Interim staff and friends raise funds for The Food Bank

food bank montereyWe’re happy to announce that as of today, Interim staff and friends collectively raised $1,018 in the past week to support The Food Bank for Monterey County in wake of their recent fire. We’ll be sending the donations this coming week.

Thanks to those who were able to help out, and to our wonderful community for stepping up to help support the Food Bank.

If you want to help support the Food Bank recover from their fire, you can do so at their website: Donate Now

Help support The Food Bank for Monterey County after recent fire

food bank montereyThe Food Bank for Monterey County recently had a devastating fire, losing several trucks and a refrigeration unit, among other resources. Much of Monterey County, including those in Interim programs and other nonprofits, depend on the Food Bank as a partner agency.

Staff members here at Interim are currently doing a fund drive and we’d like to ask you to consider joining us by donating directly to The Food Bank.

We’re all one community, working together for good.

Donate to The Food Bank for Monterey County

More information about the fire and how you can help

 

Spring 2015 Newsletter

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Our Spring 2015 Newsletter is out! If you have requested, you’ll be getting one in the mail over the next few days. Below is a PDF version to read and share, and each story is also available on our website! Enjoy!

Spring 2015 Newsletter

If you’d like to sign up to receive the newsletter by postal mail or email, click on the “Newsletter” button in the sidebar and sign up today!

Celebrating Interim’s 40th Anniversary!

A Note from the Executive Director, Barbara Mitchell

This year marks Interim’s 40th anniversary. Interim was founded in 1975 by a group of concerned citizens who believed that adults with serious mental illness could make the transition from hospitals to independent living if they had a safe place to live, support services, and assistance in developing basic living skills. During this year, I’ll be looking at some of the agency history and writing about some of the people who helped to make the agency what it is today.

Barbara and Corey
Barbara Mitchell (L) and Corey Miller (R) in 1993.

One of the first employees at Interim and one of my mentors was Corey Miller. Corey was frequently referred to as “the mother of Interim.” She was hired in 1976 and retired in 2001.

Interim first started by operating “halfway houses” which were designed to provide treatment and living skills to people exiting from institutions. But Interim had recognized quickly that having a treatment program wasn’t useful if the clients had no place to live once they graduated. After serving as a volunteer at Interim, Corey was hired to work with Dick Crispo for the new Community Housing Program.

She later became the Program Coordinator, hiring, training, and mentoring a staff that helped to operate a system of satellite houses for people who had completed the halfway house treatment programs.

They also worked with people in the community who they located who had mental illness and who were homeless or who lived in poor conditions. According to Corey, “We got the clients off the streets. We hung around coffee houses and parks and just starting talking to people. Dick and I kept everything in the trunk of our car.”

There were no resources or funding for the program. “We found housing by trying to find sympathetic owners. St. Mary’s Church in Pacific Grove helped to pay for motels and first month’s rent. We rented a lot of houses that were in poor condition.”

Corey didn’t have any formal training in mental health work, but she became an important resource to the agency. She used her knowledge of the community and her good connections to find housing. “I got involved with Interim because of my commitment to social justice. Social justice is a good entry into mental health work. I remember how happy it made me feel to do something that changed someone’s life.”

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Peer Creates Inspiration for Recovery at Bridge House

Antonio is a model of peer led recovery models.
Antonio is a model of peer-led recovery models.

Antonio Garibaldi is the Wellness Activities Specialist at Bridge House and is responsible for leading weekend outings for residents. But more importantly, he’s a former resident of Bridge House who now has a chance to make a big difference.

Antonio entered Bridge House for treatment on November 3, 2009. “Growing up with a mental illness and knowing something was wrong was tough. Coming to a place (like Bridge House) that actually validated me helped me understand why the nine drug programs before didn’t work.”

Antonio’s road from resident to staff at Bridge wasn’t easy. One big obstacle to Antonio being hired on at Bridge was needing to be approved by the Department of Social Services due to his past criminal record. It took over a year and a half to get the approval needed for employment. Antonio had to show he had met all expectations, have letters of reference, and go to court to advocate for himself. “When I read the letters, it was overwhelming to know who I was.”

Fortunately, the judge agreed. He saw not only that that Antonio had done the necessary work, but that Interim clearly believed in him.

Jane Odegard, Bridge House Program Director, says she knew Antonio was different from the start.

“His heart was in it from the very first day I met him. He was truly ready to change his past behavior and to listen,” she says. “It’s exciting to find someone in that particular moment.”

Antonio has helped the Bridge residents to practice their communication skills, while building community, confidence, and helping to connect with sober peers.

According to Mental Health America, “shared similar experiences can help themselves and each other. … [T]he peer-led vision of recovery needs to be the aim of all … friendship and belonging to a community in recovery can work wonders.”

Bridge Outing First NightPart of that community for Bridge residents included participating in First Night Monterey, a sober celebration held on New Year’s Eve.

For one month, Antonio and the residents volunteered to help create art exhibits that included seagulls and sea horse sculptures from metal and recycled plastic. The day of the event, they participated in the twilight procession and enjoyed the venues and activities offered by First Night.

The residents were able to see their hard work and commitment being enjoyed by thousands of people, and had a great time doing it!

As for Antonio, he says, “Right now I’m making a difference and I’m able to pay back what I can. I have support and work with people who have the same desire to be the change they want to see in the world. If I had known six years ago where I would be now, I wouldn’t have believed it.”