HopeWorx staff

Students learn rights and speak up…as important now as it ever was

Community Advocates held its “Self-Advocacy Training”  at Hopeworx in Norristown on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. There were 24 participants at the 3-part interactive training where students learned to use their voices by knowing their resources, honing their negotiating skills and speaking up in an assertive, respective manner. A Community Rights Handbook was reviewed. The training ended with a film created by Hopeworx/CST/Community Advocates staff titled “A Call for Change.”




Great class. Very smart students! It’s your voice. Be heard!

Kathie Mitchell

Celebration of Life

JB – Friend, colleague, mentor, family

By: Kathie Mitchell, Director of Community Advocates


It’s hard for me to believe he’s gone. Each morning for the past two weeks, I expect to see a text message or email from him on my phone. JB was an early riser, and he liked getting to the office early in the morning before anyone else got there and it was still quiet. At the office, he had a presence. I still look up from my desk and expect to see him standing quietly and patiently in the doorway, waiting to update me on the outcome of a class, the result of some research he did, an injustice that needed to be addressed.


JB was passionate about the work he did at the county correctional facility. He told a colleague recently that this was the work he was meant to do. He loved teaching the re-entry class but always humbly reminded everyone that the class was about the students, not him. I attended the most recent graduation on May 12th where 13 men received their Certificates for completing the class. It was the 16th time we held the 14-week class which ran consecutively for the last 5 ½ years. JB was always proud of the students and took the time to know each and every one. In this last class we had introduced “Storytelling” where individuals learned a simple technique to help them focus on telling a concise, strengths-based story about themselves (or elevator speech as it’s sometimes called) to prepare for a court hearing, to talk with a probation officer, or interview for a job. At graduation, each of the men were given a few minutes to tell their story. You could feel the emotion in the room as each man bared a little of his soul, a past discretion and then a hope and sometimes a prayer, that they were going to start a new life in the community.  One gentleman in particular, pointed to JB and said, “I know that if you can do it, I can, too.” Leading by example, JB shared his story over the course of the class and truly made the connections and gained the trust of so many who felt hopeless, had made mistakes, followed the wrong path, had no one to give them a hand up, or who had forgotten how to trust.


JB knew we appreciated him because we told him often since he was prone to blaming himself or being his own worst critic. He was always polite, dignified, interested, hardworking and caring. Above all, he had a great respect for people and in turn, was greatly respected by those who knew him. I am so happy that he received an award for his work from NAMI Montgomery County just a week before he died. It was an honor to be there with him and to see him recognized for the work he achieved. He was really at the top of his game.


The next day on my desk, he left me a beautiful card with a painting of an Oak Tree by Jerry Garcia on the cover. It was filled with gratitude about the support he received at Hopeworx and as he put it “allowing me to be me.” Being him was what made the job so successful. In the card, his sentiments were also filled with hope, ironically, for the future. At the end of the card he thanked me for being “such an integral part of my journey to reaching just the beginning of bigger and better things to come from the advocacy team that I’ve come to love so dearly.”


He was part of our family at Hopeworx and I sent him a thank you text that read, “It’s been a privilege working with you and the rest of the team. We are a family! With much gratitude, Namaste.”





December 20, 2012

12:00-2:30 P.M. 



  • Committee Break-Outs
  • Meeting Format                              
  • Introductions                                        
  • Housekeeping Update & Diplomacy Reminder
  • Review of minutes
  • CSP Budget
  • Committee Break-Out Reports
  • Advocacy Subcommittee
  • Public Policy Subcommittee
  • Social Subcommittee
  • CSP Regional Report
  • Joint Provider Update
  • Personal Wellness
  • New Business


Montgomery County CSP Mission Statement:

MontgomeryCounty’s Community Support Program (CSP) brings together individuals that receive mental health services, their family members, providers and the Department of Behavioral Health in an equal partnership to promote recovery and excellence in the delivery of community-based mental health services.

 CSP Meeting Information:

 Because we encourage new membership, we want to ensure that everyone that attends the meeting has the opportunity to learn more about the Community Support Program, the CSP principles and the purpose of this committee.  A community of support systems represents a philosophy about the way in which services should be delivered to persons with mental illness.  Individuals with mental illness are seen, first and foremost, as persons with basic human needs and aspirations. A basic value of the CSP concept is that the community is the best place for people to have access to the supports and opportunities needed by all persons as well as to specialized mental health services.  The CSP concept is based on creating opportunities for individuals to develop their potentials–for growth, improvements, and movement toward independence–rather than fostering a life of dependency, disability, and “chronic patienthood”.

