Bruce House recently received a generous grant of $50,000 from the Ottawa Community Foundation. This grant will directly support clients by providing funds to continue the REST Program (Rehabilitation & Episodic Supportive Transition) as well as parts of the Volunteer Program, including the highly successful Volunteer Buddy Program.
The Ottawa Community Foundation is a public, non-profit organization created by and for the people of Ottawa. It connects donors who care with causes that matter and serves as a trusted resource to address issues and leverage opportunities in the community. It attracts and manages a growing endowment, the invested earnings of which provide grants to charitable organizations.
This marks the second grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation to support REST and has made it possible for Bruce House to hire Sam Taylor as the REST program coordinator. Sam had previously worked in the former Transition House Program for twelve years, and she brings her wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role.
REST exists to address the immediate needs of people impacted by HIV who are in short-term crisis, or who are in need of support due to episodic disability arising from HIV.
The number of REST clients has more than doubled since the program’s beginning in late 2016. With some 3,600 people living with HIV in Ottawa, many facing the complications of aging with HIV, we expect the demands on this program to continue to increase.
The primary goals of REST are to maintain stable housing while improving health outcomes. Some of these needs have included:
- Help managing health from primary care to specialists.
- Addictions, mental health, and social isolation.
- Help with basic needs such as food, transportation, social supports.
- Assistance with medical procedures, recovery from illness or surgery.
The REST program develops goals in cooperation with clients. Client involvement is crucial in empowering individuals to improve their quality of life and to delivering services in a non-paternalistic way.
The Volunteer Buddy Program dovetails into the work of the REST Program to decrease social isolation and bring a friendly smile to client who often have few—or no—people in their lives. In 2017 over 4,800 hours were contributed by volunteer Buddies, who received training in First Aid with CPR, Mental Health First Aid, HIV 101, and Boundaries. This training enhances the skills those volunteers bring not only to Bruce House but to their communities.
Social Isolation is now understood to be a significant health concern in our society. Isolation impacts mental and physical health, the ability to adhere to treatment for chronic medical conditions such as HIV, and can several reduce a person’s ability to cope with challenges both in terms of their resiliency and in their ability to benefit from a support system.
REST and the Volunteer Buddy Program combine to provide a complementary approach to decreasing homelessness, emergency hospital visits, life in the shelter system, and depression by creating a foundation of care that allows our clients the opportunity for self-worth and to interact positively within the community they call home.
“It is nice connecting with the clients that I once helped at the House, this is great for continuity of care. I have long felt that there was a greater need for support services at Bruce House, which the REST program has brought.”
– Sam Taylor, REST Program Coordinator
“Knowing that BH is behind me gives me confidence and success.”
“It is a benefit to me when the REST Program Coordinator calls me called every week, I don’t find that I am doing so well without that extra support.”
– REST Program clients
“It’s amazing that the simple act of just getting a coffee with someone can make a huge difference in someone’s life.”
– Volunteer Buddy Dylan
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