Emmanuelle Meyer

Emmanuelle Meyer

How an Ontario REALTOR® brought her community together to shine a light on mental health.

For Emmanuelle Meyer, REALTOR® with Royal LePage Signature Realty Plus in Oakville, communities thrive when their people thrive. Your community should be there to support you when you need it most.

When Emmanuelle noticed the mental health effects that COVID-19 was having on people in her community, she knew she needed to do something. She enlisted those in her network to develop an initiative that raises money for mental health services, while also raising awareness about the increased mental health struggles facing those in her community, especially those in younger generations. In two short weeks, she launched Camaraderie For Hope.

This is Emmanuelle’s Real Heart story.

Q: Tell us about Camaraderie For Hope.

A: Camaraderie For Hope is a local initiative focused on raising funds for mental health organizations and increasing awareness about mental health issues through the spread of hope, love and optimism. We do this through hosting fundraising events in the community and through sales of Camaraderie For Hope gift baskets, which people can buy for friends, family and corporate clients.

We want the people who are feeling sad, anxious and depressed, especially during COVID-19, to know their community cares and that they aren’t alone.

Camaraderie For Hope helps fundraise for two really great organizations: Halton’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), a Canadian Mental Health Association program that partners with local hospitals and police services to help those in crisis, and Reach Out Centre For Kids (ROCK), a Halton agency focused on child and youth mental health services.

Q: What was your inspiration for launching Camaraderie For Hope?

A: Canadians’ mental health has been a serious concern since the start of the pandemic. Having to stay at home has been tough for a lot of us. The ways that we may have previously coped with problems in our lives are either no longer available or they are increasingly harder to access.

Our wounds seemed to be getting bigger and bigger and I felt like I needed to do something. People shouldn’t have to deal with their struggles alone.

Q: How did Camaraderie For Hope come about? How did you enlist others in your community to get involved?

A: To launch an initiative of this scale, I knew I needed help. Luckily, I was able to get a diverse group of people involved, including a graphic designer, chef, accountant, financial professionals, and many others. I wanted to leverage their different skillsets to help launch this initiative. I’m so blessed that they all said yes right away. It was reassuring to see this group of individuals understand the seriousness of mental health issues in Oakville and that something needed to be done.

Within two weeks, we launched Camaraderie For Hope. We started by launching our website, and then the team created and sold these beautiful gift baskets designed by French chef and fellow team member, Guy Dongue. In two weeks of selling the baskets, we raised $4,500 for COAST. Our goal wasn’t to only raise money, though. We wanted to send a message of self-love – helping people understand that it’s important to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, then you can’t give love to others.

We promoted this message through social media. In February, leading up to Valentine’s Day, we launched a campaign called “Self-Love, Sending Love.”

Our goal was to share the idea that in order to give to others, you must first embrace and love yourself. We saw amazing engagement from the campaign and launched another push during March focused on self-compassion.

Camaraderie For Hope wouldn’t be where it was without the help of such an amazing team. They are all so kind-hearted and always give 100% in everything they do to support.

Q: What future initiatives is Camaraderie For Hope looking to support?

A: One area of concern we’d like to address is the mental health impact on children and teenagers. I feel many people have forgotten about the detrimental effects felt by younger generations during the pandemic.

I can’t imagine being a teenager or young child at home and having to quarantine for what has felt like forever. The frustration around the uncertainty of not knowing when you’ll return to school, and not being able to see your friends as easily before – it weighs on them.

At Camaraderie For Hope, we want to bring awareness to the struggles that the younger generation is facing and to help them find ways to cope during this difficult time. We have to help them get through this.

We are actually partnering with ROCK to host a golf fundraiser at Deerfield Golf Course in Oakville on June 18, where people can buy-in to play in the tournament. All proceeds go directly to ROCK to help support child and youth mental health services.

If you’re interested in signing up for this event, please visit Camaraderie For Hope’s website.

Q: Has the reception in Oakville to Camaraderie For Hope been positive?

A: Absolutely.

As the community became more aware of what we were doing, the support was immeasurable. Engagement on our social media channels increased and people began sharing their own stories and opened up about their experiences with mental health issues. This was the goal of Camaraderie For Hope – to allow people in our community the opportunity to open up and heal with each other. They don’t have to do it alone anymore.

It’s such a great example of community helping community.

My hope is that the more people who have opened up and who have successfully worked through their struggles, the more they can support others who need it.  Local businesses have also been reaching out to offer their support to us. That’s why our golf fundraiser for ROCK was possible. The community of Oakville has an inherent desire to help. It’s helped us take on these bigger challenges and raise more money. We know our community will support us.

Q: How has being a REALTOR® shaped your perspective? What does the Real Heart initiative mean to you?

A: As a REALTOR®, I work with and have become close with many people in Oakville. You learn a lot about them. It’s about understanding where people come from and their experiences that brought them to where they are today. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get involved during the pandemic. I began to see how hard it was hitting the people I’ve come to know so well.

Each person has their own unique story, but mental health really affects everyone. Seeing this first-hand gave me the perspective that something can, and should, be done.

I believe the Real Heart initiative should inspire. It’s about being passionate for a cause you’re interested in and going for it. You need to lead with your heart.

To learn more about Camaraderie For Hope and their work with COAST and ROCK, please visit their website.