Libby Cook’s involvement with WrapAround began in 2005 at her congregation, Melrose United Church. Libby recognized the individuals who fell through the “gaping crevasses” of the social services system and that they needed to be supported. She was able to understand just how much a community can help an individual in need by bringing the social services to them, instead of having them go to these services. Libby stated, “we aren’t just a do for,” explaining the importance of fostering participant independence and the WrapAround values of voice and choice.
When thinking of WrapAround and its involvement with the United Church, Libby recalls the mission statement, “we aren’t alone.” To her, WrapAround is the embodiment of helping individuals in the community so that they understand that they have a support system, which is a philosophy that many faith communities believe in nurturing.
Libby has been a trained WrapAround facilitator since 2008. As a seasoned volunteer, she has developed the saying, “turning barriers into bridges,” to represent the WrapAround value of being a strengths-based process. As of fall 2016, Libby is now a certified WrapAround coach, where she is able to observe the facilitator’s implementation of the core values and WrapAround mission statements. Libby also is a chairperson and part of strategic planning for WrapAround Hamilton, where she uses her creative visions to increase further development and awareness in the city.
To Libby, her intuitiveness and ability to listen and fully understand where a participant is coming from makes her a successful facilitator. Her “elephant-like” memory and ability to link together pieces of information to form connections are all aspects that help her in guiding the WrapAround process. Getting involved with WrapAround helped her to grow as a whole person, becoming more aware of the resources available within her own community.
If Libby could choose one word to describe WrapAround, it would be a tie between respect and community. Respect is necessary in the process to represent the value of “no shame, no blame.” Community is the foundation of Wraparound because it takes a village to resolve difficult situations. In her everyday life, Libby lives the motto “creating community, one family at a time,” by continually being aware of the barriers that everyone has in their lives. Until you see it first hand, it is hard to gain an awareness of these issues going on right under your nose.
In 5 years’ time, Libby envisions being able to mention WrapAround and have a greater population be aware of the good they do. She would love to see more agencies and social services implement WrapAround. To better Hamilton as a city, Libby hopes that there is more accessible housing built and an increase in mental health resources in the near future.
Cassandra McDonald was the summer student for Shalem’s WrapAround program. She is an Honours Biology student at McMaster University