July 9, 2019 Come fill your Emotional Wellness cup By Sharon Anderson and Cleopatra Myers, Emotional Wellness Peer Support Group Facilitators. Living in poverty is isolating, and without opportunities to learn from and connect with others, our health conditions can worsen. One year ago, we launched the Emotional Wellness Peer Support Group at The Stop’s 1884 Davenport location. The program was created to build upon The Stop’s work to support healthier, more connected, and self-determined communities, and to offer an opportunity for people to share their struggles in a supportive environment. We’ve since become a trusted resource, where members can feel safe in a space that normalizes mental health experiences—while it also works to reduce isolation, stress, and fear. “I come to the group to feel human.” “We are all family here.” These are just two recent quotes for our group participants. We take pride in knowing that the people who seek our support can be vulnerable and comfortable enough to share their deepest concerns. We know our programs are encouraging hope and unity. Currently, we have two activities: The Emotional Wellness Pop- Up Craft Café: Tuesdays, 1:30—3 PM. This crafty pop-up café takes place in The Stop’s very own Drop-in space. Members can connect, inspire and enjoy a refreshing beverage with us as they facilitate guided arts and crafts activities that support emotional wellness. The Emotional Wellness Peer Support Group: Thursdays, 10—12 PM. Members can strengthen their self-care knowledge and share lived experiences while finding support in a safe space. On the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month, our certified yoga teacher teaches basic chair yoga poses and meditation techniques. Support for the program is growing! Each month we’ve had between 13-34 community members participating in the Thursday morning session, and 9-32 for the Tuesday afternoon session. The program is open to everyone, no matter where they live. Feel free to share the poster with anyone who might be interested in our activities. Thanks to everyone who’s joined us so far, and made this community such a supportive place! Meet Cleopatra and Sharon: Cleopatra Myers Not only does Cleopatra sprinkle her magic at the Stop Community Food Centre, she also works as a Drop-In Service Worker at Our Place Community of Hope, a social recreation centre for individuals living with mental illness and addictions. Upon moving from her hometown in Brampton to Toronto in 2015, Cleopatra immersed herself in many non-profit organizations and support groups dedicated to dispelling the stigma around mental health. Summer is Cleopatra’s favorite season, when she is not advocating in the community, you can find her walking through Roncesvalles checking out the cool shops and boutiques or riding her bike through the Sunnyside Beach boardwalk! Sharon Anderson July is the anniversary of the first time I came to The Stop in 2011 because I needed a Food Bank. Since then, I have volunteered in the Earlscourt Community Garden and the Food Bank, participated in the Community Kitchen and the Bread & Bricks Social Justice Group, taken the Community Action Training, been an Advocate and Mentor Advocate, and worked on the Friendly Stop Committee to apply for a capital funds grant from the city to make improvements to The Stop’s physical space.