Women’s Day Inspiration: Michelle Swan

Women’s Day Interview with Michelle Swan, Centre Manager of Avalon Recovery Society
– Battling her own personal journey with addiction and mental health issues, Michelle has channeled her experience into one of compassion and patience to make Avalon a place of inclusivity and established stable programs for vulnerable women to feel empowered.  

International Women’s Day was created in the early 1900s as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of women. Today we are honoured to share with you women who inspire us in the Arts, Media, and Community. Because it’s not just the future that is female, it’s right here, in the present.

How has your journey with addiction and mental health issues shaped how you run Avalon?
Understanding the disease of addiction has enabled me to be more compassionate and patient. I can appreciate the complexity of what they have to deal with and can help them build a manageable plan of action.
What’s a day in the life like for you?
A day in the life at Avalon is spent mainly in triage attending to the needs of the women and children and family members who call and drop-in looking for resources. Outside of that my time is spent managing volunteers, doing administration, organizing fundraising events, writing grants, setting up workshops, maintaining the centre, and outreach.
As the site manager, how important is it to make Avalon a welcoming, inclusive place?
Creating a warm, safe, welcoming and inclusive environment is at the heart of the success of Avalon. The environment speaks to our intention of care and that each women deserves that care. Our staff and volunteers have created a nurturing place for women to connect.
What are the current challenges for women in your industry? How do you overcome them?
Accessing healthcare, addiction treatment, safe, supportive housing, and professional counselling are the most current challenges for women we deal with. Avalon offers addiction support groups and counseling and has nurtured community partnerships with other service providers to fill in the gaps.
How do you create a supportive environment for yourself and your team?
Direct and calm communication. Ongoing training and development. And a tidy, organized work space have created a work environment that is supportive and solutions-focused.
Who has been your greatest influence/mentor in your life?
My greatest influences have been the women I have met in addiction recovery. Their courage to heal and change is an inspiration for me every day.


~ Carol Liu, Marketing Coordinator

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