Friday, July 31, 2009

5 Questions for Matt Friedman, Executive Assistant

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member with each installment. After interviewing about three dozen staff members over the last two years, I figured it was time to turn the spotlight on myself.

Name: Matt Friedman
Job: Assistant to the Executive Director
Time with BCI: 8 years

1. Tell us what you do at BCI.
My title is Executive Assistant, but I like to tell people I’m the fundraising and communications guy. So that means I write the grants, as well as our newsletter, and content for our Web site, and of course this blog. I’m also responsible for donor relations, and I do a lot of our volunteer recruitment. Then I also do some data collection to monitor how we’re doing at getting people in the door and keeping them engaged once they’re here. And, I do some behind the scenes stuff in meetings with our management team, work with our Board of Directors, and do some internal communications for the rest of our staff. So, I really wear a lot of hats. I like the variety and there’s always something to keep me busy!

2. Why did you decide to work in addiction treatment?
A lot of the staff I’ve interviewed for this series have said it wasn’t something they planned, and that’s true for me too. It was a big change from my original field of engineering. I had kind of stumbled into grant writing, just out of school and working for a research and development company. I found I didn’t make such a great engineer, but I made a pretty good grant writer. And at the same time, I was doing some volunteer work mentoring kids, which I really enjoyed. So eventually I put two and two together and decided I should go work for a nonprofit.

I wanted to work for a kids’ organization at first, but I expanded my search, because it’s hard to break into the non-profit field, especially in a role like this, which is so specialized. So when the opportunity came up with BCI, I had to consider it in spite of being new to addiction. I’m a lifelong Delawarean, and I knew nothing about the extent of the problem and the need for the services BCI provides. I talked a little in a recent post about the biases I came in with, and what a leap of faith it was to be able to see myself doing this kind of work. But luckily, I did make that leap, and that was nearly 8 years ago. I think it’s been what I was looking for, in terms of being able to put many different skills to use, and also have that sense of satisfaction, knowing you’re helping change lives right here in your own community.

As someone who’s made the transition from the for-profit to the non-profit arena, I can tell you while it’s not easy to get your foot in the door, if it’s what you really want to do, you should go for it. If you’re coming from a different field like I did, you have to show that your skills are transferable. Things like writing, organizational skills, creativity. Along with that, just show you have a real desire to work for a service organization. Definitely volunteer, or intern if you can, to get a feel for the day to day flow and decide if it’s right for you. So, be persistent, sell your strengths, and know what you want to get out of it.

3. What would people be surprised to know about your job?
That I’m probably the least knowledgeable about addiction of anyone here, even with all I’ve learned over the years. I don’t have a clinical background, so I rely a lot on my coworkers to explain the nuts and bolts of things to me. And I have picked up a lot, but I’ll still give people a blank look when they start talking about IOP’s, and UTO’s, and CRF’s. I know enough to do my job. But every grant we write is really a team effort.

Sometimes having an “outsider” perspective works to my advantage. When I’m explaining a concept in a grant, I’m making sure I can understand it myself. And when I’m writing an article, too, I can approach it as someone outside the organization would. That’s become a little harder over time as I’ve become more of an insider, but in general it still surprises me to hear the realities of daily life for our clients, and their experience going through the channels to get help.

4. Tell us your favorite client success story.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite story. Every time I get to interview a client and tell their story, it’s very rewarding for me. I think I enjoy that part of my job the most. It’s a responsibility I take seriously. It takes courage whenever someone decides to share their story, so I want to honor the realness of what they tell me, but also package it in a way that will resonate with the reader. I really consider it a privilege to be a messenger of life-affirming stories. There are so many here at BCI, and the more we tell, the more I think the public will relate to what we do and see its value.

The story I just did, A Life Saved by Inches, was incredible, mainly because of how close the person was to being dead, and because he survived, he got the chance to get help, and ultimately a new lease on life. But what was also great about that story was, I didn’t even know before I did the interview, that he came to us through our brand-new hospital outreach program. I had set out to highlight the co-occurring disorders therapy at our outpatient program, how this had helped the client work through mental illness, and the work his counselor did with him. But it was an added bonus to be able to mention the Christiana Care project, and the work of the outreach worker, and show that was a success. So it ended up being a wonderful human story, but also a real-life example of a continuum of care. We had someone go from the emergency room to our door, and to successful completion of the program.

