Uplifting

WestCare California Alumni Lead by Example

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Robert and Gregory
Gregory A. and Robert E.

“Despite a very hard life that at times was spent in the streets, on and off drugs and in and out of jail and after many tries and against all odds, Robert E and Gregory A participated in and completed the residential treatment program at WestCare California’s MLK Residential facility.

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In the face of temptation, these men were able to practice the tools that they learned in the program to overcome past relapse triggers. They have since become Alumni and return to support the current clients at the facility. Robert and Gregory spoke in front of the men as a testimony of how they have overcome their active addiction. They also encouraged the men to stay strong, work the program, go to meetings, get a sponsor and not to go back to their old lifestyles.

For their efforts, I awarded these two men with ‘Thank you for Uplifting the Human Spirit’ tokens.” – Celestino Rayos, Coordinator, Men’s Residential Treatment 

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“Why I Volunteer” by Danny R.

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“My name is Danny R. I am a resident of WestCare MLK. I have volunteered for Project Liftoff, WINGS Fresno, Robert Golden’s ‘Believe and Achieve’ Football Clinic sponsored by KYJO, the 2016 North American Pole Vaulting Association (NAPVA) Championship and most recently, I volunteered my time for a no kill animal rescue center.

I have been assisting at this facility for four weeks and all that I can say is how happy and grateful I am to be given the chance by WestCare and the remarkable people at this rescue center, whom have given me an opportunity to help and heal not only these animals, but myself. You see, I know the feeling of being locked away in a cage. I know the feeling of being lonely, scared, away from my loved ones and many times without hope. 36 years of experience. 36 years of not seeing a sunrise; being without my family and not being able to touch and play with a dog or a cat. The volunteer work at this rescue center was only a dream I had often dreamed about. Now, I get up early every morning to watch and enjoy that sunrise, I am in touch with my family every day and I get the gift of petting , playing with and taking care of these dogs and cats. Why do I do it? As a former Marine, I’m familiar with hard work, dedication, determination and the courage to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves (In this case, the rescued dogs and cats).
There is a lot to be done here at the no kill rescue center. I know what it’s like to be caged up, to feel unwanted, unloved and only hoping that someone would give me a second chance; so it’s gratifying to me to help these animals and to be able to give back to society, whom I’ve taken so much from. It is hard having to live with the knowledge that in one moment in time, my careless behavior affected so many people in a negative and ugly way. It is hard having to live with the knowledge that I could never undo the terrible act I committed. I live each day knowing that I have a debt that I can’t ever repay in this lifetime. I humbly apologize to every person I hurt with my destructive behavior…..I humbly apologize to society for the negative impact I placed into their lives with my senseless act.

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There is a small staff at the rescue center and all volunteer work is appreciated. I guess you can say it’s been a long time since I’ve been appreciated for my kindness, gentleness and my willingness to give to others in need. However, today and everyday that I volunteer at this dog and cat rescue center, I feel appreciation by the animals and other volunteer members.

My scars – my loneliness heals with everyday that I volunteer and I can only pray that the love and compassion that I bring to these animals will heal their pain and loneliness.”

JUST ONE FRIEND

If life gives only one true friend

One who is faithful to the end,

Then life has given more than gold

The greatest joy a heart can hold.

If just one friend is sure to share

To understand, believe and care,

Then life is sweet, complete and true,

to have just one friend like you.

ADOPT A PET, THEY BECOME A TRUE FRIEND…..

– Danny R.

Mental Health Matters in My Family

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I’ve never known a time when mental illness wasn’t a part of my family’s medical history or among our personal challenges. Three generations of my family have experienced mental health disorders including bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and clinical depression. My grandmother experienced what we now would recognize as early onset of her bipolar disorder at the same time she gave birth to her first child, my mother, in 1941. She suffered greatly as a result of the denial, aversion and derision she was subjected to by her own siblings and various family members after the onset of what was then called manic depression. My grandmother eventually became a single parent to 5 children after being abandoned by my grandfather. He refused to deal with a wife experiencing mental illness in a very profound way. The stigma surrounding mental illness was more than he was able or willing to live with. My grandmother was hospitalized several times during an era in which psychiatric conditions and care was obviously less advanced than it is today. It troubles me to know that my grandmother, who was among the people in my life that I cherished more than any other, suffered more than was needed as a result of the stigma surrounding her mental illness and particularly as a result of the lack of awareness on the part of those she loved.  The fact that she had to overcome stigma from her own family, people who in every other way I also cherish is difficult to resolve in my heart and in my minds-eye. I witnessed the survivor my grandmother was as she lived a very long life filled with many more challenges. She lived, she loved and she and her children flourished.

