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Mental Health Association of San Mateo County and Cedar Street Apartments, Inc.
invite you to purchase an engraved tile to support the residents of Cedar Street
Apartments and other MHA clients through your contribution.
More than two hundred people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Cedar Street Apartments on May 10. Tom Harshman, President of Cedar Street Apartments, Inc., Board and Elise Clowës, President of MHA’s Board, officiated the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Two residents, Veronica Stevens and Bridgette Ohms, shared their deep gratitude for the opportunity to live at Cedar Street. Speakers included Jeff Gee, Vice Mayor of Redwood City; Duane Bay, Director of the San Mateo County Housing Department; Laurence Fergison, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Development Director for Section 202/811 Programs; Julie Hoffman for Representative Jackie Speier; Nanette Guevarra, California Housing Finance Agency; and Steve Kaplan, Director, San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.
Duane Bay highlighted the Cedar Street Apartments as emblematic of the vision of developing the Grand Boulevard along El Camino Real. Laurence Fergison of HUD described Cedar Street as an example of HUD’s commitment to quality housing, including double-paned windows, recycled materials, and energy star appliances. MHA staff gave executive director Melissa Platte a dozen roses in recognition of her six years of effort to bring Cedar Street Apartments to fruition. The ceremony closed with Board of Supervisors Chair Carol Groom cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of Cedar Street Apartments.
Cedar Street Apartments features fourteen studio apartments for adults living with serious mental illness (plus one unit for the on-site manager). Each fully furnished, 450 square foot studio includes a kitchen with oven and refrigerator. Residents will enjoy a community room with full kitchen, a landscaped courtyard, and laundry room. The federal subsidy provided through the HUD 811 program makes the units permanently affordable for people with mental illness whose incomes are well below the poverty line. On-site services include case management, wellness activities, nursing, occupational therapy, and medication assistance.
Cedar Street Apartments offers fourteen studio apartments to adults living with mental illness (and one unit for the on-site manager). The federal subsidy provided through the HUD 811 program makes the units permanently affordable for people with mental illness whose incomes are well below the poverty line. On-site supportive services focus on educational and vocational opportunities and activities.
Silicon Valley Community Foundation awarded $30,000 to the Mental Health Association of San Mateo County for fiscal year 2012-13 to support the Spring Street Shelter, the only emergency shelter in San Mateo County specifically designed to serve homeless adults in the mental health system. The grant will be used to provide case management to help them transition into permanent housing more quickly and successfully.
Silicon Valley Community Foundation increased funding to their Safety Net grants in December 2008 when the economic situation began to have a significant impact on some of the most vulnerable individuals in society and the nonprofit organizations that serve them. This is the fourth Safety Net grant MHA has received from Silicon Valley Community Foundation since 2008 to support the Spring Street Shelter.
The funding from Silicon Valley Community Foundation has allowed MHA to provide increased case management services to residents, which has resulted in shorter stays and more positive, long-term outcomes for residents. In addition, previous funding enabled MHA to provide meals for individuals with mental illness in the community who were struggling to get by because of the decrease in public benefits. This has made a significant difference in the lives of those we serve. We extend our thanks and appreciation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and County of San Mateo for their unique and critical collaboration during these difficult economic times.
The Sequoia Healthcare District awarded the Mental Health Association of San Mateo County $50,000 to support the wellness program at the Belmont Apartments and at Spring Street. This generous donation supports the expansion of the activities of MHA’s public health nurse, who leads wellness activities, provides direct care, and advocates for our clients with healthcare providers.
Physical health is essential to mental health. Individuals with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than the general population. The stress of coping with poor physical health exacerbates mental health problems. In response, MHA has supported for six years a public health nurse to work closely with the residents of St. Matthew Hotel, Belmont Apartments, and Spring Street.
In addition to all the activities of the public health nurse, this last year, supported by the Sequoia Healthcare District, the nonprofit Miles of Smiles began offering dental examinations and cleanings. This upcoming year the dental exams will continue, complemented by health fairs that offer cholesterol checks, body mass index, and chair massages.
MHA is deeply grateful to the Sequoia Healthcare District for their generous support. MHA is pleased to support the goals of Sequoia’s five major health areas: health literacy, healthy food, preventive health, behavioral health, and chronic disease management.