5. You can tell a lot about a person from their office. Tell us what you have in your office.
My office is neat and uncluttered. I’m very organized and try to keep only what I absolutely need. Sometimes people give me things to store, which kind of throws a wrench into that approach. I have two tripods, for instance. Anyone need a tripod?

I’m not that good of a decorator, so I have a lot of room on the walls I don’t know what to do with. I have two of Dr. Glick’s travel photos that I won at one of our silent auctions a few years ago. I have plants, because I have two windows and they do well here. I have my rug to add a splash of color. I have some song lyrics on my wall dealing with addiction. One is Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done,” and the other is “My Old Addiction,” which was written by David Wilcox and covered by k.d. lang. I put those up when I first started here, because I was new to addiction and the best way to understand it was through music. Knowing what I know now, I’ve found those two songs are still a pretty accurate picture of reality.

And then on my bookcase, I have some trays from the post office for next time we do a mailing, some books on fundraising, lots of binders from trainings I’ve been to, and some souvenirs from all our NIATx work – baseball cap, coffee mug, Swiss cheese pencil topper. That’s from Wisconsin!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kids at Lighthouse Will Stay Healthy and Fit, Thanks to Donation

The kids at The Lighthouse Program will soon have more ways to have outdoor fun, thanks to a donation from a local church. Wilmington Friends Meeting has generously donated $500 toward the purchase of toys for BCI’s residential program.

We’ll be using these funds to buy toys that will keep the kids physically active outdoors, such as roller skates, jump ropes, tricycles, and games like volleyball and horseshoes. They’ll also be able to play indoors, with new accessories for our Nintendo Wii Fit system that promote a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and recreation are important for the kids at Lighthouse as they rebuild their family life and their bonds with their moms outside of the drug-using lifestyle. Thank you, Wilmington Friends Meeting! We really appreciate this gift.

The Lighthouse Program, located in Ellendale, Delaware, is the only non-profit residential substance abuse treatment facility in Delaware that permits mothers to bring their children with them. If you’d like to support Lighthouse, you can view our wish list here or donate online.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Find Us on The List of Change

The BCI Blog is ranked #138 on a new list of blogs related to positive social change. The List of Change was launched in June by bloggers Geoff Livingston, Beth Kanter, and Shannon Whitley, as a way to not only rank the top English-language cause-related blogs in the world, but also promote networking among the listed blogs.

Rankings are calculated based on Technorati, Google, Bloglines subscriptions, and more, meaning the more you link or subscribe to us, the more we move up. All blogs included in the list are self-submitted. We are in some great company here with some of the leading voices in nonprofit blogging. So please check out the list, see what others are doing to support good causes, and take the opportunity to connect with them!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Presenting Our New Mission Statement!

Brandywine Counseling proudly presents our brand new mission statement, approved by our Board of Directors July 21, 2009.

Brandywine Counseling is a community organization that provides holistic care to persons and their families living with addiction, mental health, and HIV-related challenges.

We’re excited about this new statement. We think it really articulates the range of services we provide today. But we want to hear what you think! Vote in our poll below. The Board has agreed to revisit this mission statement later this year based on your feedback.

Also, stay tuned to find out how you can have input into a new BCI vision statement. This is different from a mission statement and something we’ve never had before. The process will be much more collaborative. So watch for information soon, and thank you for your continued support of BCI.

What do you think of BCI's new mission statement?
I love it!
It's good, but could be even better.
It needs more work.
Free polls from

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BCI Welcomes Jennifer Karpe to Board of Directors

Brandywine Counseling is pleased to welcome Jennifer Karpe of Philadelphia as a new member of our Board of Directors. Jennifer is an Associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom, LLP in Wilmington. In addition to her legal background, she was trained as a clinical psychologist for three years prior to law school. As she explained to us, it was through her work in this area that the cause of addictions services became particularly near and dear to her.

