Monday, December 24, 2007

Annual Door Decorating Contest

One of our holiday traditions at BCI is our staff decorating their office doors. At the Lancaster Center, this always gets the staff and clients into the spirit of the season. I was asked to be a judge this year to pick the winner of the contest. Most of the entries came from the Bridge-Perinatal unit. There was lots of creativity this year, but in the end we went with the most original and the most fun.

The winner: Valerie Brown
Besides incorporating lights, Val’s Santas sing “Jingle Bells” in a motorized, yet cheerful voice to the patient waiting room. Scary? Perhaps. But it brought a smile to our faces, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Honorable Mention: Dawn Mason and Robin Stewart
Dawn and Robin also get points for including lights in their display. We could tell they put a lot of time into the attractive flowers as well.

The rest:

Teresa Evans
Only a month on the job, and she shows she can decorate like a veteran!

Kathy Kelley
She wins the cultural competency award for incorporating several major religions.

Darniese Banks
Darniese conveys the theme of love, peace, and joy with a two-sided display.

Jenn Kutney
Check out the great ribbon. Duct tape – is there anything it can’t do?

Thanks to all who participated this year. From the BCI family to yours, have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2007

5 Questions for Steve Burns, Housing Coordinator

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Steve Burns
Job: Housing Coordinator, Project Return Transition House
Time with BCI: 13 years

1. Tell us about your job at BCI and the clients you work with.
I’m the House Coordinator for the transitional residential program, where we have six individual Brandywine clients for housing. We help them get jobs, we help them save money, we help them get different skills, we help them go to school. Whatever they want to do, we try to help them better themselves, so when they leave, they’ll be in better shape than they were before they came.

We try to get clients that are already clean and already have some kind of positive outlook or some kind of direction. But sometimes, when a person’s in a homeless situation, none of that’s possible. So first, we try to stabilize the client with their methadone dose. Whatever street drugs they’re using, we get them to stop doing that. Then, in the first 30 days, we try to find out which direction they want to go in. Do they want to go to school, do they want to get a job? But this is not a shelter, it’s not emergency housing, this is a transition house, and we’re trying to help you do something more positive in your life.

2. What advice do you have for someone who would like to do the job you do?
You have to have patience, and you have to have knowledge of what it’s like to be homeless. You don’t have to be homeless, but at least have some knowledge, some background, some schooling, some conversation. Just being able to understand and identify with a homeless person. Because a lot of times, people are homeless for a reason, they’re not just homeless because they don’t have a job and money. 75% of people who are homeless have either alcohol or drug addiction problems. 80% of them have mental health issues. A lot of them come from broken homes, no parent in the home, abuse of some kind. It’s just a lot of things that factor into a person being homeless. So on any given day, you may find out something about one of your residents that you never knew, but now you see why they act the way they act.

3. Tell us about your favorite client success story.
We had a female client at the transition house who was there when I came. We didn’t get along. Being in recovery and doing this as long as I’ve been doing it, I can kind of see different behaviors. And so I always addressed her on her behaviors, because I thought that that would be one of her downfalls, as far as her staying clean or relapsing, and she could never understand.
But in the end, she graduated from the program. She has a job, she has an apartment, she has a bank account, and she’s still doing good. And we’re great now, because through it all, now when she sees me, she says, “Thank you for staying on me. You know, I couldn’t see it then, but I had never saved money, never had my own place, I’ve never had my own job. Now I have all those things. I have recovery, I have a sponsor.”

4. Your involvement with the recovering community goes beyond your job at Brandywine. You’re also the President of the 1212 Club. What does it mean to you to be involved in that work?
Being the President of the 1212 Corporation is very rewarding, because it’s a place where people can come. It’s a safe haven. You can just come, relax, look at TV, play cards, have meetings, get yourself something to eat. I have some other people that are in recovery that are on the board with me. We work together because we want the 1212 to be a place where it’s safe to come. We want people from Brandywine to come. We’re doing something right now [with Advancing Recovery and clients from the Alpha Program], where we’re going to do some recovery coaching stuff, to see how it works.

