Eli’s Place is a rural, residential long-term treatment centre for young adults with serious mental illness. Our supportive therapeutic community promotes recovery and resilience through the acquisition of life and work skills.
From mental illness to hopeful futures.
The Eli’s Place Story
The following remarks were delivered by Eli’s Place founders Deborah and David Cooper in May 2015, following the sold-out premiere of Therefore Choose Life at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The inspiring evening was the first fundraising and awareness event for Eli’s Place.
“Our son, Eli, was full of promise. He was joyful, had a great intellect, was multilingual
and very well-read. He was known for his quick wit and laughed easily. He loved to sing and taught himself guitar, which he enjoyed playing, especially when working with children. Eli cared deeply for others and the world. He had so many dreams and plans…
Mental illness became our curse. Typically, Eli began to struggle in his late teens, being diagnosed first with depression and later Bipolar Disorder (BPD). With psychiatric care and medications he strove to follow his dreams… However his progressive illness interfered with accomplishing his goals, fulfilling relationships and so many other normal developmental tasks that lead to healthy adulthood.
He couldn’t fight the battle any longer and took his life thirteen months after his first suicide attempt, just before his 31st birthday. That was almost five years ago. An instant in time that has changed the course of our lives forever, and led us to create the vision we call Eli’s Place.
We have learned much in these past few years and have come so far on our journey to create a blessing from the dark curse of watching a child suffer, tragic loss and infinite grief.
We have learned that one in five Canadians suffers from mental illness; more than a statistic, it’s someone you know. We have learned that up to 60% of young adults with BPD will attempt suicide at least once in their lives and up to 19% will complete suicide, often more than a year following their first attempt.
We have identified that there are no long-term recovery based programs in Canada to deal with young adults with serious mental illness. We have discovered outstanding models of recovery throughout the world, and have visited three American centres, which produce positive outcome studies and measurable successes.
We are blessed with a remarkable Board and committees made up of people who enthusiastically and generously volunteer their time and talents. We have the interest of two universities, and have received encouraging endorsement from dozens of well-respected mental health practitioners.
Eli’s Place will be built to nurture hope, recovery, compassion and resiliency. It will be a place to develop life and work skills; to find a path towards functional and meaningful living.
Now is the time, with your support, to create Eli’s Place and change the future forever for young adults 19 to 35 years of age struggling with serious mental illness, young people like our son Eli.”
Meet our Board of Directors
Chair, Fundraising Committee
Over 40 years experience in manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. Board and Executive member, Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company; Board Member, UJA Federation Israel Engagement Committee; and Past President, Temple Sinai Congregation, Toronto.
David L. Cooper
Co-founder and Chair
Business owner with extensive corporate and non-profit experience. Founder of STUFF Canada, a non-profit created in 1999 to reduce homelessness and poverty in Toronto. 2004 recipient of the New Spirit of Community Award, Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, and the Peter F. Drucker Award for NFP Innovation in 2003.
BA, MSW, RSW, RP
Carol is a Registered Psychotherapist in private practice with extensive experience in the field of mental health. Her commitment to community has been reflected in the numerous Boards of Directors on which she has served–most recently as President of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) (2015-2017). Currently, she sits as an Honourary Member of the Board at Women’s College Hospital, a Member of the Advisory Board of the Child Development Institute, Chair of the Advisory Council of the Women’s College Hospital Foundation and the all-Ontario elected member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario. Carol remains a passionate advocate for excellence in healthcare.
Over 15 years’ experience in Finance; analysis, risk, and, control management. 5 years as a Corporate team captain for Princess Margaret Foundations’ One Walk; Field Service Finance Controller at Schneider Electric Canada.
Chair, Models Committee
Masters of Social Work with over thirty years’ experience in the field of mental health. Developed the Understanding Stigma Program, a project funded and evaluated by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and being implemented in sites across Canada.
