Feature artile out St. Leonard's Society
“This place just instantly felt like home” exclaims Melanie happily about Maison Louise Arbour, her new dwelling which is a part of St. Leonard’s Community Services residences.
Melanie, a client of the Forensic Program, moved in during the month of May and is the first client to participate in this new and innovative program offered jointly by St. Joseph's London and St. Leonard’s Community Services.
This new collaboration establishes two spots for Forensic clients in St. Leonard’s supported residences and programming, and assists clients in their journey of recovery as they transition back to community living. St. Leonard’s was a natural fit as an organization to partner with as they offer educational, community-based support programs/services, and residential centers to assist people in conflict with the law to make a positive change and realize their potential. To be eligible to participate in the program Forensic clients need to be on a detention disposition with the Ontario Review Board with the ability to live in the community.
In addition to her mental illness Melanie also has Huntington’s disease, a physical disability which requires her to use a walker. She has found her new environment to be accessible to her disability and the staff helpful and supportive. Now living in London she is excited to have more frequent visits with two of her five children, and four grand-children, who live in the city.
A special person in Melanie’s life is her fiancé Skip, who she met six years ago while they were both participating in the Forensic program together. The couple became engaged in the fall of 2007. Skip will be the second participant of the program and in July moved in to St. Leonard’s Society sponsored Gallagher Men’s Residence, which is within a few city blocks of Melanie.
As the couple embarks on this next chapter of their life together there is much to be excited about. Melanie will soon be graduating from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and the couple is enjoying their new residences and the time spent together. Melanie says “I really can’t imagine a better fit for us as couple…this is a dream come true. I am so happy that we are at this point in our recovery journey and have this kind of support from both the Forensic program and St. Leonard’s. There is so much to look forward to.”