TRURO, N.S. – The Branching Out Building Campaign for a new home for the Colchester East Hants chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) received a major injection during an official fundraising launch Monday evening.
“We will be the lead sponsor for this dream with a $350,000 commitment,” Darrell Kuhn, president and CEO of the Community Credit Union of Cumberland Colchester Ltd., announced during a reception at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
“We sincerely hope that you will consider being part of this dream with us,” he told a gathering of about 45 people, “… and help make it a reality.”
The branch currently operates out of two separate spaces, with its administrative hub, Friendship Club and some programming conducted at 574 Prince St. The Soup Café, which house's the group's support and employment programs, is at 563 Prince St., while other initiatives are held elsewhere.
In order to expand its space and to move all its operations under one roof, the branch recently purchased the former Bargain Shop retail building on Prince Street.
Monday’s launch was aimed at raising $1.5 million for the initial phase of renovations. The new facility has floor space of 14,000 sq. ft. of which 10,400 sq. ft. is to be renovated in the initial phase.
Branch executive director Susan Henderson said Kuhn’s announcement lends “strong credibility” to the project and she hopes it will kick start further contributions from other sectors of the community.
“The credit union commitment means everything to our campaign,” she said. “And it makes it seem like it is going to happen.”
Combined with a previous pledge of $100,000 (spread over 10 years) from the Municipality of Colchester, total commitments for the project now stand at $450,000.
T.J. Smith, a member of the fundraising committee who also suffers from mental health issues, offered some personal insight to the group of the value and importance the CMHA offers to those who need it.
People who are seen at the outpatients department of a hospital and even those who have been admitted to a psychiatric ward may be given medication but once they are released, they are pretty much left to their own devices, he said.
While living in Yarmouth, where there is no CMHA facility as is offered in Truro, Smith said he was diagnosed in January 2016 with major depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“A few weeks before that I almost killed myself so this project has very sincere meaning to me,” he said.
Services offered by the CMHA offer a sense of hope, which is “very critical” when you are struggling with mental health issues, he said, as opposed to the time gaps that sufferers face when dealing solely with the medical health system.
“I was kind of left on my own,” he said. “They send you back out into the real world with no support other than some medication.”
Smith said mental health treatment is an ongoing and long process and that is why the CMHA support is so crucial.
And with waiting lists for mental health support as much as 18 months in some jurisdictions, Henderson added, the additional services and programs that can be offered through a new, expanded facility will be beneficial to many who require them.
“We believe that no one should have to struggle alone,” Henderson said, in calling on the community at large to support the Branching Out Building Campaign.