The Class Clown of the HOMES program ensures that life has fun and laughter

05/05/20

The Class Clown of the HOMES program ensures that life has fun and laughter

“It’s the social aspect”
The Class Clown of the HOMES program ensures that life has fun and laughter

 

We all share a lot of anxiety while living through the pandemic so it seems apropos to add some silliness into our lives.

Tina Mulholland, is a program developer and mental health worker for Good Shepherd’s HOMES supportive housing program at Verrall Place on Ferguson Avenue North. She’s worked for Good Shepherd for nine years and takes pride in her billing as “Class Clown”, going out of her way to ensure that life remains full of fun and laughter for the building’s tenants despite the global health crisis.

“I try to inject a lot of humour into our programs, but it’s been harder lately,” she admits.

Tina’s creativity is boundless and she has no problems putting herself in ridiculous situations to promote the well-being of the tenants. Before the pandemic, she would don a huge shark head to celebrate Shark Week, and dress up like a giant bunny and hop from door to door to hand out chocolates at Easter. She also celebrates random “international days” to make the tenants smile.

“Today was Save a Frog Day,” she jokes. “International Chicken Day is a big one; I ordered a special hat for it!”

Soon she’ll be hosting a Social Distancing Bingo event where the tenants will play from their balconies while Tina calls the numbers through a sound system.

One of Tina’s’ favourite activities is a weekly Sunday brunch. Tenants help set up, cook and clean up.

“It’s not all about eating brunch,” she says. “It’s the social aspect. The tenants act as a support group for each other.”

Tina also schedules post-brunch outings. Often she’ll escort a group on a walk to Chocolat or Mulberry Coffee House on James Street North, or visit to the Hamilton Farmers Market. Now, they adhere to physical distancing guidelines by restricting the trips to two or three tenants at a time.

Her art therapy program doubles as a support group for tenants.

“It’s all really about us coming together, it’s a social thing.”

After all, the HOMES program is about enhancing the quality of life for supportive housing tenants by helping to eliminate the stigma of living with mental health issues. As a community mental health worker, she still meets one on one with tenants from a minimum two-metre distance while wearing face masks.