The majority of our people don’t have skills, they don’t have education, so they need housing, they need education, they need jobs. We have a job training program. It’s not just 12 Step meetings -- that’s the most important part -- but a lot of times people say, “What’s the purpose of me staying clean if I don’t have a job, if I don’t have affordable decent housing. If I have to go back to the projects where I came from, I’m doomed.” So at the 1212, we try to help people to get to that next level in their recovery.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI, what would you do with it?
I probably would put it into transitional housing and the great work that we do with HIV and AIDS. I think those are two important parts right now.

The transition house used to just be open to Hope clients, Assertive Treatment Team clients. Now, since it’s open to anybody who qualifies, it has broadened the scale, and I would like to see us get more houses, get more space. Because I’m filled now, but every day there’s another counselor asking me, “Steve, do you have a bed? Steve do you have a bed?” People leave me messages, “Steve, do you have a bed?” So I think would be another great feat for Brandywine if we could expand that program.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Lighthouse Program Opens Its Doors

Delaware's first Women and Children's Residential Addiction Treatment Program, dubbed The Lighthouse Program, opened December 10 in time for the holidays. Two guests are prepared to move in by the end of the week, and referrals are now being accepted.

Women interested in receiving treatment can get an assessment at any of the Substance Use Treatment centers in Delaware. An assessment appointment can be set up over the telephone.

For more information on the program and how to apply, click here.

Project Hope: 5 Years of Serving the Triply Diagnosed

Brandywine Counseling, Inc. (BCI) recently wrapped up Project Hope, a 5 year CSAT-funded project that provided integrated substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, and medical care to substance abusers with or at risk for HIV/AIDS in Wilmington, Delaware. Project Hope was successful on many levels.

Project Hope continued BCI’s partnership with Christiana Care Health Services to provide integrated nested services. Also known as a “one stop shop,” this approach proved very effective for a chronically ill population with multiple needs. Nesting services in a single clinical home within our on-site infectious disease clinic increased communication among clinicians, increased the comfort and safety of patients, and strengthened confidentiality. We first used this model in 1999 as part of the Aegis program for minority women. In 2002, Project Hope expanded the approach to serve both men and women.

Most Project Hope clients were between 35 and 45 years old with no employment history, little education, and multiple treatment failures. Half of the client population was triply diagnosed with substance abuse, mental health and HIV diagnoses. With this in mind, Project Hope’s achievements are impressive.

  • We treated 151 clients, our target capacity.
  • 75% of clients remained in treatment for six months or longer. The average length of treatment, regardless of discharge status, was 10 months.
  • While in the project, 36% achieved and maintained sobriety.
  • Clients complied with mental health and HIV medications. Many (44%) improved their income and many (40%) reduced their risk of HIV by participating in the program.

These achievements may seem modest for many substance abuse programs, but they are remarkable for a program treating the triply diagnosed. In sum, Project Hope demonstrated the effectiveness of integrated nested services for the dually and triply diagnosed.

Though Project Hope has now ended, all clients continue to receive appropriate treatment from other BCI programs. In 2007, BCI received a new CSAT grant to provide treatment and pre-treatment services. Safety Net Services will continue the engagement, linkage activities, and case management found effective with Project Hope.

On a personal note, Project Hope was one of the first federal grant proposals I wrote for BCI. I remember working with Shay Lipshitz to put it together, and trying to translate her vision for the program into a coherent written plan. We knew that if we were successful, we could make a difference for people who really needed these services. As a grant writer, it’s especially gratifying to see a project through from conception to reality. So to the staff who provided these services, I say thanks for a job well done.

Friday, December 7, 2007

5 Questions for Karen Barker, Account Manager

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Karen Barker
Job: Account Manager, Lancaster Center
Time with BCI: 13 years

1. What is your job at BCI and what do you enjoy about it?
The job that I do is like information central. I take the money from the clients, but also, I try to keep everybody informed of what’s going on, including clients, staff, anybody that needs anything. [When a client comes to the window,] first they have to pay. Then they may need to see their counselor, so I page the counselors. They may have a doctor’s appointment, or they have lab work, or they need to go up front for some other reason. I try to just be in a million different directions, while standing in one spot.

