Strengthening Families Together (SFT) is such an incredible course for SO many reasons. And you never know whose lives you will impact.

Twelve years ago, Catherine MacLeod was a participant in BCSS’ SFT course. She gained information and support, and loved it so much that she became a facilitator! Catherine underwent the training and then for the next ten years taught the course in Burnaby, Surrey, and Langley – helping hundreds of families better understand both serious mental illness and how to navigate BC’s mental health system. Over the last two years, Catherine transitioned her course onto Zoom and helped families in the Vancouver Region build strategies for understanding and coping with the affects of serious mental illness on a family.

Catherine was a real advocate of this amazing Family Education course and helped more than 200 family members understand how they could support their loved one. She touched even many more lives along the way.

In July, Catherine unexpectedly passed away, and we are sad to have lost such a determined and dedicated volunteer – a person who was always willing to help families to the best of her abilities. Catherine was an advocate for families and she will be missed deeply by all those who had the good fortune of knowing her – of having received education and supported from her.

However, she leaves a legacy with BCSS. Jennifer Kastelein, one of her students from an SFT course, was extremely interested in facilitating an SFT. Jennifer reached out to Catherine to find out what more she could learn and do to help families like hers… and as they say, the rest is history.

Catherine worked with Jennifer, coaching and training her to be a facilitation partner – together leading families through the SFT course both in person and then virtually at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Jennifer is so grateful for Catherine McLeod’s mentorship and friendship, and hopes to live up to Catherine’s legacy in advocating for mental health and helping families as a BCSS Regional Educator.