Sarah’s consumer/survivor roots are in social enterprise. She founded a social enterprise to provide supported employment, and collaborated with the corporate community to explore implementing peer support into workplace employee assistance programs. Sarah trained, volunteered and served on the board of directors at The Mental Health Rights Coalition of Hamilton. She has also worked as a Peer Mentor with the Halton Healthcare Early Intervention in Psychosis program. Sarah comes to OPDI from her Peer Support position at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. There she gained extensive experience promoting and providing peer support to individuals in inpatient, outpatient and forensic mental health programs. Working at a grassroots level, she co-developed The Mental Health Safe Space program which is a peer led collaboration between Mission Services of Hamilton and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. She finds joy in supporting people to find their voice, define their wellness and explore their recovery journeys. Sarah graduated from The Small Business and Entrepreneurship program at Mohawk College and received the Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction Award and a Premiers Award for Recent Graduates for her work in the consumer survivor community. She lives in Hamilton with her partner and her fur family where she finds peace swimming and tries to enjoy jogging by the lake.
Raymond was an Executive Director at a CSI and then took a year off learning at York University before coming to OPDI in 2005. His board experience at the Clarke Institute and CAMH has thankfully not extinguished his inquisitive and curious nature which comes naturally with an English Literature degree. He spends his spare time teaching English to a 3 year old dog and manners to a world-weary teenager, while listening in turn to a very patient spouse. Raymond is a fan of anti-poverty advocate John Stapleton and has taken his Open Policy Course not once but twice (it’s that good).
Allyson began working for OPDI back in 1993 in its earlier incarnation as the former CSDI. Originally tasked as an administrative assistant, she has taken on other responsibilities including office finances, conference organizer and, working with graduates of the OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials Program while they complete their internships. She is certified with Peer Support Canada, and is qualified to deliver OPDI Peer Support Core EssentialsTM Program training. Allyson lives with her husband, two teenaged boys and their dog Scout who they adopted from a rescue organization. In her spare time, Allyson enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new vegan recipes and exploring a healthy lifestyle.
OPDI closed its office on Yonge Street when the lease expired, and since then has held permanent and hot desks at a shared-space building called Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex area at Bathurst near Bloor. Staff work primarily from their homes in North York, Richmond Hill and Hamilton. They commute into the city as needed, using the Centre for staff and other meetings, or as a landing/ working space on days with multiple meetings. This move enabled us to redirect massive rent expenses to member services, vastly reduced our carbon footprint, and keeps staff healthier and happier by eliminating several hours per day for each of them on public transport. Since, “dropping in” is impractical, please make an appointment if you need to meet with staff. Mail or packages should be very clearly marked “Ontario Peer Development Initiative” and drop-offs should be handed directly to one of the Centre staff (reception desk on the ground floor) with a request to put it in OPDI’s mail spot. It is also a good idea to drop us an email to let us know if you have left or sent a package, so that we can be sure to stop in for it.