Finding Natalie: A Client Story


Almost four years ago Natalie began her journey to wellness. She had been on her own since she was 15 years old and it had proven to be challenging; she found herself struggling with an addiction which she needed help treating and overcoming.

Natalie was put into contact with Sarai, a Streetscape staff member with Community Mental Health Programs (CMHP) through the addiction treatment centre she applied to attend. Sarai was brought in to help Natalie with the in-depth application and intake process for the treatment centre.

Natalie was admitted and then completed her three-week rehab program. She didn’t feel the need to be in contact with Sarai at that time, feeling confident that she had everything under control – until a year later. Natalie reached out to Sarai to reconnect and she was immediately put back onto Sarai’s case load; there were no wait times or administrative concerns. There is no set end date for working with clients for Streetscape staff – they are available if one of their past clients is in need.

“I think in this world we feel alone and don’t have many opportunities to connect,” muses Natalie, “Pretty much anyone who you have a positive interaction with – a neighbour, sister, counsellor, friend, a person who cares and can help – I have found in Sarai.”

The reason Natalie reached out to Sarai was because she realized she wasn’t managing well on her own with post-addiction treatment. “I felt like when anything happened – whether it was related to court or remembering and getting to appointments – it felt like the end of the world. I would panic and almost have a breakdown,” she explains.

But now, after having Sarai as a confidant, as someone who helped her focus her energy on positive things like going back to school for something she enjoys, Natalie feels like she has grown. Natalie credits Sarai with encouraging healthy, positive choices that reflected her own desire to heal others; “I began to have higher aspirations for myself seeing Sarai doing something she loves while also helping people,” says Natalie, “Seeing her as a positive example, I started to be able to see other possibilities for myself.”

Now, Natalie doesn’t feel as much need to rely on Sarai for support. They touch base and de-brief on choices Natalie is making and Sarai listens and steers the focus to how to work through road-blocks; their conversations are not so much about working through a break down anymore.

“I’m someone who’s always done everything myself; I’ve been on my own since I was 15 years old. Often I feel like I owe people something when I ask for help, or like I’m waiting for someone to ask me to do something for them because they helped me and I don’t like that feeling. But with Sarai I don’t have to worry. She’s paid for her time, so I don’t feel bad asking for her help when I need it. I can just focus on what I need for once and staying healthy,” Natalie explains.

Streetscape is all about helping people without enabling them; assisting people with what they need when they need it and following them on a path they choose for themselves. Natalie had the strength and desire to follow her own path the entire time. As Natalie notes, “I was given the opportunity to grow without feeling like a drain on society. Now everything is much more manageable and I know if I need help, I am able to ask for it.”


Written by Rachel Ganzewinkel, Communications & PR Coordinator

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