Mills-Peninsula Health Services granted MHA $10,000 to continue its wellness program at the St. Matthew Hotel in downtown San Mateo. MHA has been providing case management services at St. Matthew since 1997. Since 2006 MHA has supported a public health nurse to improve all aspects of the residents' physical and mental health. The public health nurse:
- instructs residents how to follow their healthcare regimens, including use of medications. The nurse also educates residents about hygiene, diet, and exercise.
- organizes health fairs to connect residents to health resources.
- evaluates acute medical conditions, then makes referrals or provides treatment, keeping residents from unnecessary trips to the emergency room.
- provides medical case management for residents when they see their doctor or go to the hospital to make sure they get the best care possible.
We thank Mills-Peninsula Health Services for supporting MHA's work to improve the physical and mental health of the residents of St. Matthew Hotel.
MHA received a Cy Pres award in In re Apple iPod Nano Cases. As a result of the settlement of the Apple iPod Nano case, MHA has received funds totaling over $100,000. We wish to thank the Law Offices of Pearson, Simon, Warshaw & Penny, LLP and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP for recommending us for the award. The funds will support technology upgrades, public health nursing expansion, supportive housing service staff, and expanded occupational therapy.
- Technology upgrade — We will upgrade our IT system to meet current needs and establish sufficient capacity for the foreseeable future.
- Public Health Nursing program expansion — A nurse now provides assessment, evaluation, medical case management, and minor treatment at St. Matthew Residential Hotel in San Mateo and at the Belmont Apartments. This settlement will allow us to expand the services to the Spring Street Shelter.
- Occupational Therapy — We will expand our occupational therapy services to provide more of our clients individualized evaluation and customized intervention to improve their ability to perform daily activities and reach their goals.
The Sequoia Healthcare District awarded MHA $30,000 to continue providing wellness services to the 24 residents of the Belmont Apartments. MHA’s two Public Health Nurse, Susan Miller and Shannon Zambricki, focus on three areas: wellness activities, medical case management, and client advocacy. This grant will also support an added service, oral/dental care.
MHA recognized years ago the importance of providing medical support to our clients. Individuals with mental illness die many years younger than the general population. Since 2005 Susan has been providing health care to MHA clients. At the Belmont Apartments, Susan and Shannon offer an array of health services. They provide one on one support, including medication management, foot care, blood pressure, and weight monitoring. They will also encourage healthy life style choices by offering nutrition and cooking classes, meditation, and walking groups. As the need arises, they evaluate acute medical conditions and make appropriate referrals or provide treatment to keep the residents from unnecessary visits to the emergency room.
As their medical case managers, they accompany residents to doctors’ appointments. Since they know each resident’s medical background in detail, they communicate the resident’s health status and help establish an effective treatment plan.
This year funding from Sequoia will support good oral health for the residents. Working with the organization Miles of Smiles, Inc., residents will receive oral cancer/soft tissue screening; assessments of plaque, tartar, and gum disease; and teeth cleaning.
February 4, 1942 - May 20, 2011
Wayne Dowling was a great friend of MHA. He was a Community Friend and served on the board of Cedar Street Apartments. Wayne was open about his mental health status and wrote articles about his bipolar disorder. He wrote about the early days of his illness, "I was suffering in my brain beyond description or belief. I cried incessantly. The agony kept me in constant anxiety and I could not sleep." He did not let his disorder relegate him to a passive existence. He graduated from Sequoia High School in 1960. In 1967 Wayne traveled by car throughout Canada and the United States. He earned his B.A. in psychology from Cal State Hayward in 1972. He married twice and fathered a daughter. Wayne was an accomplished saxophone player.
In the mid-1970s Wayne worked for the California Youth Authority and the San Jose Parole Unit. "I felt industrious in that I contributed to the welfare of others." After federal cutbacks eliminated the parole job, he worked as a group counselor for the Department of Forestry in 1977. The graveyard hours exhausted him. He then found MHA’s Friendship center, which he found to be a "great support."
