Central Clinic Behavioral Health values client feedback. This story, which has been edited for space, is about a man and his therapist and how she changed his life. We hope you enjoy this and our Winter 2019 newsletter.
“I would like to take this opportunity to first apologize for the bad handwriting, that I cannot help. Yet, what I can help is the fact it would be a disservice for me go on with my everyday life without sharing what needs to be shared.
Never would I have dreamt that I would walk into a behavioral health center as one never knows what life serves up from day to day. However, being what it is, I walked those halls and sat in the waiting room with other people just like me – all with a story. Yes, I pay a lot of attention to detail which is probably part of the reason I’m a client in the first place.
My Central Clinic therapist, P.B., goes beyond the call of duty. Even though my time with P.B. has been very short (eight visits), she has already changed my life. When I was invited into her simple office, I could not help but notice a sign staring me in the face – literally – ‘Yes You Can.’ Some of P.B.’s first words were ‘I am going to help you.’ I am a proud man and yet I sat there and cried. It was that moment that I realized that she was not just a therapist, but someone who truly cared about me. Alas, I could go on and on about just how much one person has made a change in my life, but I won’t because there’s not enough time or paper that this world provides.
Yet, there is one incident I want to share. I was recently hospitalized and when I communicated with P.B. that I was not able to keep my appointment and the reason why, she completely understood. Can you imagine my surprise when she knocked on my hospital door and entered my room? Don’t tell me that’s in the job description!! She gives hugs without a physical touch; I am a good reader of people and I know little things go a long way. She makes impromptu phone calls and will say ‘I’m checking on you.’
It’s a known fact that no one person can save the world, but I’ll have you know this one person has saved mine. P.B. is the one person who made me believe that when I see a tomorrow, it is mine to have as I wish.
Life is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to challenge, but today I feel I am one of the hardest thing’s life has to challenge. Thank you to my therapist.” —D.P.
Our agency works to find homes for children in agency care through our website, HCKids.org, as well as social media, and special events.
Another way we help spread the word is through a partnership with Grant Me Hope. Grant Me Hope helps arrange and fund advertising to showcase children. Grant Me Hope shoots videos of our children and has partnered with WCPO Channel 9 to air those videos on a regular basis.
Those videos also end up on the HCKids.org website as part of the child’s profile.
To celebrate Right to Read (April 1-5), Saint John the Baptist School on Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township collected books to donate to HCJFS. The goal is to foster a love of learning. Students were encouraged and provided opportunities to read throughout the week. In the spirit of giving, the children were challenged to donate 1,000 books. Saint John’s students met and exceeded that goal by collecting 1,106 books. The books have been donated to HCJFS.They will be placed in the waiting rooms and visitation rooms at HCJFS and used to create a book “giving” library at our new Millvale site.
Brandy Scott-Herman, a career coach supervisor at OhioMeansJobs, just won a Hamilton County Circle of Excellence award for Outstanding Service.
Here is part of her nomination:
“Brandy Scott-Herman guided and grew a program in 2019 that literally helped thousands of Hamilton County residents to a better place in life.
This is what one resident wrote after Scott-Herman’s Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC) program helped her with car repairs – allowing her to take on more work hours.
“Your program is an answer to my prayers. With the good tires and brakes, I will be able to approach Amazon for the flexible employment for the hours I have available that they have offered. And not have the worry of wrecking the car. I was referred to you by my worker at Easter Seals. I am humbled by your blessings. Thank YOU from my family and myself!!!”
This is just one of thousands helped by the PRC program, which helps Hamilton County residents stay out of the public assistance program (Prevention), obtain or keep a job (Retention) or address a one-time emergency need (Contingency).
Scott-Herman led efforts to help pregnant and new mothers obtain car seats or breast pumps, homeless families secure beds and other furniture when they leave shelter, would-be nurses afford tuition and transportation assistance so they can follow their dreams, struggling families pay rent or utilities so they don’t end up homeless, and, of course, worried employees who need car repairs or other job supports to stay employed or increase their employment opportunities.
Under Scott-Herman’s leadership, the program grew over a two-year period from spending $6,000 per month to help people in difficult situations to spending $93,000 per month. She expanded the number of people being helped, and the amount of money spent, by:
Changing PRC policies to be more inclusive
Adding community referral partners
Increasing the number of staff available to help community residents
Streamlining workflow processes
Leveraging technology to increase efficiency
Scott-Herman led an extraordinary group of staff to guide this program to a new level. They know how important that one-time help can be to a new mother who doesn’t have a car seat to keep her baby safe, a working father worried his family will end up seeking public assistance because his car isn’t reliable enough to make it to work, or a struggling family facing eviction or the loss of heat and electricity. No matter the challenge, Scott-Herman is determined to live the Job and Family Services’ mission of helping them today for a better tomorrow.”
