The Doorbell Rings . . . A Day at Sophia

8:30am The staff arrive and unlock the door at 83 Hazen St. We turn on the lights and brew the coffee. We review our plan for programs and appointments throughout the day, but know that our schedule doesn’t accurately predict how often our doorbell will ring today.

9:00am The first woman to arrive is in tears. It’s Monday and the weekend has been difficult for her. Nicole helps her pour a hot drink in the kitchen while they talk about how she is feeling.

9:30am Together, Nicole and the woman head down to the living room for morning meditation. Several others have gathered with Shauna, the facilitator. Chatter gradually subsides as Shauna starts the music that accompanies the stretches and breathwork. A short while later, we hear the first woman cheerfully wishing the others a good day as she heads out at the end of the session. Compassion from staff, an effective program and a positive connection with other women has restored her spirit.

10:00am Shauna launches into a series of coaching sessions with three women who arrive over the next few hours. Each has identified a specific health goal and Shauna provides individualized support. Meanwhile, clinical therapist Nicole Mallay has arrived and sets up in the small office for a virtual counselling session with a woman who can’t leave her home due to her health.

Noon The doorbell rings. Nicole recognizes the drop-in visitor from a previous outreach meeting at Ridgewood and brings her down to the kitchen for a coffee. As she shares her story, Nicole gently walks the woman through our intake interview questions. At the same time, in Charlotte County, Sheila is coaching a woman who is mid-way through her discovery of the 12 steps.

1:00pm In the living room, Nicole M introduces four women to mindfulness techniques during the first session of a 6-week DBT therapy group. As the meeting finishes up, we welcome another woman at the door. Donna chats with her while she waits for her counselling appointment to start.

2:00pm A young woman arrives for a scheduled intake interview. Shy and withdrawn, she tells Nicole that her aunt made the appointment for her at Sophia. She was very nervous about ringing the doorbell, but she desperately wants to stay sober. They chat about which programs on the calendar will offer her the support she is looking for. She makes an appointment to meet with Mary for 12 step coaching the next day.

3:00pm The rain is pouring down outside the house and the Centre is quiet for a while. We take advantage of the time to catch up on phone messages and emails. Three women have called the Centre to ask about our programs. Several others have contacted us via the website and our social media pages.

3:30pm Nicole heads out for her weekly visit to the Detox Unit at Ridgewood. She takes copies of our flyer and the program calendar to distribute to the women there.

4:30pm It’s time to stack the dishwasher and tidy up the house. Today, the Sophia team has interacted with more than 18 women. We have a good feeling as we leave the house, knowing that each woman who rang the doorbell discovered empowerment, community and ongoing support. Tomorrow, we will be ready to open the door again, and on all the tomorrows to come.

(To protect confidentiality, minor details about the women who visited Sophia on this day have been changed.)

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