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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

CAMH sets the bar high for nurses in Ontario

Renford Jeffrey (RN) receives honourable mention in this year’s crop of Toronto Star Nightingale nominees

Renford Jeffrey
Renford Jeffrey, registered nurse at CAMH

For Renford Jeffrey, it’s all about relationships. They are what have guided his work as a registered nurse at CAMH for the past 25 years. “A client deserves respect,” he said. “That has always been hugely important to me.” The value, dignity and esteem that Renford shows every person he meets has earned him honourable mention in this year’s crop of Toronto Star Nightingale nominees.

On a daily basis, Renford makes it his mission to add value to the lives of the people he is working with. “Every single person has the potential to be something great. It’s up to others to help nurture this; to help them rise to their potential,” he said. “That’s what I try to do.”

Renford has worked with challenging clients throughout his career, but not once has this caused his commitment to waver. “I once worked with a client who struggled with drug addiction, gang activity and criminal charges. He found it difficult to trust anyone, but I always made an effort to acknowledge him and make him feel accepted,” said Renford. “He is now stable, has attended college and is viewed as a leader in his community.”

The patience and dedication that Renford displays in his work with CAMH clients spreads to the local community as well. He and his wife founded Children of Excellence, a Canadian not-for-profit that assists youth at risk and on a weekly basis he prepares a full course meal for priority communities in Scarborough. “Helping these people is an extension of what I do at CAMH,” Renford explains. “I’ve actually been thinking of changing my middle name to Community.”

It was Bobbi Jo Lambert, one of Renford’s colleagues, who put him up for the Nightingale Award. “I felt that his excellence in nursing and incredible volunteer work with priority communities deserved some formal recognition,” she said. “Renford supports some of the most complex and challenging clients and his ability to lead is unparalleled.”

Bobbi Jo and Renford have worked together for the past five years as part of CAMH’s Downtown Central Assertive Community Treatment (DCAT) team (a division of Complex Mental Illness services), which has increased its servicing offering significantly with Renford in the lineup. 

“It’s been a team effort,” Renford said.  “I’m a product of the group dynamic that we have here, which is something that extends to the clients we are working with. We know that together we’re doing meaningful and transformative work.”

Renford with team
Renford shares a laugh with the Downtown Central ACT team

It is Renford’s hope that this rewarding experience will act as a jumping off point for him to continue giving back to the community and to begin educating others about the ways that they can help, too. He’s currently developing the International Coalition for Community Action (ICCA), an organization that stimulates more community involvement in the lives of youth in Canada and in other countries.

Renford sums up his passion for nursing and the relationships he has with his clients by saying: “If you want to find fulfillment in your life, find a cause that is bigger than yourself to live for. There is nothing in this world you can do that is greater than helping someone in need.”

Be sure to read the Toronto Star’s article featuring Renford in tomorrow’s (May 9th) edition of the newspaper.

Renford has picture taken by Toronto Star photographer
Renford has his picture taken by a Toronto Star photographer as he walks down Queen St. West

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