Other winners: Brad Miller, assistant director of Environmental Services, for professional achievement; Mary Sticklen, a business specialist with Environmental Services for Rookie of the Year; Probation Officer Shannon Thompson, County Hero; and for Team Impact – John Nelson, Joy Landry, Michelle Balz, Susan Schumacher and Brad Johnson with the Soil & Water Conservation District.
Kevin Finn, President/CEO, Strategies to End Homelessness
This weekend the movie, The Public, opened in theaters across the country and here in Cincinnati. The movie was filmed and set in Cincinnati. And tells a fictional story of the takeover of the downtown library by a group of homeless men during a brutal stretch of cold weather.
I’ve been working on issues related to homelessness locally for 21 years. So when I learned the movie was going to be made, I was concerned that the way people experiencing homelessness would be portrayed. That it would lead viewers to be less sympathetic, less concerned about the well-being of our homeless neighbors.
I was however encouraged when contacted by Emilio Estevez, the writer and director, for input on how to make this fictional work as realistic as possible. After providing some input, and two years later viewing the final product, I am satisfied with how The Public depicts those experiencing homelessness. And quite frankly I really like the movie, but that does not mean it was entirely accurate in how it represented the issue of homelessness.
Providing shelter in winter for the homeless
First and foremost, I have to point out the difference between the fictional situation portrayed in the movie (in which homeless shelter beds were all full or inaccessible) versus the local reality. In Greater Cincinnati, several organizations practically lift heaven and earth to make sure there are emergency shelter beds available for those who want one when it is bitter cold.
Specifically, Shelterhouse (which we help raise the funds needed to provide WinterShelter.org) the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, and Price of Peace Lutheran Church go to great lengths to make sure there are warm beds available and accessible when temperatures drop.
Who is homeless in Cincinnati?
It is also important to understand that the characters in the movie are most representative of a certain sub-set of people experiencing homelessness, not of all homeless people. In the movie, the homeless people in the library are almost entirely male, and those who take control of a section of the library are all men.
In reality, our total homeless population (in shelter and unsheltered) in Hamilton County is about 40% female and 60% male. Now, when you look closer at only those people sleeping specifically on the streets, the group specifically portrayed in the movie, they are in fact more likely to be men. However, even among that population, about 70% are male and 30% female. Clearly women experiencing homelessness, and the unique challenges they face, are minimally represented in the film.
A word regarding one myth of homelessness that the movie touches upon, and also regarding something that is not well understood about homelessness that The Public does not attempt to address:
A common myth
The common myth is that most homeless people are in fact sleeping on the streets. In reality, 86% of people experiencing homelessness in Hamilton County sleep in a homeless shelter exclusively. Another 7% go back and forth between the streets and shelters, and the remaining 7% sleep exclusively on the streets or in places not meant for human habitation. Nationally, about 34% of homeless people are on the streets.
I mention this to highlight the exceptional work of our emergency shelter operators, who work not just during the winter but year-round to help people off of the streets, where they are more likely to encounter harm. Contrary to what a viewer might assume to be true about Cincinnati from watching the movie, we have fewer people sleeping unsheltered locally than most communities across the country.
A true reality: the number of homeless families and children is on the rise
What is not well understood about homelessness is the number of children, particularly children in families, who are homeless. It is regularly assumed that homeless people are in fact on the streets and that children are not homeless. It might surprise you to learn that in 2017 we had 72% more homeless children in Hamilton County (1,692) than we had people sleeping outside on the streets (979).
In short, a group of homeless people the general public assumes does not exist actually massively outnumber a group the general public assumes make up the majority of the homeless population. Unfortunately the number of homeless families and therefore children is on the rise.
The thing I am most pleasantly surprised by in The Public is the use of humor. I know that I speak for many who have experienced homelessness and those who go to work each day trying to end homelessness, when I say that humor is simply a part of the equation.
If a person can’t find a way to laugh at some of the ridiculous turns of bad luck or random bad circumstances that led to a person becoming homeless, they won’t be able to weather the storm. Or in the case of professionals working in the field, won’t be able to keep working on this issue for long.
Sometimes you have to be able to laugh at a situation before you can get to work changing it. And I thought The Public captured that reality very accurately.
I’m very encouraged by the attention the movie is bringing to the issue of homelessness, particularly in Cincinnati. And for that we are very grateful to everyone involved in making the film, particularly Mr. Estevez.
Monique Mays and Teresa Swain accepted the proclamation.
The Ohio House of Representatives recently recognized our agency’s Children’s Services section. The house issued a proclamation honoring the section being named Agency of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Chapter.
The Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers selected HCJFS as the best of all public and private agencies in an 11-county area. NASW is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world.
