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Crystal McTague heaps glowing praise on Open Door Outreach for providing a life line from addiction and crime.
The 33-year-old Charlottetown native first came in contact with the organization in 2018 while serving time in jail for committing theft and fraud to feed an opiate addiction that dated back to the end of 2016.
She took part in all of Open Door Outreach’s programs in jail, including weekly chapel that helped her gain spirituality which has grown to be a “huge part" of her life.
She also spent time learning to deal with anger while developing life skills.
McTague was clean for a stretch after her first stint in jail. However, she did not keep up with the valuable Open Door Outreach programming.
She ended up back in jail in 2020 after being convicted of break and enter, and theft.
She leaned more heavily on Open Door Outreach – and its executive director Cheryl Millman – this time around.
Open Door Outreach
- What: A registered charity and humanitarian organization located in downtown Charlottetown. It helps P.E.I. women who are incarcerated and addicted experience freedom and real change.
- Services: It is responsible for female chaplaincy in the Provincial Correctional Centre and also offers personal mentoring, group programs and assistance with transitions into the community after release from jail.
- Did you know? The organization is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
- Online – opendoorpei.ca
Millman directed McTague to Lennon House – a temporary home in a caring, healing community for persons recovering from addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders. McTague has been there since she left jail at the end of June.
Open Door Outreach works with McTague and others at Lennon House.
“You can tell that they genuinely care about your well-being and they want you to do well … They’ve helped me a lot," says McTague. “Cheryl has helped me tremendously, both in (jail) and when I am out."
She plans to stay involved with Open Door Outreach as long as she needs their support.
"They don’t judge. I feel safe talking to them. They provide a lot of safety," she says. “I like making Cheryl proud of me," she adds.
“She is a big part of my sobriety."
Millman says the mission of Open Door Outreach is to empower marginalized women in P.E.I. to reach their full potential.
“Going where there is a need and creating individualized programing to meet the needs of women who are incarcerated and addicted has always been the core work of Open Door Outreach," she says.
Open Door has been working for 15 years to help rebuild the lives of women broken by incarceration and addiction in P.E.I.
Their programs and services for women at the Provincial Correctional Centre (PCC), in various Island recovery homes and in the community include personal mentoring, group programs, assistance with transitions into the community as well as chaplaincy programs and services.
“Open Door Outreach is a vital part of the community partnerships we have at the PCC and they make a huge difference in the lives of our women,’’ says acting manager Brooke Mitchell.
“I don’t know what we would do without them and I want to take this opportunity to thank them on behalf of our staff and the women who are at our facility."
Open Door is marking its 15th anniversary with a fundraising campaign to raise $15,000 to enable it to continue providing support and programs.
Like many charities, Open Door has been forced to cancel some regular community fundraisers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than $3,000 had been raised as of Sunday afternoon. Donations can be made to Open Door online or by calling their office at 902-628-6826.