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Fortunately, in my lifetime the stigma often attached to mental illness has been greatly reduced. I never felt a stigma resulting from my own depression or anxiety disorders though certainly I can relate to other stigmas. My younger brother experienced extreme psychosis and a hospitalization in 1992 as a result of an early adult onset and diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 1992. He was 23 in the midst of completing his master’s degree. Certainly he faced upset and challenges, but he was fortunate to not have to deal with many barriers resulting from stigma. He had extremely supportive friends and family, received excellent care and he is amazingly resilient. He is successful in his desired profession and relationships. I, too, am successful in managing anxiety and depression and recognize that mental health, like addiction and being overweight are simply a part of the many things in my life that further shape who I am and that require attention and self-care. There is no shame in my game and I don’t let mental health disorders define me.

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Self-awareness and self-care occur when we are able to remove stigma from our lives. Still, words have so much power and a lack of understanding from those around us can have such long-lasting effects.  Internalizing negative messages from others negatively impacts those who may yet flourish and do so more quickly if they were not encountering unnecessary barriers. As someone currently working with mental health consumers and their families, I see others as they experience mental illness. I’m extremely proud to assist them in their stabilization and recovery process and to be afforded that opportunity through an agency that strives to uplift the human spirit in everything they do. As we recognize Mental Health Matters Month, perhaps the greatest thing we can do is to work to reduce stigma and increase awareness of both mental illness and mental health. Are you aware that numerous published studies report that 25% of all U.S. adults have a mental illness and that 50% of us will experience at least one mental illness in our lifetimes? Such numbers require of us that we embrace and support our community, empower by encouraging self-acceptance and greater self-care. We can confront and rebuke stigma. We still have a very long way to go in advancing greater gains in the mental health movement. We can start by taking a simple pledge to reduce stigma in ourselves, our families and within our community.

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– submitted by Mark Leanhart 
2409a891180b9bb4d77398336e9b3761.pngFor over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.

WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents, and families.

Strides to Success: Eduardo R.

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Eduardo R.

“Eduardo R. came to WestCare Bakersfield in June of 2015 after serving many years in prison of a life term. He worked very hard while incarcerated to earn his release by the Board of Prison Terms. While in the program, he was a role model, always positive even when he didn’t feel like it and just as he did in prison, he worked hard to meet the program requirements, often going above and beyond by helping younger residents.” –  Melodie Everest, Community Service Specialist, STOP Area 3

How has your life changed from before you entered treatment to after you finished treatment? “My life has changed for the better in many ways. Compared to my past unconcerned, unappreciative and inconsiderate attitude, I now appreciate everything in life and I do not allow my negative feelings to dictate the course of my day. I am no longer their slave. I now smile more, greet and treat people with kindness, consideration, empathy and compassion.”

What advice can you give to anyone in the early stages of their recovery? “In the early stages of recovery, you will encounter many personal obstacles. You will have to do and say things you will have trouble doing or saying. You will also hear things you may find unpleasant, but instead of getting upset, utilize these words to your benefit to learn and grow. Allow God into your life and grow spiritually. An extensive self-analysis is extremely important. I recommend the 12-steps of AA/NA. All 12-steps are important, but for me, Step 4 is of great importance in the search for sobriety, stability, kindness, forgiveness and respect for others, a love for life and love in general.” – Eduardo R.

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For over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.

WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents, and families.

A letter of thanks to our troops!

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The Men from our Residential Treatment Facility – WestCare California MLK, wrote letters of gratitude to the service members overseas. Our SSVF Outreach Specialist, Raymond Gonzales of San Joaquin Valley Veterans will be sending them off to Operation Gratitude. A special thank you goes out to our M2M (Men to Men) Counselor, Vincent Monk of WestCare MLK for helping the residents with this project!