Dr. Howard Hamer
MD, FCFP, MSc(A), FCBOM
Chair, Communications Committee
Has been a Family & Occupational Physician for many years. He is an experienced Board Member of the former Humber Memorial Hospital. He is past president of the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Association of Canada running their Board for 2 years. He was the Medical Director of the Function & Pain program at Altum Health, a division of the University Health Network. Presently he is semi-retired having closed his Family Practice in 2010. He now works part-time at various industries pursuing his interest in worker health and safety.
B.A., LL.B., LL.M.
Corporate, commercial and regulatory lawyer with over 13 years of experience, currently as Director, Legal Services for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and previously at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.
BFA, MA, JD
A passionate business leader and lawyer, with broad-based experience across diverse industries in the private sector, as well as board leadership roles in the post-secondary and child welfare public sectors.
Outpatient psychiatrist with the Medical Clinic for Person-Centred Psychotherapy; special interest in long-term psychotherapy and educating physicians about mental health.
Brenda J. Spiegler
PhD, CPsych, ABPP(cn)
Past Director of Psychology, Hospital for Sick Children
25 years’ experience as a paediatric neuropsychologist, serving children with cancer and traumatic brain injury. Board Member of POGO, a consortium of organizations treating childhood cancer.
Beatrice D Traub-Werner
Treasurer and Chair, Finance Committee
Social worker with 30 years experience in the field of mental health; Dean, Applied Learning, Adler Graduate Professional Schools; Academic Instructor, Bridge Training Program for Internationally Trained Psychologists and Allied Mental Health Professionals.
Chair, Governance Committee
An experienced health care executive and consultant with national, provincial, regional, and community health and mental health organizations. An Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health at York University.
Board Member Emeritus
Recently retired from 30 years in the family office furniture business, Deborah was formerly a Toronto Public Health Nurse & Nurse Educator at Seneca College. She has been a community volunteer and advocate for over 45 years. Becoming a suicide loss survivor following her son, Eli’s death in 2010, she is dedicated to the establishment of Eli’s Place. Deborah is a Founding Board Member of Eli’s Place. She also co-authored, with her husband David, a guide for parents who have lost children to suicide, entitled Bridge over the River Why.
Meet our Staff
A highly accomplished, results-oriented decisive leader with 38 years proven success in strategic thinking and innovation. As an MSW, Ellis has a proven track record in development of innovative mental health programs and social enterprise initiatives.
Social Media Manager
Emily is blogger, social media manager and content creator for non-profits and charities in Toronto. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet. She has a double honours degree in Psychology and Media Studies.
Meet our Professional Advisory:
Karen Goldenberg, C.M., former CEO of JVS and Leave Out Violence International, Interim CEO Ve’ahavta. In 2014 Karen received the Order of Canada for her leadership in Rehabilitation Services and leadership in health and social services. Karen was also the co-founder and long-standing leader of Community Occupational Therapy Associates (COTA), the first community-based not-for-profit occupational therapy organization in Canada.
Daniel Hoffmann, BSW, Social Worker, Organic Farmer, Community Developer, Food Programmer, Community Gardening Specialist. Manages The Cutting Veg Organic Farm, a social enterprise to cultivate personal, social, environmental and economic health through organic agriculture
Dr. Sidney H. Kennedy, MD, FRCPC Professor of Psychiatry U of T, Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Chair in Suicide & Depression Studies, St. Michael’s Hospital Principal Investigator, Canadian Biomarker Integration Network for Depression, UHN
Dr. Anthony Levitt, Director of Research, Department of Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, former Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Ann Marie McDonald, current Executive Director of Mood Disorder Association of Ontario (MDAO); former Chair of the MDAO Board of Directors; former owner of a human resources consultancy which provided organizational development, human resources, and management counsel to senior executives in a variety of leading Canadian companies.
Karen Minden, C.M., PhD, founder Pine River Institute, advisor and consultant in the field of social entrepreneurship and philanthropy with extensive leadership experience; special expertise in youth mental health. Karen was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2010, for her contributions to addiction treatment programs for adolescents in Ontario, and for building closer economic partnerships between Canada and the Asia Pacific region.
Dr. Ari Zaretsky, Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Vice President Education at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto