How is Thrive connected to Urban Abbey?

Urban Abbey has multiple environments that people can participate in. Thrive is one such environment. The vision for Thrive was birthed out of the leadership of Urban Abbey. After attending various meetings where local government, medical and not for profit professionals discussed and shared the needs of Thunder Bay, Urban Abbey began having conversations about how they could join in aiding vulnerable populations within the city. One such group was young pregnant moms struggling with maternal substance use.

What is Thrive?

Thrive, is a 1 to 2 year, live in, life-on-life, relational journey towards holistic health for pregnant young women and their infants who are struggling with substance use. It is an environment that provides:

  • safe housing with supervision
  • a stable community: including peers/staff/volunteers/mentors
  • a healthy schedule that includes various recovery, counseling, and learning components specific to the needs of young pregnant women and their infants
  • individually tailored care plan

What Thrive is not!

Thrive is not a treatment center! It is a community of moms and infants moving towards holistic health in collaboration with professionals in the city who share our vision and are willing to donate their time.

Where does Thrive happen?

One environment in 2 settings: Setting #1 a beautiful home where women enjoy restful living and downtime on evenings and weekends. The address for this facility is private so that mom and baby can feel their home is safe and secure. Setting #2 all services and connections with training professionals, education, equipping and life skills happen onsite at Urban Abbey

Who are Thrive staff?

n addition to the support of Urban Abbey staff, there are two staff specific to the Thrive environment. The Director oversees the environment, as a whole, along with an Assistant Director. They care for the residence and the women while they are there. The staff of Thrive function to create individualized Thrive plans to assist participants as they journey towards flourishing. They function as:

  1. navigators who assist participants to find the right service providers and professionals to meet their journey requirements. These may be in the fields of prenatal and postnatal education and care, parenting skills and education, budgeting, decision making, life skill training, recovery and relapse counsel, behavioral therapy counseling, continuing education.
  2. facilitators of hands-on training in familiar fields. We have a kitchen and eventually a cafe/bakery where women will be invited to learn and practice new skills
  3. observers who offer helpful and objective perspectives.

What is Urban Abbey?

The Abbey is a Christian community based on an ancient Celtic model. The community lives and works together and has a specific focus on prayer, worship, community, hospitality, restoration and the Arts. Our major commitments are to: humility, simplicity and fidelity. We also value silence (i.e. from cultural noise). Our doors are open twice a day to the public for lunch and dinner - we eat together in community. We habitually offer emergency and transitional housing to those in need. An Abbey is like a monastery (an Anglican version of a Catholic one). It is a church community where staff live on site (or close by) and take vows or have a Rule of Life by which they live. People in Abbeys can be married (fidelity rather than celibacy). Part of Urban Abbey's mission is to reflect Christ by loving the city of Thunder Bay, and beginning with the most vulnerable and disempowered.

Who qualifies for the program?

Pregnant women aged 14 to 25 years of age Participants will have begun or be willing to engage in opioid replacement therapy (methadone/suboxone). They are typically women who are concerned about their current dependency on substance use and desire to journey toward more holistic health. We believe abstinence is ideal but we know that abstinence goals can be a source of stress or shame when women cannot achieve it... so our main hope is that these women will make gains in reducing their use of substances and will form a healthy attachment with their child.

Will you accept a participant who is currently using a substance?

We will certainly accept an application from someone still using. We could not give final approval for the environment until she has visited a clinic and begun replacement therapy. We would be glad to help an applicant who is seeking to join Thrive by making an appointment and helping her to a clinic or working with her worker to ensure this occurs prior to her arrival.

What if there is a relapse?

We understand that replapse is part of the recovery process. It may be an opportunity for greater honesty, self-awareness and motivation for greater commitment to various means of recovery. So, in the event of relapse, we would discuss the individual Thrive plan with the participant and discern where greater support is needed. If there is still a desire to move toward recovery and healthy living we will continue to journey with you.

What if a participant requires other intervention/alternative treatment with housing attached while in the Thrive environment?

There may be intermittent periods when a participant or their infant needs intervention in the form of hospitalization or other treatment requiring short-term alternative housing and care. This would not exclude participation in Thrive and we would strive to keep their place for a reasonable and appropriate length of time.

How is Thrive funded?

Urban Abbey is privately funded, so Thrive is funded in the same way. We do not receive any funds from the federal, provincial or municipal government or from our denomination. We rely soley on the generosity and donations of others. Staff raise their own funds for salary. Many have sold their own assets and belongings in order to be a part of Urban Abbey and help make Thrive happen. In the past months we have had labor and materials to fix the roof donated along with furniture like cribs and changing tables, a van, etc. We also participated in the local Ride for Refuge fundraiser and received additional donations. We hope to give people the opportunity to express and cultivate faith and generosity through giving.

Do you partner with other not for profit organizations in the city?

We collaborate with other not for profits in the city by belonging to the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, the Maternal Child Substance Use Working Group and PrenatalCoalition. We hope to continue to grow these networks of mutual support.

How do participant finances work?

Financial management represents a core piece of Thrive's educational and training components. This learning will come through budgeting and decision-making curriculum as well as an intentional, experiential space where healthy financial habits can be formed.
Participant expenditures will be divided into two fiscal management learning components:

  1. Living expenses: Taking responsibility for one's housing, food, and transportation ($600 monthly).
  2. Personal spending: As a means to practice budgeting, decision-making and delayed gratification, participants are expected to make and present a budget for how their money will be used.

How can volunteers be involved?

Volunteer opportunities will include sharing of professional skills/services as needed for participants, teaching life skills, providing childcare, acting as a mentor mom, promotion and administration, facilitating craft or other creative activities or being a house mom for a weekday or weekend. Volunteers must fill out an application, provide two references and provide Urban Abbey with an official background check.

How will participants be transported?

Thrive has it's own van to use for participants and their children.

Do participants need to have the same belief system as Urban Abbey?

At Thrive we value mutual cultural openness. Our staff are Christian, but our participants do not need to hold the same beliefs and do not have to participate in any religious or spiritual activities or classes. We hope that staff and participants will be sensitive to, aware of, and respectful of one another's cultural and other differences.

How do participants relate to/connect with their partners or other family members?

We are strong advocates for supporting family systems. Where it is healthy and appropriate for partners to be involved with mom and baby (and as suggested by professional counselors), we would like to support relational interactions in each woman's individualized care plan. Visiting hours and time for personal communication are part of our daily schedule. Our priority is to keep our spaces safe, so visitation will happen only at Urban Abbey during designated hours.