From all of us here at the WestCare family to all of you wonderful men and women who are a part of our great Armed Forces, God bless you and your families and Happy Holidays.

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wc-branding_CAFor over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.

WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents, and families.

Our reasons to be “Thankful”

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Our staff, our clients, our supporters, our collaborative partners and our friends! We are Thankful for all of you!  We will never take for granted all of the love, support and memories you have given us over the years and the lessons that you teach us everyday. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and please enjoy these stories from three of our WestCare family programs! 

 

11/20 –  Holiday Luncheon at Turtle Lodge

WestCare staff Jeff Estes and Annette Ortega took five clients to celebrate their Native American heritage at a holiday luncheon hosted by Turtle Lodge. There was drumming, good food, old and new friends and plenty of fun to be had that day. Andrea N. got down and dirty during the cherry pie eating contest even though she did not finish her pie first, she gave it a valiant effort. All WestCare clients and staff who attended took a new unwrapped toy to donate to the Toys 4 Tots drive being held there. It was great time for both the clients and the staff.

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11/24 – The Living Room Thanks Volunteers and Donors with a Thanksgiving Luncheon and Gives Back

Staff at the Living Room held a Thanksgiving luncheon to say thanks to their volunteers from MAC Cosmetics who have given their time at The Living Room and to donors and community partners from the Imperial Dove Court who have shown their support throughout the years. After the meal, the remaining food was served to over 60 homeless individuals on Belmont Avenue!

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 11/24 – SJVV Fresno Thanks Their Veterans with a Thanksgiving Luncheon

Staff at SJVV Fresno took the time out of their day to prepare a meal for the veterans that they serve to show just how thankful they are of everything that they have done in their time with the armed services. In all, the staff served over 75 veterans!

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wc-branding_CAFor over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.

WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents, and families.

September 16th – 30th: “Fresno’s HOMERUN”

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Homerun - Regency Property Management Staff with Staff from WestCare California, Poverello House and Turning Point of Central California

Homerun - Park Ave ApartmentsHomerun - Las Villas ApartmentsHomerun - Cedar Tree Apartments“Ending homelessness is not an easy task. It requires more than just wanting to get it done. It requires determination, perseverance, the ability to work tirelessly and sometimes going against seemingly impossible tides. It requires collaboration and commitment.”

During the month of September, such collaboration and commitment of various agencies resulted in a Rapid Rehousing housing push, coined “Fresno HOMERUN”. The idea for this housing push came from Iain De Jong of OrgCode Consulting, as he was in Fresno providing a training to our coordinated entry agencies. Funding for this initiative came from the County of Fresno ($65,000) and needed to be expended by September 30th.  As these funds were to provide short term rental assistance, Fresno decided to focus on individuals identified as needing rapid rehousing intervention through our coordinated entry assessment tool. WestCare California, Poverello House and Turning Point of Central California joined forces and were able to assist in housing a total of 43 people in just two weeks. Services offered included, double deposit, rental assistance for 2 months and PG&E deposits and arrears if needed.  From September 16th to September 30th, these agencies expended a grand total of $54,156.72 that ended homelessness for 23 households, 7 of which were households with children. The lives of 43 people have been changed. They have a new lease on life and a second chance at the American dream. During this housing push, we were also able to establish relationships with 8 new landlords. Regency Property Management made a substantial commitment to our efforts, offering 13 of their vacant units. Las Villas apartments were also very receptive and were able to reserve 3 units for this initiative. The staff of Royal Realty secured 2 units, while Cedar Tree II, Carl McNight, Canyon Park Apartments, and Park Avenue Apartments all committed 1 unit each for the housing push. The success of the housing push would not have been possible if it weren’t for the collaborative efforts of these agencies and property companies. Thank you to everyone that participated in making this housing push a “Homerun!”

 Esther Carnegie – Housing Locator and MaryAnn Calderon – Program Coordinator, WestCare California Housing Services 

wc-branding_CAFor over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.

WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents, and families.