Connections • CMHAM - Community Mental Health Association of Michigan
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Connections

Connections is designed to help build and enhance the relationships people need to be successful in achieving their goals. Its purpose is to be an avenue for the exchange of information that includes people’s dreams, stories, concerns, successes, etc. Its intent is to connect us all – the individuals who sit around the board room table, our customers, our administrators, caregivers, and our partners in the communities in which we live. People who are working every day to realize our vision for a higher quality of life for everyone in our communities.

As one of those partners that share that vision for persons with mental health disabilities and substance use disorders, we are sharing this electronic copy of Connections. We hope that you will review it and share it with others.

You may also want to contribute or hear about others experiences. We connect by sharing stories. They create indelible pictures. A simple story can teach us more than reams of prescriptive documents about the important ingredients of effective services. We need your stories so they can be shared with others.

If you would like to contribute to a future edition of Connections, please contact the editor Lois Shulman by phone at (248) 361-0219 or by email loisshulman@comcast.net.

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NEW! PODCAST INTRODUCTION

Connections first Podcasts were created at our CMHA Annual Fall Conference in October of 2022. These first podcast interviews were created during an Educational Breakout Session before a live audience of Conference attendees.

Now, I present to you the voices of those with lived experience from that Conference and the podcasts that followed.

I hope that you enjoy listening to their individual podcasts with the joy I received sitting with each of them.

Each of the podcasts that follow on our website will be created by me with a passion to hear and embrace the person sitting before me on screen or in person.

I look forward to the opportunity, continuing to create podcasts and collecting writings for Connections that inspire, encourage and empower you the listener and the reader.

– Lois Shulman, Editor for CMHA Connections

Articles

Transitioning into the Individual You have Chosen To Be

Instructions for building self confidence and two poems, written by Jacqueline Cuevas, from Southwest Detroit. Jacqueline shares her disability story, through her writing and speaking. She encourages all to embrace their unique story to empower each other and build a more inclusive and compassionate society.

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Losing a Loved One to Suicide is a Lonely Journey, Especially when it is a Murder-Suicide

On March 2, 2020, I was awakened in the middle of the night. I glanced at my cellphone and noticed several missed calls and text messages from family members. I soon discovered that my dad had taken his own life in a murder-suicide.

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On-going Recovery Requires Grief Support for Survivors

I lost my son Ryan, a US Marine Corps Sargent, to suicide Memorial Day weekend in 2017. He suffered from PTSD and had a very difficult transition to civilian life after leaving the Corps. The first two years after Ryan’s death were very difficult as I was not successfully coping with my grief.

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Love, Betrayal, Anger, Liberation & Freedom

Five poems written by William Walker, from Muskegon County, based on love, betrayal, anger, liberation and freedom.

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My Experiences at Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse

I have been attending Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse since 2007. Dreams has served as a reference to help me find paying jobs, but more than that I’ve made lots of friends, my communication skills have gotten better, and my self-esteem has improved.

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Living with Mental Illness

I grew up with mental illness. I thought I must have done something wrong, or it was my fault, or I deserved this. Now, over the last 10-12 years, I have learned it was NOT my fault.  No, I didn’t deserve it.  I had a lot of trauma and as a result I have been living with severe depression, anxiety and PTSD.

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Comfort Found in Poetry

I have found comfort in my poetry after I found my 36 year-old son dead. I found him slumped against the bathroom door. I couldn't get to him in time. I wrote 2 poems I hope you enjoy.  I found comfort in writing poetry to relieve my stress.

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Momentum Center for Social Engagement

The Momentum Center is a grassroots movement to create a stigma-free community. Four years ago, in partnership with Community Mental Health of Ottawa County and with funds from the Ottawa County Mental Health Millage, we opened the Momentum Center for Social Engagement, a social and recreational program for people with mental illness, addictions, disabilities, and everyday struggles. It costs just $1 a year to join, and no clinical diagnosis or referral is required.

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I was my own Judge and Jury

He, too, vanished like my beloved wife had just done. Days passed in anguish, knowing nothing. On the fourth day the phone rang. It was the police from somewhere in Kentucky...

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Home and Community Based Services Final Rule

A group of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Michigan is working to educate communities statewide about the Home and Community Based Services Rule and its impact on long-term services and supports.

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The Power of Acceptance

He said, “Paul you are not dumb”. I was ready to hear and accept his words, and my GPA validated his confidence in me. Slowly I began to understand I needed assistance with writing and taking tests.

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Beautiful Minds

This was the turning point in my life and from that point on I was determined to overcome my diagnosis. I started attending every class and therapy session available to me. It was at that time that I started to communicate with my doctors and ask more questions...

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No Child is a Waste of Time

A few months into the job I was doing a "check in" with a student at his school. When I asked the teacher to speak with him the teacher said, "I don't know why you waste your time with him - its a lost cause." Nineteen years later I still remember that moment and it is the reason I went back to school to become a teacher.

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Orange is the New Cat

People said, “That cat sure came to the right place, he’s being treated link a king!”  This was true, but as I watched I was thinking about what the cat was doing for us. 

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Supported Decision-Making

The Court ruled that I do not need a guardian “based on my ability to use SDM to make decisions about my life, and the support and care I receive from my family and caregivers.” With those words, I became the first Michigander to be authorized by a court to use Supported Decision-Making instead of being put in guardianship.

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Yes Your Advocacy Makes A Difference!

"Yet it’s equally true that your personal experience and your guidance – your advocacy – is essential to those who may want to do the right thing but not know what that is or how to achieve it."

