David first called JF&CS years ago for supplementary financial assistance. He was 45 and had lived with his mother all his life. She had recently passed away leaving him with no income other than monthly social assistance from the government.
David couldn’t work, nor could he visit JF&CS due to agoraphobia, a condition that caused him extreme anxiety in environments that were unfamiliar including wide open spaces and crowded areas. He simply sat at home watching television and reading books from his mother’s vast collection.
David’s social worker often paid visits to his home to deliver his financial assistance cheque and spend time counselling him. When no family member could stop by with groceries, David’s worker would often go above and beyond and pick up the essentials on her way over.
Over the course of a few years and in partnership with David’s doctor, his worker encouraged him to combine medication with cognitive behavioural therapy as it had been shown to be the most effective treatment for agoraphobia.
Slowly, David started to venture outside his home. He began by walking down his driveway, then down the street. He progressed to going to the corner store one day, and to buy groceries a week later. After only a few months, David was outside every day and was even able to walk to JF&CS to meet with his worker.
After seeing David’s success, she encouraged him to join The Bagel Club - a weekly socialization and support group JF&CS runs for adults with mental health challenges. The Club provides a place for isolated individuals to feel connected to the community in a respectful and safe environment.
Although he was quiet and a little overwhelmed his first visit, he enjoyed the lunch and animated conversation. One member had brought in an article clipped from the Toronto Star and a lively debate had ensued. David left knowing he definitely wanted to return the following week.
It has now been more than a year since David joined the Bagel Club. He is not only an active member but he regularly introduces topics and shares personal stories about his life.
David also found a part-time job at the library. He loves chatting with people and sharing recommendations as he helps them sign out books.
*Names, photos and certain identifying features have been changed in order to protect the anonymity of our clients.