Nazanin Fasihi cites her grandmother for instilling in her a call to help others. A philanthropist and role model for her granddaughter, she would help strangers furnish their homes with basic necessities.
“I was taught from a young age to care for and respect others, put myself in the shoes of others, and to give back to my community,” said Fasihi, a student in the Master of Counselling Psychology program in Vancouver. A mother of two, she organizes an event every year with her children and other families over Thanksgiving weekend in Canada to gather food for shelters in Vancouver.
“The main goal for this event is to encourage the children’s involvement in giving back to the community,” Fasihi said. “Children as young as 3 years old join us. We pack individual dinner boxes, bake muffins, and deliver the food to the shelter with the kids’ help.”
This year on October 12, about 60 parents and children provided a combined 190 meals to Lookout Society’s North Shore Shelter and Downtown East Side Women’s Centre.
“I want to be a good role model for my children,” Fasihi said. “I believe they learn the most by modelling my behaviour, so it is my job to show them how to be a respectful and helpful member of the community.”
Helping Women on the Road to Recovery
In her call to help others, Fasihi recently developed a personal quest to use her counselling skills to help people struggling with addiction on their journey to recovery.
She worked with Avalon Women’s Centre North Shore for her Social Justice Practicum, an opportunity for students to work with community partners to promote health, inclusion, and social justice. Part of the broader Avalon Recovery Society in Vancouver, the North Shore Centre provides free support services and a community for women recovering from addiction.
What she discovered at Avalon Recovery Society was a welcoming environment, new ways to use her skills and training—and a future career in addiction counseling.
“I felt a sense of belonging on the first day,” Fasihi said. “The women were saying how safe they feel in this environment to share their stories.”
Fasihi said she wanted to hear every woman’s story and was moved by their unique journey, strength, and resilience. She instantly felt a calling to use her counselling skills and education to help them along the road to recovery.
“I never thought I would do addiction counselling, but coming here has changed my mind,” she said. Hearing about people’s different experiences, Fasihi said she realized that “Addiction has so many faces for me now. I want to be part of the change these women are going through.”
Fasihi is continuing her work at Avalon Recovery Society, providing one-on-one counseling for women at the North Shore location this year as she works toward her ultimate goal of becoming a marriage and family counselor who specializes in addiction.
“After coming to Avalon and being able to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and hearing the stories, I realized how important it is for me to know more about addiction and how it can affect the entire family,” Fasihi said. She would like to continue to expand her knowledge and understanding about addiction so she can help individuals and families heal.