Wayne never forgot the loneliness and isolation of mental illness. As a Community Friend, Wayne could be counted on to do the little things that mattered, such as taking a friend to the cobbler or to the bank. He was also an active member of a Bi-polar Support Group. The last time we saw Wayne was at the Cedar Street Apartments groundbreaking on May 9. He spoke that day, sharing in an eloquent and heartfelt manner the importance of Cedar Street Apartments for the people it will house.
Wayne will be missed by many as a friend, colleague, mentor, and inspiration. At the request of his family, donations in honor of Wayne's memory may be sent to The Mental Health Association of San Mateo County, 2687 Spring Street, Redwood City, California 94063.
CSL organizes two annual fundraisers, the Holiday Auction and Luncheon, and a Signature Kitchen Tour. This year, Hillsborough asked CSL to partner with them to run a Historic Homes Tour in honor of the town’s Centennial! Five historic homes that reflect the rich history of Hillsborough were opened for the public to tour, and the event was a tremendous success! CSL has been raising funds for MHA and YFES (Youth and Family Enrichment Services) for more than 30 years. During this time, CSL has donated over $1,300,000 to both agencies. The funds are unrestricted, and can be used to cover general operating expenses. MHA is grateful to CSL for its long-term support. The money raised by CSL helps some of the most vulnerable individuals in San Mateo County get and stay safely housed. Thank you, CSL!
Sequoia Healthcare District has awarded MHA a $20,000 grant to support the provision of nursing services at Belmont Apartments, a 24-unit apartment building for people with mental illness. The funding will be used to fund a registered nurse (RN) to work with residents to ensure their medical needs are met.
MHA recognized many years ago that individuals with mental illness often were unable to engage with the medical system in the same way as the general population and that they would, therefore, benefit from on-site support at home to meet their medical needs. As a result, MHA has had an RN on staff since 2005. The on-site RN has worked successfully for several years to establish a relationship with MHA’s clients, and to support their understanding of how to care for their medical needs. The RN has served as a liaison with doctors to ensure that the clients follow-up correctly with their medical regime. In addition, the RN provides proactive medical case management, identifying issues of concern and working with clients and their doctors to care for them. The RN helps residents learn how to take their medication properly, educates them about proper hygiene, diet and other health-related issues, and helps reduce the clients’ reliance on emergency services.
It has been well-documented that individuals with mental illness die many years younger than the general population. We hope that with the support of funding from Sequoia Healthcare District and others, we can help change this statistic.
MHA is grateful that Sequoia Healthcare District is continuing to help ensure that vital medical services are available to individuals with mental illness in their homes, where they can benefit from it most. MHA appreciates their commitment and continued support! The funding from Sequoia Healthcare District will improve the quality, and hopefully the length, of the lives of people in our community who have mental illness.
On National Rebuilding Day, Saturday, April 24, 60 volunteers gathered at MHA's Young Adult Independent Living (YAIL) site to paint and to build a new back fence! Rebuilding Together Peninsula selected MHA to receive these services and paired MHA with FusionOne, who sponsored the project. FusionOne paid for all of the repairs, provided food for the workers, and brought many people to volunteer on National Rebuilding Day. GR8TWORK Builders, Inc., coordinated the project and brought in many skilled volunteers! All of the apartments and the garage door were painted, and there's a beautiful new fence at the back of the lot!
Many thanks to Rebuilding Together Peninsula, FusionOne, GR8TWORK Builders, and all of the volunteers who made this possible!
The Mental Health Association of San Mateo County provides much-needed services to individuals with mental illness and/or HIV/AIDS thanks to the support of Federal, County, City, foundation, and individual contributions. Grantors include San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, San Mateo County STD/HIV Program, the San Mateo County Department of Housing, the City of Redwood City, the City of Daly City, the City of San Mateo, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Hurlbut-Johnson Fund (an Advised Fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation), Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition, Wells-Fargo Foundation, Sequoia Healthcare District, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Breathe California, and more.
The Mental Health Association receives a variety of grants, including unrestricted operating grants, HUD Grants to help operate a transitional housing program and a case management support services program for transition age youth, Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP) grants to help operate Spring Street Shelter, Safety Net Grants, Ryan White and HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS) grants for people with HIV/AIDS, and grants to fund nursing services to individuals in their homes. The funding we have received has helped keep MHA operational since it was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1958.
