Stella’s Circle Storm Troopers, A Community Blizzard Response

Dedication. Creativity. Community. Resiliency.  Relationships. Snowshoes. These are the words that have been swirling in my head like the 77 centimetres of snowflakes that fell on the City of St. John’s. Our community has come together for quite the blizzard response.

The response by our Stella’s Circle staff during the blizzard and post-blizzard has been incredible.  Some of our programs continue 24/7 regardless of weather. We’ve had staff who have snowshoed into work at Naomi Centre, our shelter for young women 16-30.  Staff who, before the height of the storm, stayed with relatives so they could be close by and walk to   Emmanuel House, our residential counselling program. There’s staff from our Community Support Program, which provides intensive services to people with complex mental health issues, gear up in their snowshoes to reach participants in their homes and provide a much needed service. Some staff stayed at our facilities for 36 hours. And there’s staff who have administrative jobs but  grabbed their shovels to help our caretakers clear facility exits. Behind the front line staff are other staff and managers supporting them in every way.

All in all, an amazing show of courage, innovation and connectedness, just three of the values that live at Stella’s Circle. As a City, we owe our staff, and the staff of community agencies, a big thank you as they continue to work with some of our most vulnerable residents. People who have mental illnesses, addictions, poverty, homelessness and other barriers, often live invisible and marginalized lives. When an event like this blizzard occurs, they can disappear completely from the radar of most people. The volume of calls that we have had coming into Emmanuel House and Naomi Centre has been overwhelming and an indication of the connection that people need to have and the importance of our strong relationships with our participants. We worry about those who don’t have such connections or are not able to connect.  We know that for as many people as we support, that are many more who need assistance.

We send a big thank you to all City of St. John’s workers, provincial government employees, first responders and our collaborative community agency friends (special shout out to Impact Construction with Choices for Youth!) for their tireless efforts in the blizzard response.

Lisa Browne, CEO, Stella’s Circle