Deborah Helfand has gained confidence and new employment skills since joining DANI
Deborah obtained degrees from York University and Seneca College but still struggled to find her place in the world. Deborah has mental illness, and the social stigma created a seemingly insurmountable barrier. However, at DANI, she found a warm and inviting home, where she was encouraged to be herself.
Deborah joined our supported employment program in 2014. With the help of our staff, Deborah was able to build the skills and gain the confidence that allowed her to succeed. If you enter our primary location, you might see Deborah preparing food in the kitchen, waitressing in the café or engaging with customers. She has worked in our greenhouse and is an integral part of DANI’s POP UP lunch program, where DANI participants set up a table at local offices and sell lunch items. Beyond that, she fundraises for our Charidy Day event and assists on anything else that we need. It would be hard to find a job offered at DANI at which Deborah hasn’t excelled.
We asked Deborah about the effect that joining DANI has had on her life. Here’s what she had to say:
“DANI gave me a life, a sense of worthiness and value. I have a serious mental health
illness and these illnesses have caused me to be ostracized from society. At DANI, I feel like me, and I’m treated as a worthy individual with respect, dignity, as well as being given the opportunity to voice my opinions and concerns. I’m given responsibilities and allowed to make mistakes with no repercussions. At DANI, my hidden disability isn’t an issue. DANI empowers me and I’m forever grateful to the entire staff and organization.”
When the pandemic hit, we needed competent staff to continuously sanitize one of our campuses in order to prevent COVID outbreaks. Deborah took on that challenge too, and now plays an instrumental role in maintaining our meticulous standards.
Deborah has taken incredible strides since joining us. We continue to rejoice in her successes as we watch her continued growth at DANI.