In January 2010, MHA received a grant of $25,000 from Hurlbut-Johnson Fund, an Advised Fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Hurlbut-Johnson Fund has contributed to the Mental Health Association since 2006, with a grant of $30,000, and has contributed $25,000 per year in 2006, 2007, and 2010. The funds have been for unrestricted operating expenses, special projects and building improvements. This year's grant will provide much-needed support for the agency's programs, including Spring Street Shelter, Spring Street Transitional Housing, and Case Management Services to support formerly homeless, mentally ill adults in the community. These unrestricted funds are especially welcomed to help support overall operations. We are most grateful to the trustees of the Hurlbut-Johnson Fund for their interest in our agency and our programs and their generous support of MHA over the years!
Silicon Valley Community Foundation and County of San Mateo Safety Net Grant
Mental Health Association of San Mateo County was one of 32 organizations that received safety net grants from Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and The County of San Mateo (CSM) for the 2009-2010 fiscal year (July 2009-June 2010). MHA is using the grants to support the general operations of Spring Street Shelter, the only emergency shelter in San Mateo County specifically designed to serve homeless adults with mental illness. The funding has allowed MHA to provide more case management services to residents which resulted in shorter stays and more positive, long-term outcomes for residents. This has made a significant difference in the lives of those we serve. We extend our thanks and appreciation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and County of San Mateo for their unique and critical collaboration during these difficult economic times.
Mills-Peninsula Health Services
We are pleased to announce that Mills-Peninsula Health Services has awarded $10,000 to MHA to provide continuing support for our Wellness Program. Since January 2009, funding from Mills-Peninsula Health Services has helped us to provide a public health nurse to work with the residents of the St. Matthew Hotel in San Mateo. The residents of the St. Matthew Hotel are all low-income (most very low income), with a significant percentage of elderly, frail elderly and/or disabled individuals. Susan Miller, RN, has been providing services at the St. Matthew Hotel since 2006. Her work there has been invaluable in ensuring that residents are receiving the medical care they need and following medical regimens as prescribed. In addition, because Susan sees the residents in their home settings, she is able to give valuable information to the residents' doctors that they otherwise wouldn't have available to help treat the residents. We are deeply appreciative of the continued support and interest Mills-Peninsula Health Services staff and volunteers have shown for our clients and this program!
Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP)
The Mental Health Association of San Mateo County has received an award of $35,000 from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program to support operations at Spring Street Shelter. EFSP has provided support for Spring Street Shelter for many years and we are grateful to all of the volunteers and staff working with this program for the continued support we receive from EFSP. It has truly allowed us to keep the doors open, the lights on, and food on the table for the thousands of clients we have seen over the years.
Sequoia Healthcare District
Sequoia Healthcare District awarded MHA a grant to provide medical case management and education at Belmont Apartments, a 25-unit apartment building that is home to adults with mental illness. The Sequoia Healthcare District provides funding for a registered nurse (RN) to work with individual residents on medical case management, medication management, and other health issues to help improve the residents' quality of life and help them maintain their housing. The need for this help has been increasingly recognized and critical due to the fact that Belmont Apartments residents fit the profile of individuals in our community who are most likely to suffer from the existing health care disparity concerns.
The nurse assists residents with learning how to take their medication properly, helping them follow prescribed healthcare regimens, and educating them about proper hygiene, diet, and other health-related issues. It has been well documented that individuals with mental illness live years less than the general population. We hope that with the support of an on-site nurse we can help change this statistic.
Some Sequoia Healthcare District success stories:
The RN has been working over the past six months with "Stacie" who has been having difficulty with medication compliance. "Stacie" receives her medication in bubble packs with the daily doses labeled. The RN meets with "Stacie" weekly and together they discuss her ability to take her meds as ordered and have come up with a labeling strategy. "Stacie" has gradually improved her compliance and, as a direct result, her symptoms have decreased and she is functioning more fully in the community. "Stacie" has expressed her appreciation for the RN's work and follow-up. She is using the information to take her medication correctly, and her pride in now being able to master this task is obvious.
