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

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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.”

Rockrose Gardens Residents Celebrate Moving Into New Apartments

12-05-14 Ribbon Cutting - Rockrose Gardens Grand OpeningRockrose Gardens is Interim’s newest affordable apartment complex in Marina. The Grand Opening celebration was held December 5 and attended by over 260 supporters. Rockrose received a gold level LEED certification for its environmentally sustainable design. The project took four years to complete.

The residents have shared how grateful they are that Rockrose provides them a place to live and supportive services. This has been expressed through their words and their letters. Rockrose Gardens has created an environment tenants are proud to call home.

Kristen is one of the twenty residents who moved into their one bedroom apartments in November. Regarding Rockrose, she says, “The place is beautiful and safe, and I love how it is so spacious. I feel I can start a new life here and I am devoting time to help Interim by volunteering at OMNI teaching art groups.” OMNI is a free, peer and family member run mental health wellness center.

For another Rockrose resident, Patricia, her only experience with Interim was through Manzanita House, Interim’s short-term crisis program. Prior to moving in to Rockrose, she lived with family and in different boarding homes, unable to find a place she could settle in and feel comfortable. Now Patricia feels she has a place of her own to call home at Rockrose.

Other residents, Kimberly and Steven, were happy to be given the opportunity to apply for the brand new units. Kimberly said being selected to move in was “a dream come true.” Steven says that Interim has “raised the bar for providing a roof and boarding.”

Funding for Rockrose was made possible by HUD 811 (Supportive Housing for People with Disabilities Program), California Mental Health Services Act Housing Program, the County of Monterey, Neighborhood Stabilization Program through the Monterey County Office of Redevelopment and Housing, the City of Marina HOME Program Income Funds (California Housing and Community Development), the Affordable Housing Program, local foundations, and hundreds of private donors.

SAVE THE DATE: Hoedown for Housing

REDBOO_transGet your cowboy boots and spurs ready! The Hoedown for Housing will be held on October 17, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.

If you are interested in sponsorship, attending, volunteering, or donating auction items, please call us at 831-645-4522 x301.