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Groups Provide Valuable Support to Abrigo Clients

Behind the Scenes

 by Gerry Luciano, Manager, Fundraising and Communications | February 4, 2022

Quietly percolating behind the scenes at Abrigo is a series of organized groups, free for all participants, that provide education, comfort and a sense of community for hundreds of clients every year.

In pre-pandemic times, all group meetings took place at our Dufferin Street office in the heart of Corso Italia in Toronto. Today, our groups are online in the virtual world to keep everyone safe from the Omicron variant.

Among the programming offered, let’s look at a few groups that are front and centre this winter:

Women’s Group

First up is Abrigo’s Women’s Group. This long-running group is restricted to current or recent Abrigo clients. The goal of the group is to create a sense of awareness surrounding emotional intelligence with proven techniques to help clients feel happier, overcome fears and think in a more positive way. Some of the topics discussed include stress, anxiety, depression, the impact of COVID-19 and other issues of the day.

The women come together for eight weeks to support one another, release individual struggles through open communication and hear how others use strategies to overcome similar experiences and difficulties. This is a beneficial way to receive help and improve lives, all while feeling like they are part of a community.

Start date for the next virtual group is February 25, 2022.

The current leader of the group is Abrigo Centre Violence Against Women counsellor Marta Santos. “A women’s group facilitator provides a safe, tailored space to guide women through an encouraged participatory learning and action cycle,” says Ms. Santos.

“It is amazing to see women in our community come together to share their knowledge, strategies and experiences. I am privileged to witness what the power of community can make in an individual’s life. By surrounding yourself with others working toward a similar goal or objective, you get motivation, support, and friendly competition to push participants a bit further than on their own. This group inspires me.”


Caregivers for People Living with Dementia

A new group starting at Abrigo is Caregivers for People Living with Dementia. This eight-week program is designed to assist and support the adult children, family members, friends or people who are taking care of an individual in their life living with dementia. An important goal of the group is simply to let people know that they are not alone.

The group will allow people to network, learn and grow from the experiences of others. Start date for the group is February 21, 2022 and four individuals are currently registered. At publication time, it was still to be determined if this will be a virtual or in-person group. If you could benefit from this group, please let us know.

Father’s Group

Another long-running group in the spotlight is our Father’s Group. In partnership with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, this eight-week evening program, again happening virtually, provides support for dads who have had conflict in their home.

Participants learn how to build supportive, caring relationships with their children after conflict with a family member. They learn how to manage challenging times with their children and that understanding a child’s age, personality and lived experiences impact the relationship they share together.

The next Father’s Group will start in March.

Success by Six, Kids Have Stress Too and Raising Sexually Health Children

Our final series of groups are designed specifically for moms. The trio programming of Success by Six, Kids Have Stress Too and Raising Sexually Health Children is led by counsellor Valeria Sales, an Abrigo counsellor who has taught the courses for more than a decade.

All of the groups focus on improving a mother’s skill in raising their children. Whether is it recognizing speech and language development, identifying stress in your kids lives, or becoming comfortable dealing with your children’s sexual behavior, each session provides down to earth practical guidance that people can use right away.

The next Success by Six group starts on March 11, 2022 and runs for 10 weeks.

Knowing that you are not alone and hearing that you share the same experiences as others often comes as great relief to many people. Participation in all Abrigo groups is free. If you are interested in taking part in any of the groups mentioned, call the Abrigo Centre at 416-534-3434 during normal business hours. We look forward to hearing for you.


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The next issue will be released in March.



Gerald Luciano

Luciano has been the Abrigo Centre’s Manager of Fundraising and Communications for the last six years. He has an extensive background in both disciplines in the healthcare and social service sectors.

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