roof over her head but never felt like she had a home. Her time at Stenberg helped her work through some things she couldn’t fully grasp in her adolescent years, such as a father with an addiction or a mother with mental illness. Verlynn “has a really soft spot for people who need help and can’t get it,” and now she is someone who is able to provide professional help to those in need.
One more note: The college has been inspired by the Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker program and is hosting a conference called Be the Change: Changing Attitudes | Seeking Solutions | Taking Action. It’s coming up on March 16 and 17. Throughout the two full days, twelve speakers will present on Truth & Reconciliation, Homelessness, the Opioid Crisis, and Resistance, Resilience & Recovery.
The event is free, and will be hosted in New West. If you want to find out more or to reserve a seat, visit Stenberg College now. Just be mindful not to claim a ticket unless you plan on attending the full day, as seating is limited.
To quote Stenberg CMHAW grad, Justine Flynn: “I find myself overwhelmed by choice, choices that I didn’t think I had a few years back. I know today that no dream is too big, no step too small. I can be anything and go anywhere if I set my mind to it.”
If you think being able to feel that way about your life is worth a two-day conference, details are below.
Where: The Anvil Centre – 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster