More than 100 people came out on Friday for Jawonio Tech's open house. They held an open house and tours to introduce its new director and new behavioral health services program, called "Personalized Oriented Recovery Services."
This made Jawonio’s program one of two certified PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) Providers in August, 2011.
It’s a "college-like environment" at Jawonio Tech in New Hempstead and offers classes, a TECH Cafe, art therapy, relaxation room, vocational skills, self esteem building and technology room for people with mental health challenges
Its staff, including new Division Director, Sharon Kuriger, Dr. Joe Zweig, program director, and other professional staff, such as clinical and nursing staff were on hand for tours and meeting and greeting the community.
“Jawonio has great programs already. This brings in the clinical aspects of the behavioral health services,” said Kuriger.
This is Kuriger’s third week as director. Before joining Jawonio, she was with the Ulster County Mental Health Department and the NYS Department of Mental Health.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for this kind of program in the county. For me, the thing that is most exciting is that it’s completely collaborative,” said Zweig. “This is a strength-based program and it comes from the participants up. The participants will come up with three things: the program names, the logo and our mission statement.“
He pointed to a wall of art that he was particularly proud of.
“This is an art therapy project using 3-dimensional textiles to express themselves,” he said.
“Art is good for recovery if you can’t get it out through words, you can get it out on paper,” said Tami Carey, who is on the peer advisory board and is one of the participants in PROS who was leading a tour on Friday.
Other therapies include dialectical behavior therapy DBT, cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT, music and wellness (nutrition) therapy and vocational skills such as job interviewing, preparing for a job, managing time and use of transportation.
On the tours, small groups of people traveled to each room ending with an informational video in the last classroom. In the classrooms are state-of-the-art interactive smartboards.
“We use the smart boards to look up things such as behavioral health sites and job sites,” said Carey. "When we have classes for research and exploration, the facilitators use this to show videos or check out the website they have on the board, by going to the website and showing us how to go through the site."
The program boasts an individualized one-on-one process.
"Everyone has their own advisor," said Carey. "We have the (class) schedules and they have books for us to sign in for the classes that we feel we need and sometimes an advisor ... will say 'this is what I think you could use,' but we don't have to necessarily have to pick that group."
“This program recognizes their needs and how to specifically address them,” said Kuriger. “We have a class-based model.”
They have 180 participants as of today, but are certified for 230 participants. They’ll be offering the PROS program in Westchester in the fall
“I feel that the ‘P’ in Pro stands for personalized because everybody’s different and everybody’s progress is different,” said Zweig.
The program collaborated a lot with the county.
“I am looking forward to collaborating with the county,” said Kuriger.
“The County of Rockland has been very collaborative,” said Diana Hess, Chief Communications Officer. “For example, we have a bus shelter on this property and we asked Rockland to place another bus shelter on the other side of the road.” The County, Department of Transportation staff, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Senator David Carlucci helped with the bus shelter addition.
Hess explained the funding for the PROS program.
“The program is state funded, and they did give us capital money for all the computers, furnishings etc. for start up …The renovation (construction) was paid for by the Jawonio Foundation, and fundraising with the RACE FOR RECOVERY,” said Hess. The Race for Recovery has raised approximately $40,000 over the past two years.
Guests that stopped by Jawonio Tech for tours included:
CEO Nyack David Freed, Executive Director from NAMI FAMILYA, Rena Finkelstein, VCS Administrator Gail Golden; Dr. Mary Barber Rockland Psychiatric, Commissioner, Social Services, Susan Sherwood, County Legislator Ed Day, Georgina Mencher, Career Administrator, RCC, Maria Dowling, CEO Rockland Family Services, Ruth Colon-Wagner, CEO, Mental Health Association, Karen Nolan, Research Scientist, Nathan Kline Institute, Dawn Kitz, Rockland BOCES, Jennifer Clark RC Mental Health Coordinator, Planning; Medical Director, Dr. Isaac Schecter, Clinical Director,/Psychologist Bikur Cholim, Bernadette Richards from Sophies Health Care—Lorraine Greenwell, Rockland Independent Living