Care for Caretakers Fellowship

A 6 month Program for the Pictou/Antigonish/Guysborough Community


* Opening Retreat – June14-16th 2024

* Community of Practice July-October 2024

* Celebratory Retreat November 15-16, 2024

A Humble Invitation

From one community organizer to another, we all know there are times when the weight of our dedication begins to wear on our spirits. For those who pour their hearts into the betterment of our community, the one thing we rarely can avoid are the common signs of impending burnout that become so familiar they are almost normalized. Never ending busy-ness and exhaustion, physical signs like anxiety, and headaches, a tendency to delay or cancel days off or vacations…sound familiar?

We’ve been there and watched many friends quit volunteer roles or leave the non-profit sector when these factors add up. It’s in these moments of exhaustion and uncertainty that we must extend a hand to one another.

With that in mind, we are thrilled to share a special 6-month fellowship designed specifically for the unsung heroes of our community. To the volunteers, the staff, the leaders who have tirelessly given of themselves in the non-profit and charitable sectors that sustain us, we see you. We recognize the challenges you face, and we want you to feel seen and supported in your efforts. We can’t solve the systemic barriers that compound the challenges (like chronic under-funding and challenging work environments) but we have found a few things that have made a deep and healing impact for us as individuals and we would like to share these resources with you. We can start, together, to build our healthy habits and a community of support too. 

Our offer

We invite you to consider joining a brand new Care for Caretakers Fellowship. This Fellowship is a fully funded, multi-month, retreat-centered Fellowship with a goal to ‘take better care of community caretakers’. We want to support and honour those who are dedicated to making a positive impact through their involvement in the nonprofit and charitable sectors across our region because these folks are helping build the kind of communities we want to live in – inclusive, kind, connected and vibrant. 

The details:

The Care for Caretakers Fellowship will launch with an in-person retreat on June 14-16th at FireLoch in Lochaber NS. Participants will be lodged at the MicroTel Hotel and be shuttled back and forth from FireLoch where community facilitators will provide opportunities for nature immersion, rest, resources, practical tools to address burnout, and together we will connect to launch a supportive local network for the sector.

From July – November, participants will engage in monthly virtual/in person sessions with this new network to continue to learn about tools and resources for addressing burnout and caregiver fatigue. Participants will also have access to a personal “spending account” to access and experiment individually with local support services like therapy, nutrition coaching, etc, or self-directed creative engagements too, like pottery, horticultural therapy, movement practices. 

On November 15th we will gather again to reflect on our collective and individual experiments with care-centered interventions. We will celebrate our small wins and track the impact this program has had so we know what to replicate for next year’s program too. 

This is the first offering of the Care for Caretakers Fellowship so all participants will be actively engaged throughout in providing feedback and helping pivot toward the most helpful resources based on the needs of the group itself. Feedback from participants will help design impactful programming we plan to offer for years to come.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please keep reading for more information!

Who should apply?

We want to connect with volunteers and staff from non-profit/charitable organizations and projects (big or tiny!) who are working to build and support communities in Pictou/Antigonish/Guysborough. This will be a whole-person learning journey and we anticipate everyone will have very different starting points so we have listed a few helpful guidelines to help identify if this is the right program for you:

  • Despite many obstacles you tend to focus on solutions and experiment with work-arounds to achieve your vision.

  • You might not have taken time to move gently or invest in yourself lately but you know it is long overdue and you recognize the need for changing patterns in your life.

  • You recognize that change comes from within.

  • You have good and bad days but remain perpetually curious and available for new skills and awareness.

  • You embrace difference and diversity of thought and experience as a valuable resource.

  • You might have seen a lot of unhealthy patterns in your own life and in your work but you continue to move with curiosity rather than certainty.

All participants must be available to attend in person retreats on June 14-16 and November 15th. We will work with you to remove any barriers as they arise; we can provide assistance with transportation, accommodation, letters of support if required by an employer, and can provide financial support for childcare or eldercare if required. Please reach out to discuss options.

Who are we?

, nattyThe primary coordinators for the Care for Caretakers Fellowship are Jennifer DeCoste and Amy Sedgwick and natty abdou. 

Core Facilitators:

Amy Sedgwick is a dedicated occupational therapist, educator, and advocate whose work spans diverse realms of holistic health, reproductive rights, and psychedelic therapy. With a commitment to compassionate care and innovative approaches, Amy has made significant contributions to the fields of occupational therapy and women’s health. The theme of Amy’s work has always been on addressing wellbeing from the context of health promotion, rather than sick care.

Amy is excited to be involved in the Wingspan project because she believes in the power of nature and human connection to build healthy lives and healthy communities.

natty abdou is a community facilitator, theatre artist, reiki practitioner and earth-tender.  On an ever-evolving journey of curiosity and learning, natty has spent the last 20 years connecting and collaborating with diverse communities in North America and Egypt, supporting the co-creation of learning environments that honour all of sentient life and embraces a vision of solidarity, social justice and change from the inside-out. natty creates participatory, embodied and arts-based practices as portals to change, making space for our souls to breathe and unleash the deep wisdom that resides within us and our lineages.  natty joins the Wingspan work to co-create space to reflect, share, learn and heal alongside one another for the purpose of personal, collective and systemic transformation


Jennifer DeCoste is dedicated to work that builds strong and connected communities. She is the Founder of a non-profit network of barter-based folkschools called LifeSchoolHouse that began in Nova Scotia in 2018. This platform for grassroots skills sharing creates stronger more interconnected neighborhoods and reduces the impact of social isolation by offering nourishing spaces where neighbors can learn, connect, and thrive. This project has been recognized globally and Jennifer is the first person in Atlantic Canada to receive the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship for her work. 

Jennifer and her partner are also growing a new social enterprise in Nova Scotia called FireLoch: a space in the forest for community, care, and continuous learning. Jennifer has two children and brings lived experience with community organizing while juggling multiple caretaking responsibilities (and personal experience with tremendous burnout) and is hosting this Fellowship as a way to pay forward the support received while working through acute burnout in 2022.

Cost to Participate:

We have estimated each enrolment at a value of $4350. Thanks to generous funding from the Gunn Family Foundation and private philanthropic contributions to this important work, we are able to subsidize the full fee for program participants. Part of our invitation includes a request that each participant make time to be active participants in the ongoing evaluation of this program. Your feedback will enable us to keep learning about the most effective tools and supports to address and prevent burnout for community caretakers. We estimate involvement in this ongoing, participant-led evaluation will take approximately 1-2 hours each month. 


If you are still reading and keen to engage with the Care for Caretakers Fellowship, we encourage you to apply below.  This program is open for application until May 15th and we will notify all successful candidates by May 17th. We welcome all questions and considerations via email to Please share this Fellowship far and wide to ensure it reaches folks who may not otherwise see themselves as candidates for a care-centered program such as this.