Getting to Know: Marilee D’Arcueil

Founder, The Social Human

Marilee D’Arcueil describes herself as a ‘Creative Community Healer,’ a title that turns trauma into healing, and weaknesses into strengths. “I am creating a fun and healthy community for those in recovery from drug and alcohol use. Through designing and hosting dry morning dance parties, and wellness and lifestyle workshops I will help individuals learn how to build a new healthy life post addictions,” she says about her business.

As a social entrepreneur, Marilee’s experience doesn’t come from a business standpoint, but rather a very personal journey. “I have been sober for almost four years and had to give up alcohol for health reasons. It wasn’t until I stopped drinking that I realized how much of my social life revolved around environments where alcohol consumption was the primary goal. I stopped getting invited to parties and events because I was no longer “fun”. I no longer had alcohol to help me deal with my social anxiety and I fell out of touch with a number of friends whose only idea of hanging out involved drinking,” she says.

After Marilee struggled to find support in her life that didn’t revolve around alcohol, both social experiences and friendships alike, she decided that if she would create the space herself. “If I couldn’t find a community that I needed I would have to create it. By intentionally designing spaces and events that offer all of the things I enjoyed about socializing without the alcohol I am helping other people in recovery reconnect to the best parts of socializing with fewer addictions triggers,” she states. “I want to change the way we party, have fun, share knowledge, and design meaningful and healthy lives free from addiction, with a whole lot more connectedness and loving community support. I am passionate about this work because I know that for many, drinking and doing drugs is an attempt to cover up inner struggles with mental health. Choosing a life of recovery from addictions is hard. Dealing with mental health on top of that is even harder and can cause an increased sense of isolation. As a Creative Community Healer I want to help make the process of recovery less gloomy and isolating, and more fun, re-invigorating, and connected,” she continues.

Although Marilee completed a Social Entrepreneur Fellowship with The School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario, she realized that mental health plays a huge role in any small business. “Mental health is tantamount to being a successful social entrepreneur. This needs to be a priority even if you think that ‘mental illness’ or life struggles don’t affect you, being a social entrepreneur will test your character, sense of self-worth, and the relationships in your life,” she says. “What I learned along the way is that no one is responsible for those times where I lose sight of my passion and drive to do the work that needs to be done. I have to do the heavy work alone to prove my concept, and define my business vision, mission, and plan. I have to continually motivate and promote myself, and many times I feel like an impostor but I can’t let that distract me. It’s hard to find a mentor that will make the time to help navigate all the steps to getting a unique business started. I wish someone told me how difficult it is to build and maintain a network of support that will follow through on the support part.”

To further understand how the themes of mental health and business are interconnected, Marilee wants to invest in understanding her business’ demographic, as well as create programming that better benefits the quality of life of the participants and its employees.

Right now, Marliee is looking to partner with other creative community healers, including the possibility of a co-founder, and researchers willing to seek out different recovery models. She can be reached via LinkedIn or email (mdarceuil@live.com).

Story written by Erin Ashley

Marilee is a participant in the Hook It Up program delivered by Socent7. Hook It Up is a support program for young social entrepreneurs in Ontario. Learn more at www.hookitup.ca.

**END OF PROGRAM UPDATE** Marilee has developed partnerships to deliver a series of videos and podcasts focused on seven themes of wellness and established a future plan for her venture, called The Social Human. Her top message to other young social entrepreneurs: “courage isn’t something you wait for, it takes action, in the doing you find the courage. Hiding behind research and networking will only get you so far. A leap of faith is required and there is no such thing as the “right” moment, or a “perfect” business plan or project plan.”