Ph.D. | MCS | OT(c)
"Being part of Sanctuary expresses an ongoing belief that Christian communities can extend love well. Having walked through recovery, I discovered this to be true and desire it to be true for others. Sanctuary community is learning to walk this way too - facilitating safety for vulnerability, encouraging creativity, managing our capacity and free with affection. If we can do it, anyone can."
Sharon co-founded Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries in 2011 and served as Executive Director from 2011 - 2016. Sharon has spent much of her professional career working as an occupational therapist in acute and community mental health settings in South Africa and Vancouver, Canada. She has her Masters in Christian Studies from Regent College and her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of British Columbia. Her dissertation explored the meaning of spirituality for people living with schizophrenia. She is passionate about working with people who experience mental health issues, facilitating their integration into spiritual communities.
Mental health work became a personal passion for Sharon, when she journeyed with her late husband, Alex, through his depression, resulting in his suicide in 2005. Sharon spent a year (2009-2010) as the Executive Director of Jacob’s Well, a ministry that invites people into friendship with residents of Vancouver’s downtown eastside and three years (2010 - 2013) with Vancouver Coastal Health as a mental health professional. Sharon retired as Executive Director of Sanctuary in February, 2016. She consults for mental health organizations to integrate spirituality into mental health care and is adjunct faculty in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia.
MA | CCDP
Director of Programming and Operations
"In 2011, I attended a Sanctuary workshop on mental health and was profoundly impacted by the vision and hope of Sanctuary. Over the next few years, I walked alongside as a volunteer and community coach before being invited to take on the role of Director of Programming and then Operations. During our executive leadership search, I served as Acting Executive Director. Where my academic and professional background enable me in this role, my involvement with Sanctuary is a response to God’s invitation to facilitate and share ways to Be Christ's LOVE and light in the community. I am honoured to find myself at a time and place where I can do work that embodies Christ."
Terresa has been guiding communities, organizations and individuals from present to preferred positions for more than twenty years. Recognized as an innovative, strategic and possibility thinker, Terresa has worked with local, national and international groups helping them align themselves with changing times and needs. Through her director, adviser and facilitator roles, Terresa has supported communities and organizations in the education, employment, health, justice, and faith communities.
Her work experience is enriched with an MA in Leadership from Trinity Western University, Graduate Certificate in Career Development from Royal Roads University, Education for Ministry studies through the Anglican Church of Canada, Undergraduate Diplomas in Business and Adult Education and now an array of learning about mental health in the community. Most recently, Terresa served as Executive Director for The People’s Law School, President of the Public Legal Education Association of Canada, and Director of Union Gospel Mission. Terresa is an adviser for the Canadian Executive Services Organization and co-founder of TaLedi Enterprise Development Inc.
Contractor, Digital Design Specialist
"Experiencing a mental health issue is a personal struggle that I would not wish on anyone. I am determined to turn it into a positive by doing what I can to help Sanctuary promote understanding, knowledge and awareness of mental health breakdown, as well as options for support and recovery, especially within church and parish communities."
Will is a graphic designer and founder of KOZMOGRAF/X Motion & Design, and has been in the industry since 1984 - the dawn of the computer graphics era. After stints in presentation graphics (remember slide shows?) in the late 80s/early 90s, he went on to join the marketing communications departments of MPR Teltech, IBM Canada, and PMC-Sierra. His life was relatively "peachy" until he suffered a life-altering mental health setback of his own, so he has experienced first-hand the struggles of mental health issues... or as he prefers to call it, a "brain injury.” This includes the difficulties in getting the right care, the vulnerability in being open about it, the fear of stigma, and the challenges for family/friends who don't understand or know how to offer support. He is grateful that there are options for recovery and growing awareness, but believes we are still a long ways from being as comfortable and familiar with mental health care as we are with physical care.
"I have been working as the bookkeeper for Sanctuary since February 2014. Working with Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries is an honour for me. I feel I am part of a team who cares about people’s health and does their best to show love and facilitate safety, creativity and confidence for the most vulnerable."
Azar migrated to Canada from Iran with her family in 2002, and became a proud Canadian citizen in 2006. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from Iran, has studied Accounting and Payroll in Canada, and has been working as a bookkeeper since 2007 with different companies (mostly Non-Profit).
Volunteer, Peer Support Coordinator
"Having walked the journey of struggle with mental health issues my whole life, it took decades to get help and I felt lost in the church. It gives me great satisfaction to help others in their journey with the help that I did not receive for so long, especially inside a faith-based community. Sanctuary gives people like me the chance to help churches and parishes of all denominations access the tools they need to help those in their congregations struggling with mental health issues. I feel that Sanctuary does a great job in creating awareness and understanding about mental health within our community, which is so desperately needed. It is so exciting to be a part of this amazing ministry!"
Born and raised in Richmond BC, Roger attended Sunday school regularly growing up. He owned his Christianity at a bible camp when he was 13. Roger went on to graduate from UBC Commerce in 1992 and obtain his Certified General Accountant designation in 1996. He joined the Federal Government that same year and worked on a variety of specialized projects in Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal over most of the next 19 years.
Roger also speaks intermediate German and French, and has travelled to Europe many times to visit relatives in Germany and Austria. He enjoys downhill skiing and bicycling, as well as traveling to other parts of the world. Roger spends a lot of time on his parent’s recreational property in Langley, clearing brush and chopping firewood, among other things.
Roger struggled with serious anxiety his entire life, and deep depressions began disrupting his ability to work in 2006. He was hospitalized for three weeks in 2011 after a major manic episode and was subsequently diagnosed with Bi-Polar 1 disorder. In 2015, Roger was forced to leave his career with the Federal Government largely due to his struggles with mental health issues, and hopes to work part time in the future while caring for his elderly parents.
Roger began attending a Living Room group in 2012. From that experience, he began volunteering with Sanctuary in early 2013 for several specific projects and work-shops. In the fall of 2014, he began helping in an ongoing roll in communications for Living Room Groups.
Volunteer, Speaking my Mind Club Coordinator
"Churches and parishes may be the first point of contact for many people seeking support for their struggles with mental health issues. However, it can be difficult to provide effective support without adequate education and training. I believe that churches and parishes have the potential to provide unfathomable encouragement and love of real value to those who are journeying through mental health recovery – it is just a matter of equipping the communities and learning together to do so."
Jamie Matsumoto is a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia, where she earned a Bachelor of English (emphasis literature) and Sociology. Having seen those close to her struggle with mental health issues and having struggled herself, she is passionate about mental health and challenging the stigma that surrounds it. On a broader spectrum, she feels strongly about challenging all barriers to inequality.