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Stitching Together a Brighter Future
Stitching Together a Brighter Future
Posted on 06/03/2024

Ryan Cooper of VOC ServicesTherapeutic benefits, skills development and community connections are woven into the fabric of Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. What a happy coincidence that actual fabric is helping achieve those goals.

Waypoint’s provincial forensic mental health-care programs offer the province’s only high-secure setting to care for men who suffer from a severe mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or a personality disorder, for example — and have become involved with the criminal justice system.

In providing an extensive program of highly specialized treatments delivered with caring and expertise, the hospital’s goal is to decrease risk, eliminate suffering and improve quality of life and functioning for patients. One way that is accomplished is through a range of Rehabilitation and Vocational programs, including an upholstery room, a woodshop, a general store and a copy shop — all designed to help patients discover where they are at in the change process, illuminate a meaningful pathway in their mental-health recovery, and set a plan to build on their strengths and skills.

The benefits are obvious, said Ryan Cooper, an Employment Specialist in the Rehabilitation Services department. He has worked at Waypoint for almost 17 years, and gets tremendous satisfaction from empowering individuals and fostering collaboration.

“You see their progress and their confidence boost and the smiles on their faces, and just the feeling of being accomplished,” he said.

But did you know the Vocational Services program also supplies companies in Simcoe County with a number of products? These include bags for Rawson’s Meat & Deli, aprons for Franke Kindred Canada, and hoods for Honda of Canada Manufacturing. All are made of a durable fabric called Sunbrella that is cut and sewn in Waypoint’s upholstery shop.

Waypoint’s partnership with Rawson’s started around 20 years ago.

“People love them,” owner Doug Rawson said of the shopping bags. “They’re amazing quality. You could hold a horse in them.”

The store gives bags to shoppers who buy turkeys before Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and around the business’s May anniversary. Rawson said it’s a good deal for him, for his customers and for Waypoint, but he also likes that he’s supporting the rehabilitative process and creating a brighter future.

Patients who earn shop privileges are grateful for the opportunity, said Cooper, and also justifiably proud of the fruits of their labours.

“One patient, his family came in and he goes, ‘Here, I made these for you.’ They were just overwhelmed.”

Amidst the sewing machines and cutting tables, it’s another example of how Waypoint can have a profound impact on the lives of individuals facing mental illness.