Last summer, an email went out to students who had expressed an interest in being part of a new GreenHouse initiative—the Workplace Innovation Teams—inviting the students to discover and test innovations for challenges expressed by nonprofits in the mental health and youth development sectors.
Third year Health studies student Lucas Moffitt expressed an interest in the challenge of care for people with mental health and addictions. He was quickly introduced to several other students who also wanted to explore this challenge. With guidance from Brendan Wylie-Toal, GreenHouse’s Program Manager and Startup Coach, the team began trying to understand the problem and then to consider how they might address it.
The group, while changing over time, began operating as Live Better Together, a program offered to residents of homeless shelters to encourage the development of emotional, life and employment skills through the rehabilitation of technology, such as old computers. Live Better Together has begun piloting the program with St. John’s Kitchen, and is exploring funding for the program.
“To be honest, I’m not sure where this will go,” Lucas says. “We’ve had really good feedback about the program we’ve developed, but lack of funding for shelters is always a problem.”
At the same time, regardless of how this project unfolds, Lucas will not be particularly discouraged. “I’ve learned so much and done a lot of things I’ve never done before. I had never met with healthcare organizations or tried to sell a program. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and learned a lot that has much better prepared me for my future.”
He adds, “It’s been really valuable to have mentors like Brendan and Tania who helped us build a network through personal introductions to high level people who likely wouldn’t have responded to us if we had just emailed them on our own.”