Archive for April, 2013

Save Street Work Spring Update

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Gina and Cynthia, our Save Street Work team

Gina and Cynthia, our Save Street Work team

This month, we said goodbye to McGill MSW intern Gina and Save Street Work Campaign Coordinator Cynthia, who’ve been working tirelessly since fall to bring back this essential program. They connected with a range of community members to assess current needs and identify partnerships, while raising awareness in our communities about the necessity and importance of street work services. In preparation for the relaunch of street work at Head & Hands, they wrote a report on their findings from other street work organizations across Canada as a resource for future teams. Using their research, they also led our staff through an update of the street work job description and explored funding opportunities. So far, their efforts have secured $37,500, and they have applications to a number of other funders whose answers we’re still waiting on. Funding two full-time street workers for one year will take $85,000. Securing funds for harm reductive support to street-involved youth is always a challenge, and today’s political climate makes it even more difficult, so our fundraising efforts continue.

To Gina and Cynthia, we extend our most heartfelt thanks for your passionate and invaluable work on this campaign. We hope you both have amazing summers! To the rest of our supporters, we invite you to get involved in helping us to bring this essential program back. Here’s how:

  • Send us a tip if you know of a grant opportunity!
  • Get in touch if you have strong writing, editing, or translation skills you want to contribute to grant applications!
  • Spread the word and reach out to your networks!

And, of course, you can always donate directly to the Save Street Work campaign!

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“Head & Hands gave me the support to take on the world, one day at a time”

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Testimonial by Benjamin, 25, former client

I first accessed Head & Hands services at 21, in May 2009. I had just arrived to Montréal from B.C. with no support or knowledge about health services for transsexual individuals residing in Quebec.

I first heard about Head & Hands through my roommate, who told me I could go there to access social and health services on a non-judgmental basis. As a newcomer to Quebec, without a valid medical card, I also could access services without having to pay a heavy fee.

After a brief meeting outside the metro, Anita, a Head & Hands street worker, gave me her card and told me I could call her at any time for clean needles, support, referrals, or if I had general inquiries about navigating the city as a newcomer and as a trans person—all of which I took advantage of as the years came to pass.

For the first time I had a doctor who was committed to monitoring my transition and educating me on issues from how to inject safely to understanding the realities of trans pregnancy. There was a sexual health educator who I could call or email at any time for inquiries ranging from safe sex practices to finding trans friendly alternative health care providers in the city. At one point, the social counsellor Rhonda even made a long distance call to B.C to speak with a family member who was having a hard time accepting my transition.

Head & Hands has not only helped me survive and come to know, love, and appreciate my transness, but has also redefined the meaning of community and family for someone who had very little of both prior to arriving in Quebec. The services that Head & Hands offers go beyond their mission statement and speak volumes to just how much the Head & Hands family is capable of. Head & Hands truly was and is the familial support group that I and many other trans people lack when taking on the world one day at a time.

Though I no longer access Hands & Hands services, as a local trans activist Head & Hands is most often the first place recommended in our community, and has proven itself with the highest regard time and time again.

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Dr. T: 30 Years and Going Strong!

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dr t

Photo by Heidi Hollinger

For the past 30 years, Dr. Pierre-Paul Tellier, or Dr. T, as he is fondly known, has been a fixture at Head & Hands’ weekly youth clinics. “When I started, there was a clinic every week night and on Friday afternoons. To start, I was offered three shifts a week” says Dr. T. Thirty years later, it’s clear that it was love at first sight! Dr. T has not only volunteered his time in our clinic, but also sat on the Head & Hands board of Directors for over a decade. Since the early 2000s, Dr. T has practiced as the sole Head & Hands physician, and has built a strong reputation as a doctor who cares.

“Our approach is different because we make sure to give each patient the time they need. We listen and strive to consider their whole situation,” says Health Services Coordinator Jos. “Many youth come here because they value our comfortable space and our laid back, harm reductive, non-judgemental approach. We see patients who often do not feel comfortable going to other clinics for fear of being judged, for example if they use drugs, lack medical insurance, engage in sex work, are queer, trans*, or are just young and sexually active and need birth control!”

Renowned as a champion of LGBTQ and youth health, Dr. T runs the only informed consent based transgender hormone therapy program of its kind in Montreal out of the Head & Hands clinic. He has also turned our clinic into a popular learning site, sharing his harm reductive, non-judgmental and client-centered approach with innumerable students, residents and fellow physicians over the years. “This is medicine as it should be,” says one client, “people are given the time they need, not jammed into the slot allotted to them.”

Asked what has kept him going after all these years, Dr. T names the Head & Hands environment and staff: “I like the feel of the clinic, and the openness of the people. It is always a joy to come to Head & Hands.” In the words of one client, “Dr. T rocks!!!” Clearly the feeling’s mutual, Dr. T!!

Please join us for a rare “Clinic Open House Soirée” in celebration of Dr. T’s outstanding contributions to youth health on Friday, May 3, 5:30-7:30 pm, at 5833 Sherbrooke Ouest. Free admission, light refreshments, cash bar. Please RSVP. Upon Dr. Tellier’s request, donations to Head & Hands health services are encouraged.

McGill Science Undergraduate Students Raise Nearly $15,000 for Head & Hands!

