Archive for the ‘Social Services’ Category

Social Counsellor Rhonda Discusses ÇA MARCHE 2015


rhonda, ca marche

Over 330 youth accessed free and ongoing mental health support through Head & Hands (H&H) during the past year. The success of this amazing social counselling program can in large part be attributed to social counselor Rhonda, H&H’s very own “mother hen.” Rhonda has dedicated fourteen years of her life to the organization and loves every minute of it. We recently sat down with Rhonda to discuss Ça Marche and her work.

H&H: What do you enjoy the most about working for H&H?

Rhonda: This is a very special place; our services are very important and they make a difference. I’m really privileged to work here. My favorite part is working with the clients. I love to be invited on their journeys of self-discovery, and to be able to help them through these journeys. My work allows me to explore the many ways in which we impact one another.

H&H: Why is participating in Ça Marche important to you?

Rhonda: I guess, it’s always been what I have considered my personal project…like in terms of fundraising at Head and Hands, it’s a campaign I really get on. We’re so lucky that the Farha Foundation organizes this great fundraiser that allows us to raise money for our programs and services. I also have some personal history with the Farha family: “Ronnie” Farha and I shared backyards, he was just a bit younger than me, and adorable, just adorable. His mother (Evelyn) was just so lovely, and they moved away but my mother kept in contact. Sadly, Ronnie passed away from AIDS.

H&H: So for you participating is like paying tribute to Ron?

Rhonda: Yeah, as a tribute to “Ronnie” and his mom, because to lose a child is so devastating,and also because Ron contracted HIV in the early years, and we’ve come so far now. So yeah, I walk and I tell people about how important Ça Marche is to raise money for Head and Hands’ services, including our medical services which provide HIV/AIDS education and screening to Montreal youth. Not everybody can join us the day of the march, so I say I will walk for you (donors). I strongly belive in the work we do. I carry a heart with me on the day of  Ça Marche. This year I will invite donors for a tea party at my apartment, and make cakes. So this year the tea party will be at my house!

H&H: Any word of advice for people fundraising this year?

Rhonda: Look at it as an opportunity to contribute. The attitude is important, this is my big time of the year. I really push for this one.

There you have it — some great words of wisdom from Rhonda, who passionately invests herself in Ça Marche every year to raise money for the organization that is the closest to her heart.

To join our team or support our efforts, click here!


Check out Monster Academy!!!


monster academy logo

Are you under 25? Are you interested in talking about mental health?

Monster Academy might be the right fit for you!

Head & Hands has long been committed to combating the silence around mental health, a silence which can lead to isolation, alienation, stigma and criminalization. We think that conversations about mental health can be powerful and transformative, and we are pretty excited to introduce you to Monster Academy, an exciting new(ish) initiative launched in Montreal in June 2014.

Monster Academy is a social justice–oriented workshop series designed to provide accessible, anti-oppressive mental health skills training to youth in Montreal. It is also intended to open a restorative dialogue around the silencing and stigmatization of “being crazy” in the broader Montreal community. Monster Academy is based upon the principles of empowerment, harm reduction, respect for self and others, interdependence, mindfulness, and community serving community.

Here at Head & Hands, we believe in the power of youth as leaders, teachers, and educators. We believe in prioritizing and creating space for voices in our communities. These are shared values with Monster Academy.

Monster Academy offers a FREE 8-workshop course for youth aged 16 to 25. Workshops contain practical components such as self-care and mental health intervention skills, guided discussion on mental health–related topics, and other skills such as group animation. They also offer support to youth interested in developing their own community projects.

Monster Academy is currently accepting participants for the winter 2015 Monster Academy: Mental Health Skills for Montreal Youth program. Application deadline is January 31st! Click here if you are interested in more information or would like to take a look at the application.

Donor News: Street Worker Sara Talks Suicide Intervention


Since the re-launch of our Street Work program, Sara has been supporting youth through a variety of complex and sensitive challenges, including 14 suicide interventions. We sat down with Sara to learn more about how she is supporting these youth through their most difficult times.

"These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel."

“These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel.”


H & H: How do you know if someone is considering suicide?

I listen for certain key words or phrases like “hopelessness” or “things don’t matter anymore.” Often the client is someone I have an ongoing relationship with and I’ll notice that they’ve lost interest in the things they normally do. These are red flags. I’ll then ask them, “Are you thinking suicide?” or “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

H&H: How do clients react?

Usually, they’ll just say “yes” or “no.” Or they’ll say, “No, but I think about it sometimes.” I think if people are suicidal, they feel a lot of relief that someone is not afraid to talk about it.

H&H: If a client says that they are suicidal, what do you do?