"Francis" has recently undergone a gastric bypass operation in an effort to address her diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic pain. The RN has monitored her health status closely since the operation. "Francis" has successfully been able to bring her weight down and she feels better overall. However, "Francis" was still smoking. The RN's ongoing relationship with "Francis" enabled her to encourage "Francis" to stop smoking. The RN is trained in providing the Ash Kickers Smoking Cessation program through Breathe California and has held groups at Belmont Apartments. "Francis," consequently, has successfully stopped smoking. "Francis" is now much more engaged and has the energy to be more involved in Community Activities, which in turn supports her mental and physical health.
We are grateful for the support from Sequoia Healthcare District that enables us to help keep the residents healthy!
The San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities
Presents: 2009 Art Showcase
*Seventh Annual Art Showcase*
Featuring Works by Local Artists with Disabilities
Exhibit dates: October 1st – October 26th
Hillsdale Shopping Center
(Hillsdale Blvd. & El Camino Real, San Mateo)
Former Mervyn's Space- Inside Lower and Upper Levels
(Generously donated by the Bohannon Development Company)
*Artists' Reception & Silent Auction*
Monday, October 26, 2009
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
San Mateo City Hall Atrium
(330 W. 20th Avenue, San Mateo)
Tickets are $10 in advance: $12 at the door
Meet the artists and enjoy the exhibit and refreshments!
For Information: email@example.com
(650) 573-2580 (voice) or 711 CA Relay
Co-Sponsored by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
And the Commission on Disabilities
By Helen Coneff
By Billy Wallace
By Brenda Martinez
By Helen Coneff
By Carlyle McLean
Creating Innovative, Cost-Effective Programs
for People with Mental Illness and/or HIV/AIDS
The Mental Health Association of San Mateo County is a leader in creating innovative, cost-effective programs to best meet the needs of individuals with mental illness in the community. This month's spotlight:
Wellness Program (since 2005)
In 2005, MHA received funding from the California Wellness Foundation to help the agency deal with the complex and varied medical needs of residents at the then-newly opened Belmont Apartments, a 25-unit apartment building for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. MHA also requested funding for medical support at St. Matthew Hotel, home to 56 individuals with mental illness, physical disabilities and/or co-occurring disorders, the elderly and frail elderly, all of whom have low- to extremely low-income. MHA has been providing the on-site support for residents of St. Matthew Hotel since 1998. MHA has learned over the years that individuals with serious and persistent mental illness often have difficulty obtaining the medical care they need. This population is often distrustful of the medical community and may be unable to follow-through on medical treatment.
The California Wellness Foundation Grant enabled vulnerable, low-income adults with severe and persistent mental illness to receive much-needed medical case management and health outreach that improved their health and lifestyle over a three-year period.
In 2009, MHA received a one-year grant from Mills Peninsula Health Services, which enables MHA to continue providing on-site medical case management and care to residents of the St. Matthew Hotel from 2009-2010.
Also in 2009, MHA received a one-year grant from Sequoia Healthcare District to continue our Wellness program at Belmont Apartments during 2009-2010.
On Saturday, May 30, 2009, MHA's team, "Strive to Thrive," made up of MHA staff members, clients and supporters will participate in the NAMI Walk San Francisco Bay Area. The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved, and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest education, support and advocacy organization that serves the needs of all those whose lives are touched by these illnesses. This includes persons with mental illness, their families, friends, employers, the law enforcement community and policy makers. The NAMI organization is composed of approximately 1100 local affiliates, 50 state offices and a national office.
NAMI is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to is tax deductible. To donate, please visit www.namiwalksfbay.org, select "For a list of teams" and scroll down to the "Ss" to locate the Strive to Thrive team. Select any member on the team to make a donation.
Thank you for supporting the efforts on behalf of those affected by mental illness!
Grant from the Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation for LEP
MHA was privileged to receive a grant from the Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation in 2007 for the Lifestyle Enrichment Program (LEP). The purpose of the program was to help mental health clients foster the formation of relationships, develop a sense of purpose and create a life well-lived. For the 18 month duration of the grant, MHA staff worked with our clients to best use the funds to reach these goals. There are far too many great things MHA was able to accomplish with this grant and too many clients benefitted to mention them all here. Here are a few highlights:
- 16 clients obtained gym memberships from local health clubs. Many of our clients use exercise as a means to relieve stress and depressive symptoms and others enjoyed the socialization opportunities a membership to a gym presents.
