Carol Cowan-Levine, Our Board Chair, Reflects on the Need for Eli’s Place with Poignancy & Passion

Carol Cowan-Levine, our board chair recently delivered a very powerful speech at our film night. If you were unable to hear Carol speak in person, or if you would like to hear her words again, her remarks are reprinted here.

Good evening and welcome.

I do indeed have the enormous privilege of being the face of Eli’s Place for this very special evening.

But I am also the “face” of staggering loss. Standing here now remembering that precisely six years ago tonight, my daughter chose to end her own life.

I am as well the “face” of exhaustion for all the families who have struggled tirelessly to keep their own from making that same choice.

And I am the “face” of frustration for all the young adults and their families who have found themselves in the revolving door of the Ontario mental health system.

So Eli’s Place Is indeed critically essential, more now than ever — just look at the numbers — close to 700,000 between the ages of 18 and 35 in Ontario are living with serious mental illness and only 20% will receive appropriate treatment!

Many of you are familiar with Eli’s Place, some not, so in summary and with pride, I say we are a vibrant organization, not simply a project!

We are a 15-member volunteer Board of Directors with a superb variety of professionals around the board table many of whom are here this evening…. and a  number of part-time staff in administration, finance, social media, communications and fundraising.

We have a professional Advisory Board, a peer Advisory Board, and a 5 member Honorary Board of Directors.

We have been affirmed by a number of leaders in the healthcare sector, in government and beyond, all who have confirmed Eli’s Place as the essential missing piece in the Ontario mental health landscape.

We need to make this happen!

We are currently in the quiet phase of a $4 million Capital Campaign and once successfully completed,  will open into a second Capital Campaign of $15m.  Many conversations with individuals and foundations are currently in process.

We are not simply a nice idea! Eli’s Place will be a six-month residential treatment center. Rural, rooted in the land and modeled after the Gould Farm In Massachusetts, a resoundingly successful organization with over 100 years of success stories behind it. 

Much of the restoration and healing comes not solely from therapies offered, but from the activity itself, providing a sense of purpose, building skills and competencies, and most importantly, providing a sense of belonging to a community. 

A first of its kind in Canada, we will have 40 residents for a treatment period of six months, 80 over the course of a year, and thereafter a transitional treatment program as well. No resident is abandoned and no one left behind.

We will also offer research and evaluation, as well as knowledge transfer, and it is a model that can be replicated across the country. The existence of Eli’s Place will return dollars to the province, dollars excessively spent on multiple emergency visits, homelessness, and unemployment. We will be saving dollars as well as saving lives. 

Our urgent focus is to secure a suitable property to call home. Currently, we are in active conversations with many, including discussions pertaining to a potential land partnership with a major Ontario university, with considerable acreage involved.

And so we continue to build, to develop, to move forward in our work to bring EP to fruition.

An apt quotation I recently read says:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed people can change the world;
indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” 

So, to each and every one of you here this evening, my heartfelt thanks for being on this journey with us.

Eli’s Place will be a rural, residential treatment program for young adults with serious mental illness. To learn more about our mission and our proven-effective model click here.

Carol Cowan-Levine | Eli’s Place Board Chair

Carol is a Registered Psychotherapist in private practice and a passionate advocate for excellence in healthcare. Past President of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO), Carol currently sits as an Honorary 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 elected member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario.

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