Running since 1976, The Kettle Society is a local non-for-profit that supports people with mental illness to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. They do this by providing housing, employment, advocacy and support services; raising awareness of mental health issues and breaking down the stigma and barriers for people with mental illness, and promoting inclusion of people living with mental illness in all aspects of society. The Kettle originally began operation from their flagship location on Venables, and have since expanded to a second building on East Hastings. We recently spoke with Ken, who is currently in his twenty-sixth year with the organization, who explained the group required more space for its human resources team and housing staff. “The housing, medical clinic, the advocacy, the outreach all came out of the drop-in, and the Drop in started at Commercial Drive,” Ken explains. “We also have housing buildings at Burrard, Tailor Manor, Triumph, East 8th and we have Camille house for women and Peggy’s Place – a transition, emergency house.” “In the drop run we run about 18 programs a week, both internal and external,” says Chris, another employee who has been working with The Kettle for the last thirteen years. “Today we have a fantastic Friday which is a bus trip. But on Tuesday we have a craft day, and we have a bowling program. These are programs that originated from the membership. But we also recently brought back our baking group, where people can learn some skills in the kitchen and also take some goodies home too.” With such long-standing, devoted employees — it’s pretty clear to see the passion and dedication for what Ken and Chris do each day. “We just came back from a camping trip along the Indian arm — it’s very eye opening,” says Ken. “We pick clients who haven’t had a break from the city, and we take a boat up along the arm and we go and camp. Just to see the change in people when they are out there.” “Another big event we (participate in) is the Eastside Cultural Crawl, that is quite big,” Ken continues. “All the art in this building is from the East Side Crawl. The money for the art goes directly to the artist as well. We also have picnic down at Trout Lake every year. “ “Every January we have a dinner, Santa Claus and a live band,” Chris adds. “We’ve done it for a few years, but in December every person that is homeless or in need of help there is tons to go too. Come January, everyone is broke, and there isn’t much going on. So we felt we could do a Christmas in January, where people can bring their kids and receive gifts. It’s such a life changing thing for people. It affects everyone, including the staff.” With a number of valuable community and housing programs available, organizations like The Kettle are truly making a difference for thousands of people in need. “Clients come in to the drop in and say the Kettle feels like home,” Chris says proudly. “It is home for them. They can feel safe here, and come and not feel judged.” Visit The Kettle Society’s website for more information, and don’t forget to stay social on Twitter and Facebook.