Member 1 approached the organizing group just after the charter was registered. He had a workshop to share if we needed. At the time, he was in counselling with a health services agency. It was found through conversations as time passed and confidence developed, that he was dealing with several major stress cases, ranging through domestic, financial, health and emotional conflicts. Social and personal isolation was a serious concern he had identified and needed a solution. Over time, he has developed a support connection with several members who have been able to assist, by words and actions. His therapist advised him at one point if there is a conflict between his counselling appointment and the Shed, go to the shed, camaraderie and social connections are more beneficial. He continues with his therapy. On several occasions, he has, in confidence, expressed a wish to end his problems by ending his life. He was helped to deal with this and restore a more positive outlook by reinforcing his value to the other members with his vast skill set. Seven years on and he is able to cope, with a good outlook in spite of deteriorating health .
From a CBC February 2017 interview: “Member 1, who has now been involved with the group for close to two years, said he doesn’t have any family in the area, so joined because he needed “some camaraderie to help my boredom.” “I got fairly depressed at one time so I started going to a therapist … and this whole set-up has really brought me through the depression and everything else.”
One life improved, one life saved
Member 2 found the Okanagan Men’s Shed through a media article and came for a Tuesday coffee. He had recently lost his only son through a tragic accident and he felt a great loss. He knew he could not isolate himself. He quickly developed a rapport with all members, found a new purpose and value by using his skills to help other members and community. His loss is still close to the surface, but he is able to cope with the camaraderie he has found and the value he is able to bring to the Shed and to the community.
One life improved, possibly a life saved.
Member 3 was a client of a mental health service and was introduced to the shed by his counselor. He had progressed through counselling to the point he should move into a more social and active situation, relieving part of the counselor’s case load. This was very effective for over a year as he made connections with most of the membership, a popular and welcome person. He took on several projects, using his diverse skills to help other members and several community serve agencies. Unfortunately, due to issues not know to the writer, he suffered breakdown spent significant time in a residential care facility. We could help for a time, improved his quality of life for a time.
He has recently recovered and is actively picking up and rejoining in shed activities.
One life improved
Member 4 came to the Shed through a mental health agency counsellor as an adjunct to regular therapy. Although he suffers from a mental issue, he is very popular with the members and seems to benefit from participation and camaraderie he finds at the shop. He strives to develop simple skills and shows remarkable persistence. By avoiding social isolation he is able to enjoy the welcome, non judgmental situation he has found for about 6 years.
One life improved.
Member 5 came to the shed with a mental health counsellor as he had suffered minor brain damage. He has significant skills of value to other members and is willing and able to share this. He finds it frustrating to be restricted in the use of power tools but does understand he no longer as the ability to use these safely. He is always accompanied by a support person, usually his wife who keeps him out of difficulty. Member 5 is very popular with all members and benefits from the camaraderie he has found safely.
One life improved
Member 6 is one of many members who has lost a spouse. After over half a century of being part of a couple, the grieving husband was looking for a way to fill his time and heal. “It’s given me a sense of purpose and just a new direction in life,” he said. Member 6 is not the only member forced to overcome heartache.
One life improved
Community organizations, group activities:
A couple of community services have men with diverse abilities ranging from Cerebral Palsy to brain damage, safe but limiting disabilities. The groups may come to the Shed under caretaker supervision as part of their activities program. The purpose is to give these men an opportunity to meet and connect with men in a safe and casual environment. They are assisted by members in simple activities, making projects of their choice within the individual limits. For example, several boys took on a task of assembling precut pieces of wood and, making a small breadboard with a butcher block style. Mainly, there is simple conversation, cookies, and some hands-on time.
The members support this program and provide mentoring and preparation support. The supervision and safety are managed by the caregivers with members keeping a watch to prevent unsafe behaviour. Normally, heavy power tools, machines and sharp tools are kept secure as things happen quickly as some boys have no sense of caution or respect for risky situations.
This program was sustainable in the previous shop location, but may not be viable in the new shop due to lack of facilities.
Lives are improved through the alternative special interest activities Men’s Sheds provides.