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A Dollar A Day foundation launches in St. John's, aims to change front lines of mental health

From left, businessman Brendan Paddick, musician Alan Doyle and Dr. Andrew Furey at the launch of their A Dollar A Day organization Tuesday at The Rooms in St. John’s.
From left, businessman Brendan Paddick, musician Alan Doyle and Dr. Andrew Furey at the launch of their A Dollar A Day organization Tuesday at The Rooms in St. John’s. - Joe Gibbons

It sounds simple, because it is — donating your pocket change can make a huge difference in the life of that person you are seated next to on the bus, or is in the next booth at the coffee shop or sitting at your dinner table.

That is the basis for a new program — A Dollar A Day — launched Tuesday at The Rooms in St. John’s, with a goal of raising funds to close the gap between the availability of mental health and addictions programs and the growing need for them.

The organization was founded by businessman Brendan Paddick, musician Alan Doyle and Dr. Andrew Furey, and its goal is to make changes in the availability of help for people with mental health and addictions issues.

A Dollar A Day will provide funding to programs that address the needs of people with mental health and addictions challenges.

Included in the original groups selected to receive assistance are the Thrive Community Youth Network in St. John’s, Canadian Mental Health Association’s Living Life to the Fullest program in Ontario, the Salvation Army’s Harbour Light program in Vancouver and the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s HEADSTRONG program in Calgary.

“We are beyond delighted and honoured to be chosen as part of this initiative,” said Angela Crockwell, executive director of Thrive.

“There is a steady increase in the need for the services we offer. There is a waitlist for those services.”

She said the funding that will come from the A Dollar A Day program will help Thrive get services to those in need more quickly.

Crockwell said Thrive services about 1,500 people a year and she has seen the need for supports from her organization growing at an alarming rate.

“There has been a steady rise in people coming in for support — just since the first of January — and we don’t expect that to slow down any time soon. We want to offer them support.”

The statistics around mental health and addictions in Canada are staggering, Furey said. As an example, he cited youth suicide in Canada, which is the third highest in the world.

“Only one in five children who need help in this country receive it,” he said.
“We are all impacted by mental health. We hurt together, so we need to heal together.”

The Gonzaga High School Mental Health Coalition was on hand to join in the announcement and to hear first-hand how they may be able to support the program.

“A Dollar A Day reached out to our teacher/instructor to see how we could raise awareness in our school community to help erase the stigma around mental health issues,” Kate Hickey of the Gonzaga Mental Health Coalition said Tuesday.

“Like they said in the launch, students don’t have a lot of money to give. It may be a simple way for students to get involved, like perhaps a dollar a class or even if a student wants to donate a dollar on their own, they can. It will all make a difference.”
Gonzaga’s coalition has worked diligently this year to get the mental health message out to its students by placing posters with positive messages throughout the school.

Because of that hard work, they were selected to be the first school in the province to obtain a Yellow Bench — yellow for hello — a place where people can have a conversation about the small or big issues that are creating mental strife for them.

They have also been big supporters of Thrive’s programs, raising funds for them when they can through a variety of events and keeping the conversation going on how to obtain help for mental health issues.

“I hope you are all as inspired as we are,” Paddick said.

“Everything you can give can make a difference. This will help support frontline mental health and addictions programs across Canada.”

A short video was shown, with a number of Canadian celebrities throwing their support behind the cause, including singer/songwriter Jann Arden, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies and St. John’s actor Allan Hawco.

In addition to this support, Doyle’s band and opening act the Fortunate Ones will have displays in the lobby at each of their shows during their Canadian tour promoting the A Dollar A Day program.
“Mental health matters to me. We need to make it accessible to a whole group of people who have not had access to help,” Doyle said.

“There is not enough dough going around. It is all about a dollar. That is part of a cup of coffee or change for a parking meter.”

Doyle asked those who attended the launch to answer two questions: do I want to help make a difference with mental health and addictions issues in this country, and do I have a dollar to give today?

For more on this initiative or to register to help, go online to www.adollaraday.ca, or follow the organization on Twitter and Facebook @adollaradayfdn.

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