Blue Door Shelters

Blue Door Shelters

2014 Team Achievement Award - York Region

Anastasia Sourasis, Behnaz Moeinzadeh, Patricia Okonta, Debora Cruz, Zohra Bawari, Rabia Irfan

Nominator Comments:

1. Our team is consistently in constant communication with one another. Each shift contributes to the success of a client’s stay through shift exchange, team meetings and case management. Specifically, when working on getting client’s housed, each team member collaborates with the housing worker and community partners to ensure each client has all the tools and supports in order to successfully transition into a stable housing situation.

2. Our team has made great impact on both agency programming as well as contributing to the success of client stays. As a team we have spent countless hours finding ways to improve the delivery of services to clients. Namely, the organization, development and execution of client plans; formulating the shift from standard house meetings to implementing psycho-educational groups; and be a trail blazer in educating our clients about harm reduction principles and practices. The novelty and creativity of our ideas was received well and incorporated in the programming of other shelters. For our clients, the wealth of knowledge they receive and the individualized care plans aids them in understanding their current situation and gives them direction on how to make positive changes in their lives.

3. At Porter Place, our team recognizes that the majority of our clients are living with mental health concerns and/or addiction issues. As a way improve the delivery of services, “Team Porter” has focused on case management, particularly linking with community partners and advocating on behalf of clients seeking further supports with other agencies. As a team we have each volunteered our time to reach out to community agencies and create partnerships in order to create easier accessibility and allow clients to reach their goals more efficiently and effectively. Most recently, we have had the opportunity to link with Caritas, Addictions & Mental Health Treatment Centres. This has given our high needs clients priority in getting a bed.

I was compelled to nominate my team because of the dedication, commitment and unwavering support our Porter team gives to our clients every day. Working in front line, we often encounter crises and many challenges. However, our ability to support each of the team members, and help each other out (i.e. sharing responsibility, staying late) shows that we truly love our job and our work place. Each week when we sit down and meet as a team, we always dedicate a portion of our meetings to talk about how we can improve the stay for our clients.

The end result is having more clients successfully housed, (as well as maintaining housing), many more clients interested in and entering treatment facilities, and less clients cycling through “the system”. At Porter, we are by far the busiest of shelters, home to 30 clients, and we are rarely vacant; however, we pull together as a team and really step up to challenging situations to aid one another. I truly believe we are doing good for our clients, our community and York Region!

This past November, we all rallied up together to help out a long time client of Porter Place. Our client had lived with addiction issues for many years and frequented the shelter system for the majority of his life. Porter staff connected with our community partners in the OW outreach department, along with addiction service workers and secured this client a bed at a treatment centre in Thunder Bay. The significance of this journey into treatment was that this client had been using for 30 years and had never maintained a prolonged period of sobriety; it was also his first time in a treatment centre in over a decade. Currently, he has completed the program and is housed in York Region and has not contacted our shelter for a bed. As a team we worked endlessly with this client through one-one-one counseling sessions and meeting as a group to try to transition him into this next phase in life. The client is happy and still contacts staff to let us know he is doing “ok”!

We have spent a lot of time as a team coming up with answers for this application. It ended up being a ‘bonding’ experience in which we all got to recognize all the hard work we put in for the clients, and the shelter. Working front line requires so much work, including maintenance of the actual facility. We have all put in a lot of hours to ensure the safety of the clients through helping out with chores and addressing house hold issues. 

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