Suzanne’s story: mental health, every action counts

Vancouver, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2018 Community Fund recipient, Hope in Shadows / Megaphone, shares magazine vendor Suzanne’s touching story of how small actions inspired positive change in her life.

When Suzanne Kilroy first walked into Megaphone’s office 10 years ago, she knew she was ready for change. She wanted to earn an income, overcome health challenges and find a safe space to work. What she didn’t know was that she would become a catalyst for change in her community.

In 2018, Hope in Shadows and Megaphone were supported by the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund grant to offer meaningful work and a platform for self-expression to people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Vancouver and Victoria. Every year, Hope in Shadows and Megaphone puts over $100,000 in their vendors’ pockets while providing a network of support that improves their mental health and sense of belonging.

Suzanne is one of the 180 magazine vendors who have been positively impacted by this program. Selling Megaphone helps Suzanne pay her rent, buy healthy groceries for her family and meet friendly faces in her city.

“Working with Megaphone changed my life – it gave me back my self-esteem and my will to live,” Suzanne says. “I think back to where I was and I wouldn’t change anything. I get to look around and smile.”

In addition to earning an income through selling magazines and calendars, vendors have the opportunity to learn new skills, while also supporting others. Funding from Bell Let’s Talk allowed Megaphone to hire coordinators who organized 7 skills-building workshops and peer mentorship sessions to help vendors achieve their personal and professional goals. For Suzanne, her journey with Megaphone has helped her become a vital pillar of support within her community.

In addition to selling magazines, Suzanne teaches hair and skin hygiene at a mental health facility and works as a peer support worker and Indigenous knowledge keeper at the WISH Drop-In Society. In 2019, she was named Megaphone’s Vendor of the Year for her dedication to the program and her contributions to the community.

As the program grows, Hope in Shadows and Megaphone keep finding innovative ways to empower their vendors to make change in their communities, including through a peer-elected advisory board. Vendors like Suzanne also have the chance to publish in Megaphone magazine and the online blog. As Suzanne puts it, “It changes lives. It saves our lives. It lets our voices be known.”

Since 2011, the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund has provided $11 million to 657 organizations from around Canada, enabling them to improve access to mental health care, supports and services for people living with mental health issues. Applications for the 2020 Community Fund are currently being accepted until March 16. Learn more here.

To read more about Hope in Shadows and Megaphone, visit www.megaphonemagazine.com.