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Making a Difference & Giving Back


Two Amazing Graduates who are Making a Difference and Giving Back

When Crestwood San Diego opened in June 2014, a client named J. was admitted to the program in its second week of services. It was then that J. and staff created and began working on her personal plan for recovery. In just a little over three months, J. became Crestwood San Diego’s first “graduate” meaning that she had successfully completed the program and was ready for discharge to the community.  J. felt that her experience at Crestwood was so valuable that she decided to return to the facility as a peer volunteer to assist others on their personal journeys of recovery.  After a couple of months of work as a peer volunteer, J. was offered a paid position as a Rehabilitation Assistant at Crestwood San Diego. She accepted that offer and has since completed a Peer Training course through NAMI.  J. continues to work in this capacity at the facility, providing inspiration and support to the clients, as well as staff.

Crestwood Chula Vista opened in June 2015, and one of the clients admitted there shortly after was A.  A. soon became a participant in the Crestwood Chula Vista’sDreamcatchers Empowerment Network Vocational Program, designed to provide support and education to those with the goal of finding employment. Following J.’s leadfrom Crestwood San DiegoA. became Crestwood Chula Vista’s second “graduate”. A. now returns twice a week to the facility in the role of peer volunteer, providing meaningful support to others. In addition to providing peer support, A. also leads a weekly bible study group at the facility.  He currently has the goal of becoming a Rehabilitation Assistant like J., and is well on his way to achieving that goal with thesupport of staff at Crestwood Chula Vista.

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Balance Through Yoga


Yoga Providing Balance at Crestwood Wellness & Recovery Center in Redding

Some people may think that to participate in Yoga class would require a certain physical aptitude, conditioning, and frame of mind. Yet, really the only requirement is being willing and able to stretch the mind and body. Through a structured and repetitive Yoga class routine, clients are learning just that at Crestwood Wellness & Recovery Center in Redding. The Yoga program offers classes every Tuesday night for any clients or staff who wish to participate. Deanna Voorhees, Wellness Manager at the facility, teaches the Yoga program.  Deanna has studied and taught ballet, tap, jazz, modern dance and Yoga for more than 20 years“Consistency is an important component of recovery,” said Deanna. “And when a client consistently attends any group, it speaks to their ability to commit to something and hopefully that will carry over into their community living skills.”

During the Yoga class, clients and staff are taught to focus on deep breathingrange of motion, balance, and centeredness. The clients learn about their body’spotential, rather than limitations.  The class also helps clients to increase self-awareness, enhance physical and mental stamina, detoxify the body, find a new social circle, and connect to their inner spirituality. Studies have shown that controlled breathing, which is an integral part of Yoga, provides relief for depression. Yoga also calms anxiety by reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. Clients report feeling more rested, relaxed, and that they sleep much better.  One client, Dan G., commented, “The Yoga class is relaxing and meditative. I feel better and can do it on my own.”

The Wellness & Recovery Center’s Yoga program has become so popular that there have been requests for an additional class. The program provides clients and staff at the Center with a chance to experience and learn there is much to be gained mentally, physically, and spiritually through Yoga.  

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Providing a Beacon of Light


Crestwood’s Psychiatric Health Facilities Providing a Beacon of Light in the Darkest Moments

There is no more significant moment than the moment when you feel the greatest despair, the moment when you cannot find any controls for your emotions and actions, the moment when you find yourself lost in the streets, homeless, hungry and frightened, the moment when you can no longer endure the life you are living. These times generally get you to the door of an ambulance, police car or crisis center. These are the crisis moments the clients who come to Crestwood’s Psychiatric Health Facilities (PHFs) find themselves in the midst of. This moment is pivotal and can be the beginning of a long and dark road of hospitalizations, or an opportunity to embark on a journey of recovery, serenity and peace.

Crestwood has become one of largest provider of PHFs in the state with programs at our American River, Bakersfield, Solano, Sacramento and San Jose campuses.  The PHFs are designed by and for individuals who are in the middle of crisis moments and need a soft place to land. The PHF environments are cozy, with soft wall paint hues of welcoming color and are decorated with carpet and home furnishings to eliminate the sterile hospital environment feel.  When a client first arrives at one of Crestwood’s PHFs they are greeted in a comfortable welcoming room and are provided with snacks and drinks.  Each client’s initial assessment occurs in this welcoming room and is conducted as a soft inquiry interview, rather than a long list of yes and no questions, which helps to calm the client and put them at ease.

Once a client has been welcomed, they are then provided with a tour of the rest of the environment. The PHFs are small programs, accommodating 10 to 16 individuals, yet each has a large, relaxing living room; dining room and kitchen; group rooms; sitting areas for just visiting; and a serenity room with chaise lounges, walls painted darker soft hues, art and music for contemplation, meditation and peace of mind. The bedrooms have homelike beds with comforters and enough space to allow freedom of movement and privacy.

