Creating a place to call home

Health | April 8, 2015
Two young boys playing

Helping an organization with a 125 year history make a huge difference.

In Atlantic Canada, we saw the opportunity to make an impact with our Community Investment presence at a grassroots level.

Chisholm Services for Children is a community service that dates back to 1890. Their story, like ours, is one of constantly evolving to meet the needs of their community. “The founders of our programs came to Halifax looking to support marginalized women and children in the community,” said Wade Johnston, Executive Director, Chisholm Services for Children

Understanding the importance of community-based services, Chisholm began implementing residential programs, including residences for children in-need. Since then, the organization has served 600 children and adolescents that have been provided with long-term residential care 24 hours a day. “Basically we’ve given them a place to call home,” said Johnston.

“What we do is we try to take them off that path and try to get them to cut out a new trail in the snow, which we all know isn’t easy.”

Wade Johnston

Executive Director, Chisholm Services for Children

In 2011, Chisholm’s services began to address a new need in its community – finding placements for children 12 years and younger who could not live at home due to conflict issues within the family. More often than not, these are children in need of protection who have fled homes of abuse and neglect. Today, the organization works with eight children in serious need.

Chisholm services for children logo

Eight may not seem like a lot, but imagine one particular girl’s story. She was seven or eight, and her foster family was exhausted by her challenging behavior. As she grew up, she rarely attended school and was described as reclusive, aggressive and anxious. Within 18 months of entering Chisholm’s program, her true colours began to shine. In this short time, she was able to begin working through her issues around safe relationships with adults and peers. By the time she left Chisholm’s care, she was attending school on a full-time basis. When you consider this program is 24 hours a day, you start to see how transformative it can be in a short period of time. And that was just the start of the story.

“That foster family who had basically said she can’t live with us anymore came to Chisholm and, with our clinicians and team, learned about childhood trauma and ways to help support their foster daughter,” said Johnston. “They realized they were managing her behavior in a very different way and needed to approach it from a new perspective. They were able to have her return to their home and have now officially taken her back with the view to adopt her.”

Stories like this are the reason we are happy to have been supporting and working with Chisholm Youth since 2010. Part of the funding we’ve offered has also been used to help the organization’s literacy program called LINKS, which is helping 200 children in the community, aged six to 12, who are reading below grade level or who have been diagnosed with a learning disability.