- Camp Jones Gulch was the destination for two camping trips. Clients and staff were able to interact in ways beyond the typical working relationship as well as enjoy the outdoors, engage in many activities including, canoeing, archery, nature hikes and a climbing tower, and get away from many of the stresses and difficulties of life.
- With the help of the MHA Occupational Therapist and OT graduate students, some clients participated in a Photo Voice project. Clients were given digital cameras and the opportunity to use photography as an outlet for expressing themselves. Those in the project met regularly and formed relationships they might otherwise not have made some of the results of this project are on display at Belmont Apartments.
- Some clients were able to benefit from classes with an Art Therapist who uses water colors and beginning art techniques to not only allow clients to express themselves artistically, but as a therapeutic tool.
- MHA has held Picnics in the Park during the warmer months, allowing clients to come out to one of the beautiful parks in the community, have a meal, socialize with others, and play volleyball, Frisbee or just enjoy the fresh air.
- MHA obtained movie tickets, café cards, and different public transportation passes for use throughout the year to get more isolated clients out in the community and give opportunities for an increase in socialization and enjoyment.
- Throughout the year, MHA clients and staff members took trips to the circus, Great America Amusement Park, The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, San Francisco Giants games, museums, the rodeo, various plays and musical performances, and organized different outings to bowling alleys and billiards halls.
We would like to give great thanks to the Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation for the generous grant which went a long way in improving the lives of our clients. We would also like to recognize and thank the staff, board members and volunteers who participated in LEP activities this year.
REBUILDING TOGETHER PENINSULA & TYCO ELECTRONICS RENOVATE VILLA TERRACE
On National Rebuilding Day, Saturday, April 26, Rebuilding Together Peninsula and volunteers from Tyco Electronics provided extensive renovations and upgrades to MHA's Villa Terrace Permanent Housing site in San Mateo. Rebuilding Together Peninsula (RTP) is a nonprofit organization that builds volunteer partnerships to rehabilitate homes and community facilities for low-income homeowners and neighbors - seniors, disabled, or families - so they can live independently in warmth and safety. For this project, Tyco Electronics led a team of volunteers in beautifying the backyard, replacing linoleum, painting the common areas, and doing other much-needed work on this almost 100 year-old house which is home to five residents. We are delighted to have been selected to receive this work. RTP and Tyco Electronics were extremely generous and did even more than we anticipated would be possible! To see photos of how great the building and yard now look see our photo gallery.
More volunteers are always welcome. If you would like to help out, please contact Bonnie Glass at (650) 368-3345 ext. 137 or by email at BonnieG@mhasmc.org.
Visit their website: RebuildingTogetherPeninsula.org
NATIONAL REBUILDING DAY
SATURDAY, APRIL 26
CONTACT BONNIE GLASS
(650) 368-3345 EXT. 137
Helen Stewart Receives the 2007 People Who Care Award for Volunteers!
Helen Stewart, a volunteer for the Mental Health Association's Friendship Centers for more than 30 years, received the Volunteer Award at the 2007 People Who Care Awards Dinner on Friday, October 5, 2007. The People Who Care Awards, given by The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the Commission on Disabilities, recognize individuals and organizations demonstrating outstanding initiative and dedication to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities in San Mateo County.
Helen Stewart is a devoted volunteer, preparing morning snacks and hot lunches, playing games, and talking with Friendship Center members weekly. Helen shares her love of games with Friendship Center members and staff by bringing in new games and teaching people to play them. Helen has never missed a field trip and is always the first to arrive and last to leave at all Friendship Center parties and picnics.
Helen's hard work, warm smile, sense of humor, compassion and dedication make her an ideal recipient of this award. Helen was nominated for this honor by a number of individuals who attend the Friendship Center, which makes the award even more significant.
Lifestyle Enrichment Program: Clients Go Camping!
To view more photos of this event Click Here.
Thanks to a grant from the Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation, on September 21-23 four MHA staff members and 12 clients went camping at YMCA's Camp Jones Gulch in La Honda. The group enjoyed the Santa Cruz Mountains, archery, a climbing wall, canoeing, hiking, ping pong, and stories around a campfire that filled the weekend with fun and laughter. Carlyle from Redwood City said, "I got to meet new people. They were friendly, fun, and supportive." Ours was a diverse group with different levels of physical ability, but everyone was able to participate at their own level and at their own pace. "I never expected to have that much fun. I enjoyed every second I was there!" said Carmen from Belmont Apartments.
