Trusted Saskatoon welcomes Sanctum Care Group, the latest addition to our Trusted Saskatoon Non-Profit Category. This revolutionary non-profit organization is making waves with its innovative HIV care model, drawing attention from across Saskatchewan and beyond. In this blog post, we'll delve into the inspiring story of Sanctum Care Group, its founders, and their impactful work to provide holistic care to individuals with or at risk of HIV.
Katelyn & Morris
The story begins with Katelyn Roberts and Dr. Morris Markentin, two relentless individuals who defied skeptics to establish Saskatchewan's first HIV hospice. Katelyn, a former HIV case manager, pitched the idea to Dr. Markentin years ago over a meal at their favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Saskatoon. Their vision was to shift the focus from reactive to proactive care, providing preventative, holistic, and trauma-informed support before problems escalated.
Dr. Markentin, with years of experience in addiction medicine, recognized the interconnected issues of poverty, inadequate housing, and trauma as the root causes of his patients' challenges. Sanctum Care Group found its home in an empty building on Avenue O, a space provided by the St. Paul's Hospital Foundation. The initial days were challenging, with only two residents –a patient affectionately known as the "Lone Ranger" and Katelyn Roberts herself. When the second patient moved in, the Lone Ranger stretched out a hand and said, “Welcome to heaven.” Soon, the 10-bed facility was battling a six-month waiting list. For many, it was the first time in their lives that many of the residents had a safe, stable place to call home.
The Impact of Sanctum Care Group
Today, Sanctum Care Group provides solace for individuals with HIV, supports mothers in keeping custody of and reuniting with their children, and offers a peaceful environment for palliative patients. Dr. Markentin emphasizes that, at Sanctum, no one has to face death alone. The organization has extended its reach through various initiatives, connecting former residents to housing and Sanctum 1.5, a neonatal care home for pregnant women, those with HIV or those at risk of contracting it.
Acknowledging that the journey was far from perfect, Dr. Markentin believes that Sanctum Care Group has made a significant impact already, and they have so much more to give! The organization's signature fundraiser, the annual Sanctum Survivor, involves community leaders spending 36 hours on the streets, simulating the challenges faced by those with chronic diseases and no housing. This event raises funds and fosters a deeper understanding of the struggles in Saskatoon's core neighbourhoods.
In 2023, the founder of Trusted Sara Wheelwright stepped up to participate as one of the ten survivors in the Sanctum Survivor event. Together, they raised a staggering $426,000, with Sara individually contributing an impressive $26,700. The huge final total was greatly impacted by the efforts of 2023 survivor participant David Dube, who surpassed his personal $100,000 fundraising goal and announced at the Sanctum Gala that his total would be matched by the Les & Irene Dubé Foundation.
Reflecting on her experience, Sara said:
"The Sanctum Survivor experience was extremely humbling; I had no idea how many barriers our cities' most vulnerable citizens face in their daily lives. When I understood how impactful Sanctum is , I was determined to help them going forward - the work they do is so needed and I hope I can help them as they grow and share their model for the benefit of all involved! "
This is a glimpse of their experience.
Sanctum Care Group's journey is a testament to the power of determination, compassion, and a vision for proactive care. As they continue to expand and share their proven programs, Sanctum Care Group is making a lasting impact on the lives of individuals with HIV and their families. Trusted Saskatoon is excited to have them in our Non-Profit Category, and we look forward to amplifying and supporting their transformative work for the community.