Ben* had been having a tough time before joining Matheson House in Prince Albert.

He had been struggling with substance use, depression, and anxiety in his home community. 

But things began to look brighter for Ben when he was welcomed by the team at Matheson, including unit manager Ron Schlamp.

“He has grown incredibly and is in a much-improved place now than he was when he arrived here with us,” Ron said. 

Gillian Cook, a caseworker at Matheson, said the biggest changes began to happen when relationships were built with Ben.

She remembers working with him on a values exercise, where staff found out who he really values.

They learned Ben had an important relationship with his grandfather. It allowed them to really embody some of his grandfather’s characteristics, like being kind and gentle and gave them ideas to motivate Ben.

“We saw Ben instantly bond and it led to this building of relationships,” Gillian said. “We then started seeing different treatment outcomes succeeding. We really started to see him settle more like this is home, and we started to work on some of his goals and future dreams.”

Ben attributes lots of his success to the supportive staff and the relationships they formed.

“They really helped me overcome my issues, by talking to me and being around me,” Ben said. “I got used to it.”

Like life, there were some bumpy patches along the way. However, it was those relationships that kept Ben on track for success.

He has since graduated high school and plans on looking into going on to post-secondary. He also has a job.

“It feels pretty good to graduate,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d ever make it, but I did.”

He also credits his funding agency caseworker from back home for helping him through the process. She introduced Ben to the Ranch, and staff have had an excellent relationship with her.

“There have always been good lines of communication, and they’ve been supportive of us. She leaves us to do what we need to do and comes in to support him and have conversations with him,” Gillian said. “They want him to succeed and they are very proud of him too. It’s remarkable to have all those working parts work together.”

Going forward, Ben said he’s thinking about working in corrections or youth care. He wants to give back to youth who have been in his shoes.

“I know how hard it is to grow up with a broken family and with no one really there,” he said. “Just having someone to talk to you and be there for you, it’s a good feeling.”

The staff are extremely proud of him.

“He’s done this, and he’s decided to make these changes, and I think a lot of staff feel like parents do – they’re just proud and excited for his future,” Gillian said. “It really does take a whole team, not one person, to make this happen.”

His funding agent is helping Ben find a new apartment once he leaves Matheson. As always, staff will be there to support him.

“Staff are always here if they ever need something,” Gillian said. “If Ben ever needs help, support, or connections, he knows staff will be there.”

*name changed for privacy