What Matt brings to the table
In addition to his considerable professional expertise, Matt brings more than 8 years of experience as a volunteer with Parkinson Canada. Matt’s late father had Parkinson’s disease and many in his extended family have been involved with the organization for years. Matt recalls that a highlight of his volunteer involvement, as part of his MBA training, was working at a high level in Parkinson Canada on the finance side. His role found him contributing and learning on large fundraising and marketing campaigns.
Matt has always been impressed by the depth of commitment he witnesses in other volunteers. A self-described “chatter” and people person, Matt understands the power of attracting and maintaining a committed volunteer base.
What drew Matt to Eli’s Place
As his experience as a volunteer grew, Matt was keen to become involved with an organization in its startup phase of development. Matt enjoys building relationships and providing solutions to complex problems. This, coupled with a deep interest in mental health issues, made Eli’s Place a good fit. As Matt notes, Covid really brought the issue of mental health to the forefront: “The stigma has been removed, the awareness has increased, but in terms of the treatment options, I don’t think we’re there yet.” The Gould Farm model (on which we have based the Eli’s Place program) is something Matt believes needs to be brought to Ontario for the young adults who need this treatment option.
On the subject of mental health
Young adulthood says Matt is “a tricky time in life.” Because of the strides society has made in de-stigmatization and awareness raising, he believes “there’s going to be an explosive need for treatment. And I’m concerned that the options just aren’t there.”
The rural, residential aspect of Eli’s Place is something Matt is strongly committed to as it allows for attention to both mind and body. He goes on to note: “The program is about rehabilitation, working together, having a community, leaning on people and really not pushing people out the door until they are fully ready to go. It will be a different timeline for everybody. Unfortunately in a lot of the social systems we work within it’s all about money and time. Our current systems are trying to help as many people as they can; ultimately, some people may take longer to recover than others and in such a system people just cycle back in and out which doesn’t really lead to a full rehabilitation.”
“The treatment we’re looking to provide will allow us to custom tailor the program to each individual. Medication is only part of the solution. You want to build in routines, patterns and habits to allow people to live with chronic mental illness as best they can. That’s the solution we’re looking for.”
What does our tagline “Where Recovery Grows” mean to Matt?
The Eli’s Place model of care allows “the individual to grow within a safe space. And it’s not about yanking out the plant just as it starts growing, but giving it time to get established and learn about itself. That metaphor in our tagline speaks to what we’re trying to do. Whenever you’re growing a plant it needs sun, you have to water it. It may need some special treatment to grow well and in health. Those are the principles we’ll be following. Giving each individual the treatment and attention they need before they are able to step back into the world.”
“I’m just outside of the age group for Eli’s Place, but I know a lot of people—some I’ve worked with and even some family members—have had a tough time during the pandemic. It’s been difficult to navigate. If they haven’t gone through mental health struggles themselves, they know someone who has. I enjoy talking about the vision of Eli’s Place with people and sharing the hope it will offer.”
Eli’s Place is grateful for the skill sets, attitude and experiences Matt brings to our board.