It's lunch time in Campbell River. At this meal program, everyone is lining up “cafeteria style” — single file on the far side of the room — and chatting away. Among the crowd is Michael, who jokes with the staff and other club members. There’s a quiet confidence about him.
Michael wasn’t always the social, easygoing fellow people know him to be. Years ago, addiction and loneliness took a serious toll on his mental health, and being morbidly obese at 340 lbs. only made matters worse.
Fortunately, a mental health support worker encouraged him to attend a United Way-funded meal program for adults with chronic mental illness.
"I resisted coming for a long time,” said Michael. But one day he took the leap of faith and came for a meal.
Over the past several years, Michael has been involved with the Beacon Club's programs. He says his physical and mental well-being has improved significantly.
"I can't just take from the club; I wanted the opportunity to give back," he said as he enjoyed the baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables on his plate.
When Michael was approached to become a board member, he was happy to accept.
Empowered by this opportunity, Michael’s leadership initiative kicked in. He noticed not every member was able to attend the club’s bi-annual overnight trip to other island communities. Michael proposed that the club redirect funds into a variety of larger, free activities like dance parties and day trips to Denman/Hornby Island. The proposal was a smashing hit, strengthening the community by allowing more members to enjoy the events.
Michael humbly talks about the difference he has made in the club. It's clear that his leadership role is transforming him.
Your donations have made it possible for people like Michael to shift gears and overcome adversity.
"Often people with mental problems are denied the right to make decisions or participate. But here we run the place,” he says.
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