Meet Shannon Craig: Charitable Sector Advocate and Friend of Eli’s Place

Shannon Craig

Introduce yourself 

I’m an optimist with a heart for social justice, urban living, and outdoor adventure and I’m blessed to share it all with my husband and three kids. I’m also a career marketer who has helped leading brands, large high-tech disrupters, and more recently, had the privilege of working in the charitable sector. 

How did you become a Friend of Eli’s Place?

I was seeking a volunteer opportunity where I could share my professional skills with a progressive organization dedicated to addressing a pressing societal issue.  While I didn’t have a particular focus on mental illness, I was acutely aware of the enormous emotional and financial burden it has on the individuals it affects, their families, and society and was interested to learn more about Eli’s Place. Having spent almost 6 years at CanadaHelps, a charitable social enterprise that ensures all charities have access to the online fundraising tools, I had spent time tracking charitable trends and reflecting on what makes a charity effective. Eli’s Place hit all the marks. 

  • Eli’s Place was born out of an unmet need. In helping their son Eli navigate serious mental illness, David and Deborah Cooper identified the absence of a care program designed to develop the skills to recover from illness and to move from survival to living.
  • Eli’s Place is based on a proven-effective model. Rather than try to create a program, Eli’s Place invested in research and after careful analysis of 33 recovery-based programs, they found a model in the 106-year-old  Gould Farm. You can read about their success here, including how employment rates of program participants went from 14% at departure to 81% 18 months after participation.
  • Eli’s Place has a theory of change and measurement plan to track its effectiveness. With these strategic frameworks in place, Eli’s Place will continue to learn and increase its impact on the lives of participants and those whose lives they touch.
  • Eli’s Place will work in partnership with adjacent agencies that will refer young adults with serious mental illness ready for a long-term treatment and recovery program to Eli’s Place and to whom Eli’s Place will connect participants for relevant services, such as employment services, upon returning to their home. This approach is efficient but more importantly, promotes optimal care and sustained recovery.
  • Eli’s Place has the team to make its vision a reality. Co-founders Deborah and David Cooper have formed a highly accomplished team including an Executive Director with a proven track record in the development of innovative mental health programs; a committed Board of Directors bringing diverse and highly relevant skills and experiences to the table; and, a Professional Advisory Committee made up of pre-eminent healthcare leaders and practitioners in the area of mental illness.

How have you been involved with Eli’s Place?

In September 2018 I joined the Fundraising Committee. The more I learned, the more I recognized that the gap in our care of young adults with serious mental illness is just too great and I wanted to become more involved – so I joined the Eli’s Place Communications Committee. In one year I have learned a tremendous amount about mental illness and the need for a treatment facility like Eli’s Place. This past September, it was a privilege to become a member of the Board. 

What would you like to add to the conversation about mental health? 

I’d like to ensure hope is infused within conversations about mental health. 

Earlier this year I attended the Eli’s Place event “From Mental Illness to Hopeful Futures: Innovations in Treatments.” The message that evening was clear: medical advancements are happening and recovery is possible with effective programs like the one Eli’s Place will offer. 

For the one in three Canadians at “high-risk” of developing mental illness, a message of hope is important. I also believe hope inspires generosity in people – something we’ll need to build the financial reserves necessary to deliver the quality, holistic care that young adults with mental illness deserve.

What does our tagline “Where Recovery Grows” mean to you?

Recovery can be defined as “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.” 

In three words, “Where Recovery Grows” says so much! It inherently recognizes the loss that comes with serious mental illness and the personal journey required post-diagnosis to engage in treatment. It does so while conveying a message of hope that recovery is possible at Eli’s Place.

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This March, CanadaHelps will make an additional one-time donation of $20 for every new monthly gift of $20 or more in support of Eli’s Place!*