Staff members gathered up folks from all over the MHA community-Belmont, San Mateo, and Redwood City-and headed up the mountain, stopping at Alice's Restaurant in Woodside for a last dinner in civilization. The winding road took the group up to their cabins in Ohlone Village where they spent their first night.
After a good night's rest and a hearty breakfast, the group headed to the archery range for a quick tutelage on safety and some serious target practice. The activity hit its target even if a few arrows went astray.
From there they tackled the climbing wall. Jack from Belmont, Carlyle from Redwood City and MHA's case manager Deanna were able to make it all the way to the top and ring the victory bell while they were cheered on from the ground.
Next was a hike guided by the camp host who pointed out local flora and fauna, told the history of the camp and its former Native American inhabitants, and led them through a beautiful Redwood forest into an amazing Buckeye grove.
A group of brave souls hiked to the canoeing pond later in the afternoon for the final rigorous activity of the weekend. While several people looked on, Ligaya from Redwood City, and Raquel and Debé from Belmont joined Deanna, Shane, and Tina in canoes. Everyone stayed afloat, avoided the dangerous salamanders and water turtles, and had a great time doing it.
The day ended with a campfire, camping stories and games, and the campfire tradition of making s'mores in all their gooey goodness. The only bad part was that the trip had to end on Sunday. But everyone enjoyed themselves, got recharged, made new friends, and many did things they had never done before. "Let's do it again soon," said Debé. "The counselors were great; they really let their hair down."
Thank you Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation!!
Supporter Profile: Teresa Walker
It was thirty years ago this June that one of my sons had his first psychiatric break, right after he had graduated from high school. That event changed my life and that of our family. For a few years we didn't think he or our family would survive this catastrophe. He was in and out of every psychiatric ward in the County, like a revolving door. Then our medical insurance dropped him from coverage because "they didn't cover psychiatric illnesses." After that we went to the County Mental Health Department. But that wasn't much better. Every program MH ran had rules and regulations that the patient had to follow. If they broke the rules (because they were too mentally ill) they were out. So Steve was kicked out of every program he went into. Besides, he didn't want to have any part of the County Mental Health System.
I had to quit my job to become a full time advocate and case manager for my son. I tried to learn everything I could about psychiatric illnesses and their treatment. Most of what I learned didn't make much sense. I found and joined the San Mateo NAMI (then known as Parents of Adult Schizophrenics or PAS). At the PAS meetings, I would hear very disheartening and appalling stories from parents whose family member had not received the treatment they needed. One day, I noticed in the local paper a list of jobs that the Volunteer Bureau had for people who wanted to volunteer to help out in the community. One of the listing was for volunteers for the Mental Health Association's Friendship Centers. I went to the Volunteer Bureau office to be interviewed by a young man on their staff. After reviewing my resume, he said something to the effect that he didn't think I would want to work with "those people". It would be too depressing. He offered to set me up in a teen social program. I told him no, that I wanted to volunteer with MHA (I didn't tell him that my son was one of "those people").
After that I had an appointment with the Director of the Friendship Center. Her name was Melissa Platte. She was a young woman who had just graduated from college with a master's degree. She told me that MHA had started the daily Friendship Centers, meeting in local churches, because many of their clients lived in board and care homes. They were expected to leave the homes in the morning and not return until late afternoon. They had no place to go. They were very ill and the medicine they took had bad side effects. For the first time I met someone who showed compassion and understanding of people with mental illness. Even better, when I started working at the Friendship Center in Belmont, I met more people who treated the members with respect and "friendship". Ever since then I have been a fan and supporter of the Mental Health Association of San Mateo County.
Evelyn Stanton and Melissa, over the years, have always been supporters and providers for the most seriously mentally ill people in the community. Over all, I believe that services for people with serious mental illnesses are much better now than they were when my son first became ill. And the MHA has been in the forefront of providing them. They started the Spring Street Shelter and numerous living facilities because they saw a need. Most importantly, they listen to the clients and their families and learn from them. They have truly been friends of people with serious mental illness.