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A Long Road to Recovery from Schizophrenia and Depression

I first experienced symptoms of schizophrenia in 1976 when I was employed with a Fortune 500 Company. I had just been promoted from my administrative assistant job to a marketing position. I had to move my entire household along with my two dogs, from New York to Michigan to take this job in just one months’ time.

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Create a Moment to Thrive – Even When Struggling Just to Survive

Glance up again at the title, CREATE A MOMENT TO THRIVE… You may well be thinking, “How can I possibly thrive if I’m struggling just to survive?” That’s a question I’ve had to ask myself over and over – not just today but for decades.

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Magic Happens when People Come Together

The year 2020 brought a global pandemic and life-altering change for all of us. COVID-19 emergency measures in Michigan saw schools and businesses closed, employees furloughed, and directives to shelter in our homes to stay safe. The stress of day-to-day living with the unknown and the threat of serious illness for ourselves and our loved ones is taking its toll. The feelings of exclusion, limitation and possibly loneliness forced upon us by the mitigation efforts are well known to a large swath of Americans. For many of us, though temporary, they feel interminable. However, for people with mental illness or intellectual and developmental disabilities, these feelings can, in fact, last a lifetime.

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And Now for the Rest of the Story…

It’s been a tough year! How are you doing? As of this writing, the pandemic is “officially” over. However, it feels like the ravages of the COVID-19 Pandemic have affected every dimension of our existence.

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Our Peacefulness Within

I practice choosing to: awaken, before my feet hit the floor, stating my gratitude for life itself with all I need provided for me; read an inspirational passage; set my intention to cultivate a curiosity about life in all its forms and understanding; and nurture my mind, body and spirit. I incorporate all this to begin each day creating my peacefulness within.

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A Personal Journey Back in Time:  Mental Health….Then and Now and the things that matter most

Thank you for the honor to contribute our experience with the public mental health system to Connections for Communities that Care. My husband Richard and I have been involved with the mental health system since community mental health was first legislated in the form of Act 54 of 1963. During this period of over 50+ years, we have been part of the roller coaster ride of change, separately, together, and as a family, leading up to current practices consistent with the “System Integrity and Design Principles” adopted by the Community Mental Health Association (CMHA).

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Podcasts

Jacqueline Cuevas

Jacqueline Cuevas is a community activist serving on the Board of Directors for Disability Rights Michigan (DRM) and the Public Relations Chairperson for Self Advocates of Michigan. Jacqueline is a native of Southwest Detroit, mother of three, and business owner for the Junction Party Store.

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Sherri Rushman (Winter Conference 2024)

Sherri Rushman is an Education Specialist and Certified Peer Support Specialist for Oakland Community Health Network and Author of 'Catching Hope: Hope Givers, Hope Receivers & Hope Stealers'.

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Nathaniel Weiss (Winter Conference 2024)

Nathaniel Weiss is the Founder and CEO of VelloHealth. VelloHealth’s mission is to improve the lives of people with serious behavioral health conditions.

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Paul Bennett (Winter Conference 2024)

Paul Bennett is the Clinical Director at Bear River Health Rehabilitation located in Boyne Falls, MI. Bear River Health is focused on substance use disorder recovery.

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Brian Uridge (Winter Conference 2024)

Brian Uridge, who was also a Presenter at this conference, is the Senior Director for Michigan Medicine Safety and Security at The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS).

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Victoria Kavanaugh (Winter Conference 2024)

Victoria Kavanaugh works in substance use prevention and mental health advocacy; coordinating grants, conducting mental health trainings, supervising interns and coordinating the prevention and advocacy division reporting for Arbor Circle located in Holland, Michigan.

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Maya and Lara Hammoud

Maya and Lara Hammoud are the Co-Founders of Perception Foundation, dedicated to raising resources and building sensory rooms and educational programs that empower people of all ages to thrive, learn, and flourish, providing them with the tools and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.

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Robert Price

Robert (Rob) Price is the President and Founder of Team Cont;nue Foundation whose mission is to support families of adolescents and young adults who have been treated for suicide attempts or ideation.

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Author, Audrey Clare Farley

In this interview Audrey shares her passion for the writing of her book, Girls and Their Monsters The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America, and how she navigated the research that lead her on a journey of personal growth.

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Tamara Madison (Fall Conference 2023)

Tamera Madison, Board Member for HealthWest

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Lydia Lamba (Fall Conference 2023)

Lydia Lamba, LLMSW, Suicide Prevention Clinician, CNS Healthcare

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Grace Wolf (Fall Conference 2023)

Grace Wolf, VP of Crisis Care Services, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network

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Chris O’Droski (Fall Conference 2023)

Chris O’Droski, Addictions Community Specialist, Hegira Health, Inc.

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Shellie Cole-Mickens (Fall Conference 2022)

This podcast interview was conducted at the CMHA Annual Fall Conference 2022 held October 23-25, 2023 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.

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Cowboy Hardy (Fall Conference 2022)

This podcast interview was conducted at the CMHA Annual Fall Conference 2022 held October 23-25, 2023 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.

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Todd Koopman (Fall Conference 2022)

This podcast interview was conducted at the CMHA Annual Fall Conference 2022 held October 23-25, 2023 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.

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Malkia Newman (Fall Conference 2022)

This podcast interview was conducted at the CMHA Annual Fall Conference 2022 held October 23-25, 2023 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.

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Raul Gonzales (Fall Conference 2022)

This podcast interview was conducted at the CMHA Annual Fall Conference 2022 held October 23-25, 2023 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.

Listen

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