I say, “I’m really worried about you right now. These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel. It’s understandable you are having feelings of hopelessness.”

If you’re worried someone’s going to kill themselves, and if they’re in a state of shock, sometimes it can be good to be directive, while still checking in to make sure they’re on the same page as you. I provide and explore options with them, such as going to a crisis centre. I talk through the process with them so they know what to expect. I also let them know that we can make the call together, and that I can be with them – they don’t have to go through this alone.

H&H: What kind of follow-up do you do?

I get their permission to build a network of support with them by connecting them with various crisis and relevant support services. I follow up with the person to see how meetings are going with the other organizations and ask if there are other areas in their life they are looking for support with.

In addition to our street worker, our social counselor Rhonda provides support for people thinking about suicide. Our holistic approach means that we draw on a variety of networks at Head & Hands and in the larger community to support those going through difficult times. 

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can contact Sara 514-377-9858 or call us at 514-481-0277 to make an appointment with our Social Counsellor, Rhonda.

You can also call Suicide Action Montreal at 514-723-4000 or Tracom at 514-483-3033.


Comments Off on Donor News: Street Worker Sara Talks Suicide Intervention

Social Counsellor Rhonda talks youth mental health

Social counsellor Rhonda in her cozy Sherbrooke St. office.

Social counsellor Rhonda in her cozy Sherbrooke St. office.

Accessing affordable, ongoing, and non-judgemental mental health support is notoriously challenging in Montreal, even for youth who are struggling with acute or ongoing mental illness. Head & Hands counselling services aim to fill this gap by offering free individual, couple, and family counselling. In the last year alone, Social Counsellor Rhonda supported 196 clients, in 645 visits.

Here, Rhonda shares a bit about her work!

 H&H: Why do youth come to you for support?

Rhonda: Every client has different needs. Many youth feel like the decisions they make at this point in their lives are very permanent and critical to their life path. They’re dealing with issues of relationships, career, where to live, gender identity, or decisions about how they want to break away from family patterns that they now feel detached from.

Some come in crisis over the end of important, powerful intimate relationships.  Self-identity issues are very common and having a neutral ear to listen and help sort them out can make a big difference. Many youth need a safe, confidential place to talk and explore what these issues really mean to them.

What a privilege to have someone say to me, “I have never, ever told anyone else this deep secret I have but…”  I am very careful to honor that trust.

H&H: What do you find most motivating about working with youth?

Rhonda: I feel very clear about the fact that I can make a difference—not all the time, but often.

I have developed models that really work with the client holistically.  We talk about the food they eat, the physical activity they engage in. I use the Native Medicine Wheel to help us look at the balance in their physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual selves. It is so inspiring to see them have a small epiphany, and say: “Oh, ya…This is so true.  This really makes sense. I can do this.”

Recently, in a couples counseling situation, one the partners said that the biggest learning for her was when I told them they were both personally responsible for their own happiness…that they could support the other partner’s happiness but they each needed to create their own and not expect the other partner to create it for them.  This blew her away.  It turned the relationship around for her.

Comments Off on Social Counsellor Rhonda talks youth mental health

Give the Gift!!



Did you know that since street work re-launched in October, demand for our emergency food pantry has more than doubled? The need for our medical, legal, and social services is growing, and so we put on our thinking caps to increase financial support this winter. Allow us to introduce our new fundraising campaign, Give the Gift!

When you donate online through Give the Gift, you’ll receive a package of custom-designed cards, ready to print at home and give to friends and family on behalf of each donation. Give the Gift was made possible thanks to two talented local Head & Hands supporters: web programmer, Danielle Bakhazi, and youth artist, J’VLYN.

No matter the occasion, we’ve got you covered in English and French, with cards for celebrating gratitude, birthdays, anniversaries, congratulatory moments, incredible friendships, a new life, or just because! 

Give the Gift cards are perfect for the person who says they don’t need anything, who doesn’t want more stuff, who wishes they had more time to volunteer, who believes in buying local, who believes in homemade gifts, who believes in ethical giving, who you have no idea what to buy, for the person who loves Head & Hands, and for the person that you love. 

No matter who is on the receiving end, they can’t deny the wicked awesome goodness that comes from a donation being made in one’s honour to support youth in our community.

Okay, so we’ve explained why it’s amazing. But how does it WORK?!

1. Go to our Give the Gift page by clicking here

2. Decide how much you want to donate via your credit card or PayPal account

3. Receive a PDF file with a ton of beautiful cards

4. Pick the card you like

5. Print the card you like

6. Personalize it and send it!

7. Enjoy being the best gift giver ever.

It’s easy and fabulous.

