The Men's Project (TMP) first opened its doors to the Ottawa community on July 1, 1997. The creation of TMP was led by its two founders: Larry Gauthier, MSW, and Rick Goodwin, MSW RSW, and the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA. TMP was founded to address the existing gaps in community-based counselling resources for men, which were confirmed in a needs assessment that was conducted. Christy Green of the YMCA-YWCA played a critical role in the initial formation of this partnership.
The YMCA-YWCA concurred with the findings of this report, and formally supported the initiative by granting it office space along with other necessary services. With the help of some initial donations, the agency first started providing individual and group services that fall. Its initial structure was of a cooperative arrangement between therapists, with the YMCA-YWCA assisting by providing financial administration.
By 1998, TMP fulfilled its mandate by offering full group programming in the areas of trauma recovery (Men & Healing), anger management and emotional intelligence. Individual counselling services were also in place for this first full year of service.
In 1999, TMP first received project monies from the Ministry of the Solicitor General (now the Attorney General's office) to provide an assessment of services for male survivors in the Cornwall area, which also led to the first funding of Cornwall counselling services for male survivors - a first in the province.
As the demand for services grew, the structure of TMP was no longer able to sustain the growth and maturation of the agency. In May 2001, the cooperative closed, and TMP became incorporated as a provincial non-profit organization. Roy Grogan, Mike O'Farrell and Rick Goodwin were the original directors of the organization.
In 2002, TMP achieved its charitable status. Also in this year, Ms. Josephine FitzGerald became President of the Board.
In 2003, TMP began to manage all of its financial affairs. In 2004, the Board of Directors conducted a strategic planning process which included ratification of the Mission, Values and Vision statements.
Also in 2004, TMP led in the creation of the Ontario Association of Male Survivor Services and the Canadian Association of Male Survivor Services. Both of these time limited projects were wound down after their funding expired.
In 2005, TMP succeeded in gaining official standing in the Cornwall Public Inquiry (Special Standing for Part I, Full Standing for Part II), and a TMP Cornwall branch office was established. It was also the first year TMP achieved funding for the Fathering Program - a much needed resource in Ottawa. As well, Mr. Peter Gahlinger stepped forward as the agency's new President.
In 2006, TMP experienced significant growth in the training services arm of the agency. Training sites included M'Wikwedong Native Cultural Resource Centre (The Hearing, Healing, Hope program, Owen Sound), the Thunder Bay Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Counselling and Crisis Centre, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Probation Services of Cornwall, Partner Assault Response Services. The agency's clinical services were documented as a "Promising Healing Practice" in the Final Report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Report, Volume III. TMP lobbied successfully for "victim/witness support services" as part of the Inquiry. The first issue of TMP's electronic newsletter Manifestations was also issued during the year. In conjunction with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa Branch, a new service for male survivors who have concurrent discorder diagnosis was started at TMP.
A major expansion and renovation of the agency's offices was completed in 2007. While many people contributed, the greatest of accolades go to Peter Gahlinger, who, along with his Presidential duties, stepped in to ensure the job was done well.
The Cornwall Public Inquiry granted research monies for a handbook on service delivery for male survivors, an investigation into safe peer support services for survivors, a concept paper on an ombudsman for victims of sexual violence, and funding for five training workshops for Cornwall and area service providers. TMP also had a modest consulting role in a research paper by Circles Of Support and Accountability (COSA) on services to "victim/perpetrators" of sexual abuse.
Rick Goodwin received two awards on behalf of the agency in 2007; the inaugural Attorney General's Victim Services Awards of Distinction (for innovative service programming) and the Canadian Mental Health Association's Mental Health Award.
Also in 2007, the Men & Healing program was overhauled and became a phased model of intervention. Phase I, an eight-week psycho-educational program to prepare men for their healing recovery began in January of that year. Further training programs were delivered to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Cochrane Victim Services, and a series of training conferences in conjunction with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Bill Staubi took over as President in July 2007. That summer, TMP celebrated its 10th anniversary with an open house and reception at the YMCA-YWCA.
In March 2008, a first provincial Men of Courage conference was held in Toronto. Organized by TMP with a grant from the Ministry of the Attorney General, this sold-out event took place at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto. Keynote speakers included Fred Mathews, Andy Fisher, Jim Clemente, Richard Gartner, Steve Sullivan, Sheldon Kennedy, and Art Lockhart. A special lunch was keynoted by Grand Chieft Phil Fontaine. The Aboriginal Elder for the Men of Courage conference was Verne Roote.
Also in 2008, TMP engaged in its first international collaboration with 1in6, Inc., a new Los Angeles based non-profit organization mandated to serve male survivors. The first step in this collaboration has been for 1in6, Inc. to adopt TMP's clinical services model, and for TMP to provide training to their staff. In this regard, Rick Goodwin joined their Advisory Committee.
Mark Feldstein succeeded Bill Staubi as TMP's President in September 2008.
TMP also established its first west-end presence through a collaboration with the Nepean, Rideau and Osgoode Community Resource Centre. Starting with the delivery of Men & Healing treatment groups, the plan is to expand this partnership to allow for full service engagement at the Resource Centre. 2008 concluded with a further round of training for the Cornwall Public Inquiry.
From what was initially a volunteer-run initiative, TMP has grown to become one of Canada's leading counselling and educational agencies for men and their families, and in particular for male survivors. There has been a significant expansion of the agency's funded services, fee-for-service programs, and training and consultation services. As TMP moves forward, it remains rooted in its mandate: "helping men and their families build better lives".