The Work Initiative Network Focus on Mental Health

Serving over 37 thousand people across East Toronto, Woodgreen Community Services has a variety of programs, such as child care assistance, immigration services, and employment resources. The programs fall into a few different sections: Children and Youth, Health and Wellness, Homeward Bound, Seniors, Employment, Housing, and Immigrant Settlement.

The Work Initiative Network (WIN) falls into the Health and Wellness section. This program helps people who have dealt with long-term mental health challenges return to the workforce by focusing on employment training. It works on a referral basis, as it is a partnership program with the Michael Garron Hospital, CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), Alternatives, Woodgreen, and Reconnect. WIN works closely with their partners as this is an additional resource and does not replace the mental health worker that the participant previously interacted with. The program works to develop skills for rejoining the workforce, such as disclosure/nondisclosure, stress management, medication, as well as the standard job preparation skills; however, it is not a job placement program. WIN runs for 24 weeks (6 months) with two programs running per year, usually around February and August. The first 12 weeks have weekly facilitator-led group sessions that teach interview and job skills like resumes, cover letters, and networking. The next 12 weeks have peer-led workshops, which focus on the job search phase. Throughout the 24 weeks, each participant has weekly one-on-one meetings for individualized support. The group sessions take place at the Woodgreen Employment Resource Centre at 1080 Queen Street East, which makes it easy for participants to access all the resources available at the centre.

It’s important to remember that WIN is not an open to self-referrals, you must be referred to the program by one of the partners mentioned above. If you’re interested but do not have a mental health worker, you can go to Woodgreen to ask for a referral to the program.

Though I focused on WIN, it is just a very small part of the services that Woodgreen offers. Each of the sections of Woodgreen Community Services has a large number of programs that provide community support. Woodgreen, as a whole, has a number of in-house resources to help people reach their goals.

Woodgreen takes a number of volunteers as they have many locations and services around East Toronto. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can call Woodgreen or check their website for volunteer information. There are many ways to help out so you can pick whatever will work best with your schedule. Currently, Woodgreen is looking for support within their tax clinic,  volunteer drivers and runners for their Meals on Wheels program, volunteers for their Friendly Visiting program (weekly visiting with isolated seniors), and more.

Want to help but can’t make the time commitment that volunteering requires? Head to their website to make a donation. If there’s a particular service you’d like to support, you can choose a designation for your donation so you know exactly where you’re helping out.

Special thanks to Pauline Hockenstein for taking the time to talk to us about the Work Initiative Network and Woodgreen Community Services.

Photography by Bench Accounting via

Monika is the Marketing Director/Social Media for On the Danforth, summer issue. When she isn’t buried in a book, she spends most her time checking out various events in Toronto and turning her life into article pitches. You can check out her twitter here

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