Have any questions? No problem! Call Juniper or Jen at 514-481-0277!

Saying Thanks After 28 Years!


“28 years ago in the Head & Hands waiting room, I found out I was about to be a young mom. At the time I didn’t have any money for the $5 pregnancy test, and the nurse kindly told me to bring the money whenever I could.

As my firstborn grew, he showed brilliance and independence, but developed some self-destructive habits. As a teen he became chemically dependant and I needed outside support. When he became too old for Youth Protection and his habits were more than the family could endure, I was faced with the decision to ask him to leave home.

Through one social worker or another, he was introduced to Head & Hands. He spoke of people who helped him with various issues he faced, how they gave help but also treated him with dignity and respect, no matter how frazzled or desperate he was.

My son is now clean, and working as a chef. I am a single mother, working toward a career in Human Relations. Now it is time to give back, open my wallet and pay the $5 I have owed since 1984!”

Dana, NDG mother

Clients, give us feedback!


As part of our strategic planning process, we’re seeking information from clients who currently use our services or have used our services within the last year. If you have a few minutes to fill out this short survey, please help us out! We would really appreciate your input so we can consider you as we plan our future!

Comments Off on Clients, give us feedback!

Did You Know?


A lot of you probably know about services like our medical and legal clinics, counseling, and Sense Project sexual health workshops–at least based on how many phone calls we get about them! Today we’d like to highlight a few of our less visible services. Did you know that Head & Hands offers…

  • Accompaniment! Sometimes life throws you situations that can be confusing or scary.  Our team is available to go with you to your abortion appointment or court date to provide support and help clarify the process.
  • Tons of community workshops! Besides sex ed, we’ve got workshops on racial profiling, legal rights, drugs, healthy boundaries, and relationships. We are often able to tailor workshops to the needs of your school, group home, community centre, or organization. One example? “Paddling the Pink Canoe: The Importance of Talking About Female Sexual Pleasure.”
  • Food Pantry! Up to twice a month, youth can drop by the main offices to pick up groceries intended to last 1-2 days in emergency situations.
  • Free tutoring! Every fall, we match students aged 12 – 18 with volunteer tutors based on scheduling and subject. The pairs work together weekly at Head & Hands.

Why I Commit: Because Sex Ed Makes a Big Impact!


Bob Edgar

Upon the recommendation of Michele Thibodeau-Deguire at Centraide, Bob came to Head & Hands with a desire to to give back. He says he “walked in the door and stayed five years,” serving two terms on the Head & Hands board of directors, driving carfuls of hay around, and volunteering as a math and science tutor. Here, this chocolate-chip cookie and opera aficionado tells us about dining in the shadow of the Rolling Stones, and why he stays connected as a monthly donor.

Name: Bob Edgar
Monthly since: May 2009
Day job: Retired… but I still periodically consult in the industry where I worked.
Languages spoken: English, French and there is Dutch waiting to be unlocked after a long absence of use.
Other than being a monthly, how do you or how have you connected with Head & Hands: I started as a volunteer, helping students with math and science, and hauling hay in my car for a Halloween gig (editor’s note: lore has it that this was for a sweet Meow Mix fundraiser for H&H!). After that I was on the board for four years. I learned a lot more than I gave.
As a teenager I was passionate about: Golf.
Song I have stuck in my head right now: “The First time I Ever Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
Fave MTL restaurant: XO in the Hotel Le St-James, where the Rolling Stones stay. I can only afford to go once every five years.
Passions: Golf, opera, and long distance travel once every two years.
First thing I do when I get home is: Whistle to Micheline to see if she is at home (she whistles back) and then open the fridge.
Standby or favorite dance move: I just love (to watch) tango.
Celebrity crush (dead or alive): Ann Margret
Can’t live without: Chocolate chip cookies and ice cream – and Micheline.
One wish: That our society (and our governments in particular) would be more caring.
Free trip, where do you go? Back to the islands of Greece – especially Santorini
On a lazy afternoon I: sit on my balcony, reading and dozing (summer only).
Why I commit to Head & Hands: If people did not give back to their community, we would all be so much worse off. I can’t bring myself to pick one service at Head & Hands over another, but perhaps the Sense Project could potentially have the greatest overall impact.



This is the brand new Head & Hands blog, where you’ll find info about upcoming events, our members and donors, and  recent fun and accomplishments in our programs. We’ll have a few regulars, like advice in the Ask Rhonda feature, and you can expect an update once a week on Wednesday evenings! In March, you can look forward to Meeting our Monthlies and learning about some of our most relied-upon members.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your favorite RSS reader, or just check back often–we’re excited to see you around!