 Pennsylvaniahas a state CSP committee whose major function is to see that the perspectives of individuals that receive services, family members and providers are all being represented within the mental health system.  Each region has a CSP committee to which local CSP committees report.   

 MontgomeryCounty’s CSP encourages input and volunteerism from individuals that receive services, family members and providers.  Please ask questions about anything that you don’t understand.  If you would like any more information about CSP, please see one of the co-chairs after the meeting.


Thank you for your participation in the meeting.



Montgomery County CSP Committee Meeting

November 15, 2012


Topic Discussion Action
Review of Minutes The committee reviewed the minutes and Vera updated the committee about the Extended Acute Care proposal that the county has been working on.   
Budget Report Mary Fala outlined the current expenditures, which were pizza and Community Connection grants.  
Committee Reports 




















Mary Fala reported:-       The committee talked about advocacy about the budget and the suggestion to bring Kate Atkins to talk about the budget process so that the committee is educated before the commissioners attend a future meeting.

–       Discussion about whether to make a separate newsletter committee so that the advocacy committee can spend more time discussing issues rather than planning the newsletter.

–       Discussion about new Mobile crisis diversion service versus MCES’s crisis diversion service, which emphasized diversion from hospitals.  The committee will invite Access Services, which is providing the services, to present information at December’s meeting about the new program.


Ameika Malcolm reported:

–       The committee discussed the upcoming project to spruce up the library community room – they are continuing to work on getting resources for that.

–       NAMI in Lansdale have agreed to partner to host a Lansdale brunch – we’re working on a location.

–       The committee is continuing to try to get the word out about the Community Connection grants.  

 Kate Atkins to be invited to future mtg.


Access to be invited to Dec. mtg to speak



Committee to continue looking for resources for library spruce up. 


Lansdale brunch to be scheduled

County Updates Vera Zanders talked about how the feedback from CSP is used plan and provide services in the county.  An additional crisis residential service is starting – the need for this service was identified in the CSP surveys last year, and the criteria that the committee who reviewed the proposals for the service were set from the feedback from those surveys as well.  

Another need that was identified by CSP services was the need for a peer run warm line.  Access Services will be providing both services, and they will begin rolling out those services in January 2013 in part of the county and will grow to serve the whole county. 


The next area the county is working on based on the previous surveys is how to improve services for Residential Services in ways that help people connect to available resources in the community. 


Matt Sarafinas said that he had attended the kickoff for the Residential Transformation project and he was interested to see how a Housing First approach provides 100% upfront vouchers to move people into apartments without having to find resources for upfront costs and without having to spend 70% or more of income on housing.  The committee discussed issues like the unavailability of Housing Vouchers (formerly Section 8), transportation, and the need for roommate matching services. 

Ideas for roommate matching included creating a Craig’s List-like site online for providers to use, what kind of questions people should ask potential roommates, and using peer support to facilitate roommate issues.  Also, a concern about sharing a living space impacting household income for Social Security was raised.





















Committee agreed to keep discussing ideas for housing issues.


 Joint Provider Update  Matt Sarafinas had no report because the Joint Provider meeting was canceled last month. Matt will forward information from the September meeting to Sue Shannon to include with the minutes (the Roadmap for Housing Stability presentation from the September meeting is attached).   
Approval of Gas Card Procedures The Gas Card Application was distributed and discussed by the county.  

A concern was raised about how to choose which applications will be given priority.  The suggestion was made to give out the same number of cards each month, and for the original planning committee to draft a more specific priorities list (ie whether a person attends CSP, etc).

Committee to begin accepting and considering gas card applications at the next CSP meeting
CSP Regional The state approved a budget for the CSP Regional committee with a 10% reduction, so the regional committee would receive a budget of $8550. The committee has also received an additional $5000 from the regional OMHSAS office. 

The committee is planning a holiday party at their December meeting.  It is also publishing a December newsletter which will incorporate information from the Alternatives conference, including information from the keynote speaker, Mary Ellen Copeland.


The November meeting included a discussion about the plans for the scope of work for the year, and specifically about diversion from the Norristown State Hospital, an issue that arose from members of the NSH Human Rights Committee.  The committee plans to survey the five counties in the region to see whether the lack of availability of long term acute care at the Norristown State Hospital is causing issues. 

New Business Jesse Celestin from MCES talked to the committee about MCES’s effort to facilitate people being able to vote.  She helped everyone who wanted to vote receive and submit absentee ballots.  Three members of the CSP committee also gave a presentation at the Norristown State Hospital about voting and they were impressed by how motivated the people were there to vote.  

There was a discussion about library spruce up for MLK day – it may not be possible to get everything organized in time for MLK day, but if not, we will schedule another day to volunteer when the supplies are organized.