The development of The Willow Community Support Services began with consumers of mental health services socializing and discussing a need for something “more”. Having gone through formal group therapy programs that inevitably end, we identified there was a need for an ongoing support system where individuals dealing with mental illness can participate in their own recovery process by working, learning, and socializing together in a safe and welcoming, non clinical environment.

Milestone Moments at a Glance

October 2015

  • Consumers of mental health services began meeting weekly in coffee shops with the sole purpose of developing an organization
  • Named ourselves The Willow Community

November 2015

  • Researched existing and complementary agencies
  • Created a presence on Facebook

December 2015

  • Developed our mission, values, and vision and printed the first edition of our brochure
  • Start-up Committee formed and began meeting weekly in the CMHA Niagara boardroom
  • Planned and hosted our first event
  • Began advertising at local community mental health agencies

January 2016

  • Hosted our first arts based workshop
  • Began attending seminars at the Enterprise Centre to develop a business plan and strategic aims

February 2016

  • Members of The Willow Community participated in an art exhibition at the Niagara Artist Centre
  • Attracted a board of directors

March 2016

  • 1st Board of Directors meeting

April 2016

  • Began family friendly evening events at Start Me Up Niagara
  • Appeared on Cogeco Cable 10 to advertise our organization
  • Began delivering community outreach seminars at various community social service agencies
  • Developed our tag line: Belong Empower Create

May 2016

  • Four members participated at a juried art exhibition at St. Catharines City Hall

June 2016

  • Designed and issued the first edition of our monthly newsletter BrainStorm
  • Created a company logo

July 2016

  • Incorporated as a non-profit in Ontario
  • Changed our name to The Willow Community Support Services
  • Submitted a collaborative proposal for a Workman Arts Pilot Site

August 2016

  • Registered a business phone

September 2016

  • Launched our website
  • Weekly Start-up Committee became monthly Steering Committee open to all members
  • Began hosting art workshops at Rodman Hall Art Centre
  • Shortlisted for the pilot site for Workman Arts
  • Hosted a Grape and Wine BBQ fundraiser

October 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

  • Moved into our office at Rodman Hall Art Centre

May 2017

  • Hosted our first annual 80’s Dance Party Fundraiser featuring The Throwbacks.  100% of the proceeds went directly into funding programming

June-Aug 2017

  • Provided a minimum of four free art workshops a month. Started offering our instructors an honourarium
  • Hosted our first Member Art Showcase at Mahtay Cafe
  • Amended our Articles of Incorporation to better reflect the direction of our services.

Sept 2017

Oct 2017

  • Held our first Annual General Meeting

Nov 2017

  • Hosted a Paint Nite Fundraiser in support of our member artists

Dec 2017

  • Developed and began Songs from the Willow- a six month music making series with Joe Lapinski. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council.
  • Hosted second Member Art Showcase at Mahtay Cafe

Jan 2018

  • Mayor Walter Sendzik visited The Willow Community

Feb 2018

  • Hosted our third Member Art Showcase at Mahtay Cafe

March 2018

April 2018

May 2018

  • Hosted our second annual 80’s Dance Party Fundraiser in support out our member artists
  • Shauna MacLeod was invited to speak at the Youth Forum Committee about arts and community recovery
  • Spring Member Art Showcase held at Rodman Hall Art Centre/Brock University in the Studio Gallery
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