As nasty and argumentative as it is, it’s still one of the most enjoyable things in my life.

2. What advice do you have for someone who would like to do the job you do?
Be patient, and understand that every person that steps up to your window is not the same person who was there thirty seconds before, and everybody deserves to be treated on their own basis, not in the space of someone else.

3. You give out a “thought of the day” to the clients on slips of paper. How did you get that idea and where do the thoughts come from?
I’ve done that for the past 15 years. I got the idea because one of my very favorite clients, when he first came on, said, “Miss Karen, I need to be told what to do every day.” And I just laughed at him, and so that actually became the first daily reading the next day. The very first reading said, “Sometimes I need direction, though I don’t like being told what to do.”

From that point on, I tried to do one every day, and they get very upset if there’s not one every day! “Yo, Miss Karen! Where’s my reading?” And the readings come from either my mind -- I think of something in the middle of the day, write it on a slip of paper, tape it on the wall – or someone says something to me that I know they need to hear again, come back at them, and I’ll just make that one of the readings.

4. What has been the most rewarding moment for you at BCI?
One specific client, and him finding the sobriety that he looked for, is always something that I carry around. When it gets tough and you think no one can do it, I just think back to that first person whose urine was clean.

He came directly from the hospital, and he was in the kind of state that, both mentally and physically, he was a beaten man. But he knew that it was up to him to pull himself up on his feet -- we’d stand behind him if he fell backwards -- but he had to pull himself up. And when I saw the kind of strength from how far down he was, I knew that, just being there for when they get straight, but also when they fall -- because he fell many times -- but every time he came up, he was ready to do it again, wholeheartedly. And it’s very emotional to watch, you get very attached.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI, what would you do with it?
I would start out with $10,000 straight off to the Bridge Perinatal division. I would take another $20,000 to start an outreach that is equal to the methadone piece, because I find that when people first come on the clinic, that’s the hardest time. They’ve already hit bottom. They are so done that their own mother is done with them. They have no one to borrow 4 dollars from, they have nowhere to find 4 dollars. But the clients willingly help the clients. And so I would start that to be available for clients during their first 30 days of treatment, and make it easier for them to stay in treatment.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lighting The Path Home: Help Us Build a Children’s Playground

Dear Friends,

Season’s Greetings from Brandywine Counseling!

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff and those we serve, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best this Holiday Season and say thank you for your support!

In the spirit of giving that permeates the holiday season, won’t you consider a gift of a donation to Brandywine Counseling?

This year, we have a very special project you can help with. Soon we will celebrate the opening of a first-of-its-kind program for Delaware, The Lighthouse residential program for women with children. We hope to be able to build a first class playground for the children, but the price tag is over $10,000. We need your help.

For the first time, parenting women in need of long term residential treatment will have a place to go, and their children can come with them. The Lighthouse Program will help families entrenched in a drug using lifestyle learn a healthy way of life. The mothers will get help for their addiction, trauma, and mental illness, while taking classes in life skills, computers, and parenting. The children will have a safe space where they can learn, grow and heal, including on-site licensed day care, therapeutic interventions, education, and recreation. For these families, Brandywine will truly be lighting the path home.

As 2007 winds to a close, The Lighthouse Program is under construction in Ellendale. Families will soon move in and begin their new life. Imagine a child seeing their new home, with a bright, colorful playground. Your gift will make their eyes light up!

Your gift will help the mothers and children in so many ways. And, you could solve the dilemma of those “hard to buy for” people in your life with a monetary gift in their honor. The moral and financial support of friends like you has made a difference in our patients’ lives. Today, your year-end gift can help ensure these important services continue. You may use a printable form or donate online on our web site. All donations are tax-deductible.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff and especially those we serve, I wish you all the joys of the holiday season, and thank you in advance for your generosity.


David A. Oppold, President
Board of Directors

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Winter Coat Drive

The Outreach Department is holding a winter coat drive from December 3-21. Please donate your new or used winter coats to help BCI clients in need. Coats may be dropped off at 2814 Lancaster Avenue.

For more information, contact Rochelle Booker-Stewart at 655-9880, ext. 23. Thank you.