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“Disabilities advocates file lawsuit”

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This article dated March 15, 2010 and found on the Philly.com website, talks about a lawsuit recently filed by disability advocates in response to the block grants and 20% funding cut to mental health and intellectual disability services.

“Mental Health/Mental Retardation Advisory Board honors staff members”

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This brief article dated February 10, 2012, and found on The Times Leader website is one that recognizes some members of the Luzerne county and Wyoming county Mental Health /Mental Retardation staff for their years of service.

I would like to not only congratulate those who received the awards in this article, but I would also like to take a moment to thank the countless others who dedicate their time and energy to helping people in both the mental health and intellectual disability communities.  I’m including everyone from janitorial up to the CEO and everyone in between.  I know case managers often are on the front lines so to speak, and often times are overwhelmed by huge caseload, yet they often do their jobs, offering encouragement, hope, support, and guidance to their clients without much in the way of a thank you for all they do.

A now former case manager of mine went above and beyond to help me with a situation.  She made a huge effort to try to help me with a court related issue that the timing was such that I had actually been discharged about a week prior to the court hearing.  She could have easily said, ‘sorry you’re not on my caseload so you’re on your own’  instead, she made phone calls, and advocated on my behalf during the week after my discharge.

Another time, I was having a really bad day, and the receptionist who is someone who has worked in the local mental health system for many years and had worked in group homes before becoming a receptionist.  Saw I was pretty much on the verge of having a melt down, and she came from behind her desk to the half-door I was signing in at and she gently touched my arm and asked if there was anyone she could call to help me out.  That simple act of kindness and gentle physical contact was a huge thing for me in terms of helping me through that particular situation.

These are just two examples of situations I have come across myself, and I could list off more, if I wanted to.  These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, there are countless others who do this sort of thing every day and receive no thanks for their efforts.  If you know someone who works in the mental health field whether they be a Receptionist, Peer Specialist, Therapist, Counselor, Case Manager, Supervisor, Psychiatrist, Nurse, Janitor or maintenance staff, IT professionals, and even those who volunteer their time to help folks with mental illnesses, let them know their work is important and that without them, people like me wouldn’t have a remote chance at any degree of recovery.

A huge thank you to everyone who works directly or indirectly to improve the lives of folks who struggle with mental health issues and/or intellectual disabilities, not only here in Pennsylvania, but around the world.

“Mary Young: Musings on agency’s new name”

 

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Image via Wikipedia

Article Link

This article found on readingeagle.com, and dated January 21, 2012 offers one person’s view about the recent change in name of the Berks County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities agency which was formerly known as Berks County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Services.

**Please note that my posting an article doesn’t necessarily mean I agree or disagree with the contents of it, but simply that as in this case, I found the view interesting on some level.**

“Proposed name shift would battle stigma”

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Image via Wikipedia

Article Link

This article found at LancasterOnline dated July 13, 2011 discusses legislation being proposed to change the term “Mentally Retarded” to “Intellectually Disabled” and also the proposed change at the Lancaster County MH/MR/Early Intervention agency.

“Some Pennsylvania lawmakers urge banning term ‘mental retardation’ from state laws, websites”

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/03/some_pennsylvania_lawmakers_ur.html

The above link discuses efforts being made by some Pennsylvania Lawmakers to have the term “mental retardation” removed from state laws and websites.  The article was found on the Pennlive.com website on March 2, 2011

“Neighbors upset with plans for group home”

This article was found in the Warren Times-Observer, January 15, 2009 edition and can be viewed in it’s original format at … http://www.timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/511413.html?nav=5006