The PHF programs are designed to be open, enabling clients to choose classes each day, as well as to take the time they need for individual healing rituals such as journaling, sharing stories and laughter. The evidence-based classes available to clients include Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), and Cognitive Behavioral skills training in anger management, self- soothing, assertiveness training, medication awareness, and life-skills training. The creative arts are also provided as another recovery tool that each person can bring with them as they transition back to their home or community.

The support offered at Crestwood’s PHF programs is exceptional.  The psychiatrists are well-versed in recovery methods and a variety of recovery tools, including medication. The licensed clinical staff and nursing staff are trained in WRAP and have extensive training to avoid coercive treatment. The relationship each staff member has with each client is viewed as one of the most healing recovery tools. Another significant support that is available for clients is peers helping peers.

Clients are also provided with transition training to help prepare them to return home or to a new environment. Linkage to community-based providers is vital at this time, as well as family support and education. With the support of the PHFs’ service coordinators, each client is linked to services, understands their aftercare plan and has an idea of where to get help should another crisis arise.

So it is only with love, compassion, hope and ongoing support that the darkest moments can be transformed into the beginning of a sacred healing journey of recovery and peace.  The Crestwood PHFs provide clients who are in this time of crisis with a safe environment that is warm and welcoming and surrounded by others who have been in their shoes and who can hold hope until they are ready to hold it for themselves.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD
Crestwood Vice President

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Providing Meaningful Roles


American River Residential Services Providing Meaningful Roles for Their Residents

At American River Residential Services (ARRS), they provide residents with community housing and support services in a welcoming and motivating atmosphere, with the goal for each resident to be able to live independently when they graduate from the program. One important part of ARRS’ program in helping residents achieve their goal of independent living is Vocational Wellness.  Vocational Wellness acknowledges the need for creating meaningful roles through personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life, which is developed through learning job skills and building on positive activities. 

Vocational Wellness at ARRS begins with an assessment, followed by providing residents with assistance in applying for an identification card, obtaining a social security card, and completing paperwork. ARRS’ Program Director, Damela Barnes, initiates the next step in the Vocational Wellness program by encouraging residents to become a Dreamcatcher.  A Dreamcatcher is a resident who, after having gone through the initial process of participating in the Vocational Wellness program, agrees to go through vocational training by working in a part-time job.  Often times when residents are first approached about becoming a Dreamcatcher their responses range from, “I can’t work because I’m disabled,” to “I can’t do a job, it’s too hard,” and even “I receive an SSI check every month and I don’t need a job, I’m fine.”  But with positive encouragement from the staff, these same residents often agree to participate in the Dreamcatchers’ program and discover meaningful roles for themselves through the job experience.  An example of this is Tamara who says, “I enjoy being a Dreamcatcher.  I work three times a week and it’s really fun. I have been working for a month now and would like to continue.”

Dreamcatchers are assigned rewarding and positive work experiences in various job positions throughout the facility, such as kitchen assistants, housekeeping assistants, maintenance assistants, office assistants, recycling, and groundskeepers. Staff members, working in their respective departments, serve as mentors to the Dreamcatchers.

The Dreamcatchers’ program is very popular at ARRS, with at least half of their residents participating.  ARRS’ ultimate goal, by providing the resident Dreamcatchers with a simulated working environment within the facility, is that it will eventually help them transition into working in the community prior to graduating from the program.  It is extremely rewarding for the staff mentors to see this whole transformation unfold before their eyes. “The experience of working with residents and seeing them succeed is simply amazing and enriching and it all begins with providing residents with meaningful roles,” said Vernon Frayna, Program Coordinator at American River Residential Services and the PHF.

Many Dreamcatcher residents love the fact that they receive a paycheck with their name on it every two weeks.  “I work as an office assistant.  My job is very fulfilling and I like working with the staff,” said Traci, a Dreamcatcher.  “I am excited about my paycheck every two weeks.  And I look forward to a rewarding career as a full-time receptionist after I graduate from the program.”

Meaningful roles created through learning job skills and working at a job gives the Dreamcatchers a reason to get up in the morning, smile, and keep up with their hygiene and grooming, and associating with others.  Vernon observed, “Because they know that people believe in them, that makes them feel good about themselves.”

The Dreamcatcher residents are thriving, feel empowered, supported and understood at ARRS by being provided with meaningful roles. Vernon reflected, “One of the best compliments I have ever received from a Dreamcatcher at ARRS was, ‘Thank you for letting me do a job and for giving me hope.’”