Robbie Dean Centre receives support from iHeart Community Fund
On April 11, the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre received $5,000 from the iHeart Community Fund. Pictured here (from left) are Shane Dennison and Frances MacLaren of McDougall Insurance, Robbie Dean director Monique Yashinskie, Diana Moore of iHeart, Robbie Dean board member Melissa Siegel and McDougall regional manager Kirk Shier.
Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre received a helping hand, from the heart.
Since founding the iHeart Community Fund two years ago, Heartland Farm Mutual annually invites their staff and brokers from across Ontario to apply for funding on community projects close to their hearts.
In 2017, some of the province’s successful applications provided support towards a women’s centre, a donkey sanctuary, rehabilitation of a lighthouse, and water refill stations in schools, among other projects.
This year, brokers at Pembroke’s McDougall Insurance and Financial (177 Pembroke St. E) applied for funding on behalf of the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre.
“We get this opportunity from Heartland Insurance each year and this year I thought 'Robbie Dean' would be great for it. Mental illness is prevalent in the area and not a lot of people know who to turn to or what to do – why wouldn’t we want to support them?,” said Frances MacLaren of McDougall Insurance. “So I put the application together with Monique Yashinskie’s help to go into iHeart to help get the funding for them.”
Of the 80 applications, the Robbie Dean Centre was among the 32 that were chosen and a special cheque presentation took place on April 11 at McDougall Insurance and Financial.
Accepting the $5,000 on behalf of the Robbie Dean Centre, director Monique Yashinskie expressed her immense gratitude as she shared the founding story behind the centre and stressed that every penny helps.
“The year before Robbie passed, we struggled so hard to get help. He was in that weird age group just before adulthood where he was too old to be on the waiting list for the youth services and too young for the adult services – so whatever crack the mental health system had in 2011 our family just fell right to the bottom,” said Yashinskie. “Afterwards, I decided that there was no way I’d be able to cure mental health in this area or stop young people from committing suicide, but I sure the hell could make it that families wouldn’t have to drive to Ottawa to get help. The centre was founded in 2013 and our main programs are mental health walk-in clinics because when we were struggling that's what would help. We get no government money but we exist because of donations and support like this, this is the only way we're able to open our doors.”
Emotionally connecting with Yashinskie’s story, iHeart Community Fund’s Laura Kelly shared her own story of how the mental health system failed her family and that it’s more important than ever to have places like the Robbie Dean Centre.
“I lost my nephew to suicide, it’ll be two years in August. He struggled with mental health and there was no one in the system that would help him, there was always a reason why he didn’t qualify and his own family doctor refused to give him the medication that he needed,” said Kelly. “Now more than ever, mental illness is rapidly growing and there’s not enough places to support our young adults and our adults. We need more places like the Robbie Dean Centre.”
According to Yashinskie, the $5,000 will be going towards their recent work with the Farmer’s Union of Renfrew County, to offer mental health support to farmers in the region.
“We’ve started to work with the Farmer’s Union of Renfrew County and we already did a workshop in depression and farming. We're now looking at how we can best support the farming community because depression right now in farming is pretty high, so it's just a fluke that this donation is coming through at the same time as we’re building this relationship with the farmer's union,” said Yashinskie.