The Transformational Power of Being Heard

Contributed by Samantha Peck.  “A welcome reprieve from the harsh realities of life.” “A transformative experience.” “Life changing.” These are a few of the things I was told by the family caregivers who participated in expressive writing workshop sessions run by the Toronto Writers Collective.

In March 2020, long-term care was rocked by the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with family caregivers traumatized by the impact of COVID in long-term care homes.
As the Executive Director of Family Councils Ontario, I knew that we needed to do something new to help caregivers through the crisis, but I was at a loss for what exactly that was. Then, the Toronto Writers Collective reached out to chat with me about their work. And I thought, let’s try it! And I am so, so glad that we did.

The expressive writing program is backed by evidence, so I didn’t doubt that it would have an impact on the caregivers I work with. Participating in the workshops has changed their lives and improved their ability to be effective caregivers as well as care for themselves. What seemed like an interesting opportunity to try something new has blossomed into new friendships, a renewed sense of confidence, and improved well-being. All because a group of strangers took a leap of faith and were brought together for a couple of hours per week to write.

Many of those workshop participants have chosen to take the next step to become Toronto Writers Collective facilitators and bring the life changing experience to other caregivers. If you want to join these incredible caregivers as expressive writing workshop facilitators, and live in Downtown Toronto, FCO and TWC are hosting a facilitator training June 4-6. The training is co-funded by the Rotary Club of Toronto, FCO and the TWC. To learn more and to apply, visit: www.torontowriterscollective.ca.

Samantha (Sam) and is passionate about helping people and groups achieve their goals. In her 13 years with Family Councils Ontario (formerly Family Councils’ Program) she has supported thousands of family members and long-term care home staff improve their work to achieve the best possible outcomes and meaningful impacts. In her role as Executive Director, she focuses on building and maintaining relationships with funders, stakeholders, and interconnected organizations to carry out activities that support FCO’s mission & developing strategies that enable the organization to create positive change within the long-term care sector.

Samantha holds an Honours B.A. from York University. A dedicated lifelong learner, she also holds Advanced Client-Directed Case Management and Volunteer Management post-graduate certificates from Humber College, Project Management Certificate from the University of Toronto, a Masters Certificate in Adult Training and Development from the Schulich Executive Education Centre, and is currently working on a Voluntary Sector Management Certificate from Ryerson University.

In her spare time, Samantha is an avid athlete, reader, volunteer, and sci-fi fan. Fun fact: she has 3 cats!

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