The job of a social worker can be tough. Dealing with families at tough points in their lives can be so challenging and can take a toll on your emotions. So we appreciate this recognition of our workers’ diligence.
“We are thrilled to have the hard work and dedication of our employees recognized in this fashion,” HCJFS Director Moira Weir said. “Just as with our recent timeliness award in processing food applications, it is refreshing when professionals outside of our organization validate the great work we are doing. I am proud and grateful that JFS employees are extremely committed to helping Hamilton County’s children and families.”
We all know there is good work being done at HCJFS every single day. Now, we have a new employee whose job it is to help those outside our walls better understand all that we do and how we are willing to listen and partner in efforts that improve our service to families and children.
Chandra Mathews-Smith started Monday as our new assistant director – community strategies and engagement. She wasn’t looking for a new job, but immediately was interested in this position because of her respect for Director Moira Weir, whom she has known since they were both caseworkers. They both also sit on the board of the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. Mathews-Smith is the board’s chair.
She’s excited about this job because she has always felt a connection to HCJFS. She’s a former foster parent for Hamilton County and an adoptive parent. She led an effort through Beech Acres Parenting Center – where she worked for more than 20 years and eventually became a vice president — to recruit emergency foster homes. She “spent a lot of time in churches, in the community and at rec centers talking about the need for foster homes.”
But her work goes beyond issues pertaining to Children’s Services. She also worked at the Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio as a consultant, helping to keep seniors out of the hospital, and as vice president of operations for Medicaid services. She’s worked on poverty issues, too.
She grew up in Michigan, but has called Cincinnati home for 29 years. She raised three daughters and a fourth attends Turpin High School. She is a proud grandma of three. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a sisterhood of predominantly black, college-educated women who work on service projects in education, health and economic development.
Mathews-Smith was chosen one of 10 Women of the Year last year by The Enquirer and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She was selected for her work with the Community Action Agency and C&C Premier Cleaning, a company she co-founded where the goal is to employ people who have felony records or other barriers that make it difficult for them to find work.
She expects to return to a lot of churches and other locations as she heads back out into the community on behalf of HCJFS. She wants to help the community understand more about the agency and how we want to work together to make positive change in all our service areas.
“I’m honored to take on this huge role,” she said. “This is something that’s after my own heart.”
An act of civil disobedience turns into a standoff with police when homeless people in Cincinnati take over the public library to seek shelter from the bitter cold. So begins The Public starring, written and directed by Emilio Estevez.
An unusually bitter Arctic blast has made its way to downtown Cincinnati and the front doors of the library where the action of the film takes place. At odds with library officials over how to handle the extreme weather event, some homeless patrons turn the building into a shelter for the night by staging an “Occupy” sit in.
What begins as an act of civil disobedience becomes a stand-off with police and a rush-to-judgment media constantly speculating about what’s really happening. This David versus Goliath story tackles some of our nation’s most challenging issues, homelessness and mental illness and sets the drama inside one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action: your public library.
Delores Williams is tough, and she is used to hard work. But getting her Commercial Driver’s License was a different kind of challenge.
She worked in concrete construction for 16 years, but when she was sidelined by an injury, she took advantage of an HCJFS program that paid for her to receive training from Napier Truck Driver Training.
“I always wanted my CDL,” she said.
The HCJFS program allows certain benefit recipients to complete the program and covers the cost of tuition. Williams said the amount if information covered in the classroom, combined with learning how to drive and back up a tractor-trailer, was overwhelming.
“I just went for it. I didn’t think it would be as tough as it was,” she said.
She graduated January 31, but her license test wasn’t until mid-February. Williams felt like she didn’t “get it” when it came to driving the big rig, so she made a plan of attack.
Napier allows students to return any time after graduation to refresh skills.
Not working or having any income, but going to the school was a challenge, but she came back into the training center every day after she took her son to school and stayed up to 7 hours studying and driving. “I knew sitting at home wasn’t going to make me get it,” she said. But when she was at home, she still studied. “I would put a video on while I was brushing my teeth.
She knew many people took up to three tries to pass the CDL test, but she was determined to “one and done” it.
“I was mad that I got an 84, I wanted a 100,” she said. “As much as I studied, I wanted a 100.”
Delores has been working for two weeks now, making deliveries at night to businesses like car dealers. She’s on track to earn more than $60,000 this year. Maneuvering between brand new cars is more difficult than she expected.
Then she smiled and said, “I think I’m embracing the difficult now.”
So, what does she do after driving a truck all night? A couple days a week she goes back to Napier, to help others learn.
She said the training process can be frustrating and it takes a good support system to do well.
“I just try to encourage people,” she said.
Williams says helping other students is one way to give back to all those who helped her. She is thankful for HCJFS for providing the tuition for the program; to the instructors for helping her to “get it;” and for her fellow students for encouraging her.