Central to our success is our continuing partnership with various faith communities, which put into practice their ethic of welcoming the stranger. L’Abri en Ville has links to Unitarian, United, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and Jewish communities. They provide us with apartment volunteers, board members, apartment furnishings, the use of meeting spaces and often financial support. Many help us educate, by inviting residents and volunteers to address their congregations about mental illness. While by no means all our volunteers come from faith communities, these partnerships, based on a deep compatibility between the values of L’Abri and the social justice concerns of faith communities, have enriched us all.
Colleges and universities have also opened up opportunities to chip away at the stigma of mental illness. Teachers have invited residents and volunteers to speak to students about the experience of living with mental illness and the restorative power of community. The students respond appreciatively to hearing the residents’ stories, saying things like: “Each of you said something that made me think, challenged my own perceptions of mental illness, and made me laugh” and, “I learned more about mental illness in this class than in three years at university.”
Support also comes from community organizations. Service clubs and businesses donate goods and services such as storage, delivery and printing. For a non-profit organization, such generosity is of crucial importance.
Finally, support is a constant in the strong working relationships between L’Abri en Ville’s coordinators and various medical professionals in Montreal’s hospitals and CLSCs. Psychiatrists and social workers support current residents, and also provide us with referrals to individuals who may benefit from joining the L’Abri community.