I’ve been following other similar issues in other parts of Pennsylvania, but this time it’s more personal … it’s in my own backyard.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen in my area, in fact I live in a building that was built specifically for the purpose of housing mentally and physically disabled people.  The battle over whether or not it should be built was fierce and since the building was built and first occupied ( I was among the first 8 people to move in here) I moved in and during the first week I lived here, I watched a neighbor put up privacy type fencing that encompassed his entire backyard … by the end of the following summer he had also put up a picket fence to surround the front half of his yard.  Somewhere between the building of the fences, I was out walking around the neighborhood and saw him out in his front yard.  I simply waved and said “hI, nice day isn’t it”.  The response I got was, “who the hell are you?”  I haven’t spoken to this neighbor since.  I figure he was among those who were adament about my building not being built.  on the other side of the property there is an elderly couple and I’ve said hello to them and at one point spoke to them about some garbage that ended up on their property.  a friend of mine and I picked it up and the lady said she “never had a problem with us and that we made really good neighbors.”  At any rate, I’ve seen first hand the different views people have when it comes to the possibility of Mental Health Consumers moving into their neighborhood.  I wonder if Mike Wallace bought the property I live on and decided to build a home for himself if the neighbors would have complained?  Mike Wallace has been very vocal about his personal struggles with Depression which IS a mental illness for those who would like to argue it is different.  The only difference between me struggling with my mental illness and Mike Wallace struggling with Depression is that Mike Wallace’s wallet holds more money then mine does and he’s been in the public eye for a long time.  I’m guessing nobody would bat an eye if he moved in next door to them and that if anything, people would do everything they could to introduce themselves to him and be “good neighbors” because of the status symbol type mentality that would be associated with Make Wallace living in your neighborhood.

I am publicly stating at this time that I am in full support of the grouphome being built in Russell, PA and will be following this story closely. I will also do what I can to attend public meetings if there are any I’m able to get to. I don’t currently have a vehicle, so it might not be possible for me to get to them.  The folks they are proposing to move into this facility deserve to live in the community the same as the ignorant people who are trying to prevent them from moving into their neighborhood.

Neighbors upset with plans for group home

Say structureviolates zoning

By STEPHANIE HAMM shamm@timesobserver.com

POSTED: January 15, 2009

Some neighboring Russell residents are angry over the proposed community home being built on Pine Grove Boulevard by Lakeshore Community Services, Inc.

During a public meeting at Russell Fire Hall, they contended that the proposed home is contrary to Pine Grove Township’s zoning ordinance.

“We bought that piece of property because it was a really nice piece of property,” said Richard Ruedy, chief executive officer with Lakeshore Community Services, Inc. of Erie. “What we try to do is to find a good place for folks to live and have a nice home for them to live in.”

Lakeshore Community Services, Inc. was established in 1986 to provide residential care for persons with mental retardation. The agency has since expanded its efforts to include support for persons with serious and persistent mental illness. The agency currently has 30 facilities throughout Erie, Warren, Cameron, Elk, McKean, Clearfield and Jefferson counties.

Two mentally challenged adults will reside in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home at 7 Pine Grove Blvd. in Russell.

Currently, the two individuals who will be moving into the community home are living alone, and “to bring a couple folks in made a whole lot more sense than to have them out there by themselves,” said Ruedy.

According to Ruedy, the individuals will be monitored during all hours of the day, seven days a week. There will be two staff members present during the day, one for each resident, and one staff member will be present during the overnight hours.

Residents in close proximity to the community home lot are not pleased.

“Our problem is, we live in an R1 neighborhood, which says single family dwellings, and we have a group trying to build a duplex in our neighborhood, which is not allowable in our neighborhood,” said Bob Bablak, who lives at 14 Pine Grove Blvd., kitty corner to where the lot is.

An R1 district is classified as “single family residential,” said Gary Snook, zoning officer for Warren County.

However, from a structural standpoint, the home is not a duplex, he said.

“In order to have a duplex, both dwelling units have to be separated,” said Snook. “These are not.”

“The one on the right hand side of the house has to go through the left hand portion of the house to get to the other side,” explained Snook, referring to how the residents would enter the home from the garage.

The building permit has been issued and the zoning permit has been issued, but the zoning permit has since been appealed, said Snook.

According to Snook, all that can currently be done on the lot it site work.

The process will be on hold until the Warren County Zoning Hearing Board meets to discuss the matter. No date has been set for that meeting.

Ruedy is optimistic that the community home will be up and running sooner rather than later.

“We would hope to have it completed in the next few months,” he said.

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