These are the stories of just a handful of Beacon Club members.

The club is instrumental in its members` lives and makes a positive difference in their lives and the community as a whole.

While Island Health provides much needed dollars for rent, utilities and staffing, the Society needs to raise the additional dollars to supply lunches, life skill and recreation programming, and other overhead costs such as insurance, bookkeeping, repairs and maintenance to help these folks who are the success stories of those seen of those living with mental illness.  Their annual walk to raise dollars was cancelled this year due to COVID.

If you are able to donate at least the cost of a cup of coffee to support this worthy cause, please use the link below to help.

Donations of $25 or more will receive a tax receipt.

Dan "D"

“I never used to talk to people”. he says “Now I talk all the time” he continues with a laugh.  “I’ve met all kinds of people since I started coming here, about 2 years ago.”  A regular lunch-attender, Dan also appreciates getting a hot meal in the middle of the day.  “I don’t read or write” he continues “and once I started coming and getting to know people, I got someone to read notices I’d received from B.C. Hydro.  I’d been overpaying and haven’t had to make a payment for the past 2 years”.

Dan has lived in Campbell River for 30 years now, having moved with his family from Toronto to B.C. where his father ran a Dairy Farm.  “Work all day long” Dan says wryly.  He tells how he suffered from depression for many years – unbeknown to him, like many sufferers, - and once diagnosed, began taking medication.  “Changed my life” he says “I’m getting out and about, I’ve taken a cooking course here, I’ve made lots of good friends.  I never want to leave The Beacon Club” Dan grins, wagging his head which is adorned with a stylish cap decorated with delicate brooches and pins, matching his many-ringed ear.  Dan was knocked over on a cross-walk and is awaiting a new knee, plus has to use a cane to assist his walking; despite that he’s full of good cheer.

“I don’t think I would be here if the Beacon Club wasn’t here.” Dan says.  “Fran’s presence alone makes me feel calm and better.  I would recommend it to anyone.


Another appreciative member is Gene B.  When his brother died, Gene spiralled into crisis, and ran away from home.  When he was picked up by Police, he began a journey which led to a diagnosis of his mental illness, which had been causing him to want to end his life.  After some years shuttling between Courtenay and his home of Port Alberni, Gene settled in Campbell River with his sister, and has been a club member for about 2 years.  He really appreciates how helpful all the staff are and says Fran (who has been with the Club for 20 years) is an angel.   Like all the members, Gene misses being able to come to the Club a few times a week, and he especially misses the hot lunches.  Since Covid 19, as only 6 members a day can come to the Club, people have to sign up and take turns to come.  If the Club was able to expand, more members could attend.

“The Beacon Club saves people’s lives” Gene says bluntly in his shy, rather nervous voice.  “You can come here and find someone to talk to.  I know how lucky I am to live with a girlfriend and have someone to share my time with.  Many members live alone and rely on the Beacon Club to see their friends, and meet new people.  Everybody needs to feel someone cares.  My life is better with the Beacon Club even under Covid.  I’ve been through a series of events because of my illness, and I’d like to be able to go back and thank my brother every day from my heart, because through his death, I got help.”


Anne S. has been a member of the Beacon Club for about 6 years.  She tells how she lived in isolation prior to connecting with the Beacon Club through Mental Health Services.  “I was suffering from bipolar disorder” Anne says “I never went out of the house.  The Beacon Club gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning and get out the house.  Otherwise I would spend my days on the computer or watching television.  The Club gives me a feeling of safety, and it’s fun to be here.  It made a big difference right from the start; part of my isolation came from often being in a state of deep depression.”

Anne’s life obviously turned around after her diagnosis of mental illness and subsequent medical help, a huge part of which was connecting to the Beacon Club.  “I became a member of the Board and found it interesting; I learned about protocol in business meetings, as well as new computer skills.”

Anne is not the only member to have flourished through the Beacon Club.  One of the participants in the Dinner Bell programme went on to work in a local hotel.  “Work experience gives people confidence,” Anne says.  “The hot lunches are great” she continues, “I often just have a sandwich later in the day, I’ve had such a good lunch.  We need more places for people who suffer from mental illness, more places like the Beacon Club.  It encourages integration in public too; we went out for a fundraising walk and got to talk to people on the streets about what’s going on here, in their town.  It also spreads the word that there is help available for people with mental illness.  We enjoyed ourselves at The Club too; we made a competition to see who raised the most money.  The Club is like family, we learn some skills that are useful, and can network.   If we had more rooms, we could have more private conversations.  Right now, in this cramped space, there are too many people talking at the same time.  The musicians could have more room to practice in as well.”


Nora B has been a member of the club since it first opened.   Before the Beacon Club opened Nora was a widow much on her own.  She was referred to the club by her worker at Mental Heath and had nothing but good things to say about it.  “The club is very good for me, it’s somewhere to go and meet people; it helps a lot.”  Nora deals with agoraphobia and anxiety and found it hard to join in at first but is now very happy to be there.


Brent is a member who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the Clarke Institute in Toronto.  He relocated to Campbell River 8 years ago and became ill again after his move.  He connected with Mental Health Services and joined the Beacon Club.   “I`ve never looked back.  The club is great – it gets me out of the house and helps me stay stable.  It`s good to get out and do something and connect with people.  We are social creatures. ”

“I don’t think I would be here if the Beacon Club wasn’t here.” Dan says.  “Fran’s presence alone makes me feel calm and better.  I would recommend it to anyone.

Fran, Barb and Althea are the permanent staff and all the members value them enormously.

Some of the members have gone on to hold down paid employment through their training at the Beacon Club’s Job Coach programme, again funded by Island Mental Health.

Simply by being around caring people who model behaviour conducive to forming and sharing community, members also gain important social skills and graces – how to set a table, serve other members their meals, starting with the elders.

The Club arranges day trips to neighbouring communities with sister-clubs to ‘The Beacon’ often to share food, sometimes a baseball game, and generally to have fun. They take the members to beauty spots and places of interest as well.