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H&H staff with the generous cheque from the Science Undergraduate Society

H&H staff with the generous cheque from the Science Undergraduate Society

For the past eight years, the McGill’s Science Undergraduate Society has raised funds for local charities during their October Charity Week. “This year, we chose Head & Hands because of its unique mission and the enormous positive impact it has on youth in the Montreal area,” says Danielle Toccalino, one of the week’s organizers.

“Organizing a week of events running from 8:00 am to 10:30 pm was exhausting, but the team of coordinators all worked incredibly hard and we pulled it off,” says Danielle. The hard work paid off: not only did the fundraiser pull in nearly $15,000, but Danielle also estimates that at least 400 students participated in making the week a success. Wow!

Serve is Back!

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serve

Beyond volleyball with balls: the sex ed relay race!

The eighth annual Serve tournament is making its glorious return on July 28th 2013!!! Get your game on for social change!! This funtastic day of volleyball gathers the bar and restaurant community in Montreal for a volleyball competition in support of the Sense Project, Head & Hands’ peer-based sexual education program offered to Montreal’s youth. It is extremely well attended and so much fun; last year we had 30 teams and raised an amazing $41,000! Come show us your support and grab a beer, some fresh air, or some food, or take part in the myriad of activities on site. We’re so stoked!!

“If this was social work, then I was hooked”

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Testimonial by Becca, 25, front-desk volunteer

Testimonial by Becca, 25, front-desk volunteer

A little over a year ago, I packed up a prospective career in the NYC fashion industry in search of something that would bring true meaning to my life. With no answers yet in sight, I signed up as a volunteer at the Head & Hands front desk, and began a transformative journey that led me to the graduate program in clinical social work that I will be starting in the fall.

There was one client that particularly touched me, a young woman who had run away from home, and who came into Head & Hands one afternoon to warm up. We sat and chatted as she sipped her coffee, not about anything of particular importance, but about enough to allow her to ease back into her chair in comfort. I asked her if she was hungry, and she was, so I prepared a bag from our emergency food pantry. I asked her if she needed a place to rest, and she did, so I made some phone calls to find her a place to sleep that night.

When she got up to leave, I reinstalled myself at the front desk, and noticed that she had paused at the front door. “Hey,” she smiled, “thanks.” And with that she turned to go. Although I hadn’t fixed all of her problems, this teen’s heartfelt thank you helped me realize that I had given her more than just resources. I had provided her with a safe and non-judgmental space to just be. If this was social work, then I was hooked.

Throughout my time at Head & Hands I eagerly signed up for as many shifts as they would give me. I was moved and inspired by the positive and vibrant energy the team created on a daily basis that had clients regularly dropping in for even a quick hello.

I feel so lucky to have been a part of the incredible work that Head & Hands does. My experiences with our clients confirmed for me that a fulfilling life entails supporting youth. I know that I will carry Head & Hands’ values with me as I work towards a future empowering youth as a mental health social worker.

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J2K’s new recording studio releases first hit single!

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For Fraser, it’s important to provide youth with places to experiment artistically.

For Fraser, it’s important to provide youth with places to experiment artistically.

After opening its doors in January, the new recording studio at the J2K teen centre is already making a splash! As the latest in J2K’s many arts and music activities, the studio furthers Head & Hands’ mission to foster youth self-expression. “There are kids coming here who have never heard their voice in a microphone,” says Fraser, the J2K staffer who runs the program. “Once we’ve recorded, they’re like ‘send it to me, I want to share it with my friends!’”

Since its launch, the studio has seen a group of 10 youth come by to record on a regular basis, with many more dropping in. They have 5-6 songs on the go, and have finished one track, titled “I Think It’s 808”. Check it out!

To hear more of Fraser’s music, check out his band at fmhilow.com.

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Join our Board!

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Become a member of our Board of Directors! Support our organization and community!

The Opportunity:

Head & Hands is currently looking for motivated, passionate people to run for election to our Board of Directors. Applications are due April 29th at 6pm.

Who we are looking for:

We encourage all applications to our Board, and seek to create a balanced group to reflect the skills and priorities of our community. Head & Hands welcomes the unique contributions that youth (25 and under) and individuals from marginalized and oppressed communities bring to our organization, and invites these individuals to apply. We encourage applicants to describe the unique contributions they, as individuals with diverse experiences, would bring to Head & Hands in their cover letter.

Requirements:

  • Commitment to social justice and to our mission
  • Willingness to participate in fundraising activities in a collaborative context
  • Desire to work with a diversity of people on common goals
  • Available for monthly evening Board meetings and ongoing committee work (total time commitment is approximately 8-10 hrs/month)

Interested? Find out how to apply here!!

To support us in carrying out our mission, we feel it’s important for the Head & Hands Board to be strong and diverse in terms of skills, connections to programming, and connections to client communities.  Having analyzed the balance of these qualities on our current Board, and asked ourselves which missing qualities would be most valuable to us, we have produced the following diagrams to share our perspective with the broader membership.

To support us in carrying out our mission, we feel it’s important for the Head & Hands Board to be strong and diverse in terms of skills, connections to programming, and connections to client communities. Having analyzed the balance of these qualities on our current Board, and asked ourselves which missing qualities would be most valuable to us, we have produced these diagrams to share our perspective with the broader membership.