“I provided counseling in a rural area of Alabama where addiction runs rampant and is often compounded by the poverty, lack of education, and lack of support individuals there face. My eyes were opened to the array of problems that often accompany addiction (and are aggravated by it), and the need those folks and their families have for assistance across the board. Although I ultimately decided to pursue a different career path, I think my previous life as a counselor largely shaped my world view.”

The BCI Board is comprised of volunteers who support the mission of Brandywine Counseling by serving as our “eyes and ears” in the community, and sharing their time, advice, and expertise. We are excited Jennifer has joined us and we know she will be a wonderful addition to the organization. Please join us in giving her a warm welcome to BCI!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Would You Write BCI’s Mission Statement?

Our new Executive Director Lynn Fahey has said she would like to expand BCI’s mission statement to include our mental health and HIV services. As we start thinking about how this would look in writing, we want to hear from you. If you were writing BCI’s mission statement, what would it be? This is the current mission statement:

Brandywine Counseling, Inc. is a substance abuse treatment agency that provides counseling and related assistance to addicted persons and their families for chemical addiction and related problems.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Recovery Act Grant Will Bring Vocational Services to BCI Sussex

BCI has been awarded a grant to add a vocational training program in Sussex County. The program will teach clients financial autonomy and help them find and keep employment. It will serve 100 clients in Project Renewal, who typically are homeless, have a substance abuse history of over 8 years, and have three or more treatment failures.

The vocational services are a much-needed addition to Project Renewal’s outpatient and intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment, mental health and primary healthcare treatment, intensive case management, and ancillary services. Our goal is, at six months after admission, for 50% of clients to have improved employment and income.

The grant funds are part of the 2009 Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) fund. First State Community Action Agency, in partnership with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services/Division of State Service Centers awarded these one-time funds for the period July 15, 2009 through September 30, 2010.

The goals of the CSBG Recovery Act are:
A. Reduction of poverty serving individuals and/or families at or below 200% of poverty guidelines;
B. Empowerment of low-income individuals and/or families to become self-sufficient; and
C. Revitalization of low-income communities.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

House Speaker Gilligan Sends Personal Thank You for Client's Letter

Delaware Speaker of the House Robert F. Gilligan sent this personal response to one of our clients who took part in our letter-writing campaign. It says in part, "While I cannot make any promises about state funding at this point, I will work my hardest to ensure that our decisions do not substantially impact the services on which people battling addiction depend."

We are so thrilled that funding was preserved for addiction services, but it's even more wonderful to know our elected officials hear our voice. Our staff who testified before the Joint Finance Committee were also told directly by members that they had read this article we sent them. So once again, proof that our advocacy made a difference.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sign Up for the 2009 Recovery Month Softball Tournament

It's time again for BCI's annual Recovery Month Softball Tournament! This year's event will be held Friday, September 18th from approx. 10-2, at Sports At The Beach on Route 9 in Georgetown. BCI Georgetown is sponsoring the tournament in honor of Recovery Month. Check out last year's photos!

It will be a day of games, food, friends, and sober fun. We need teams to make this happen so we are inviting your facility staff, clients, residents, friends, and family to form a team. All equipment will be provided but please feel free to bring your own.

Please fax this flyer to (302) 856-4705 if your facility would like to participate, with a contact name and number.

Thanks... Let's Play Ball! See You There!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

BCI Reaches Reluctant Clients by Creating "Windows of Trust"

BCI’s Safety Net Services is featured in this month’s CSAT Grantee Spotlight. We’re pleased to reprint it for you here. Pictured from left: Case Manager Sharon Brown, Nurse Joyce Bunkley, Nurse Practioner Chris Zebley, and NSAFE Manager Rhonda Swanson.

Basha Silverman is the Director of HIV Prevention Services at Brandywine Counseling in Wilmington, Delaware, and is the Project Coordinator of its Safety Net Services project. Sharon Brown is the Case Manager for the Safety Net Services project. We spoke with Basha and Sharon about this TCE/HIV grant and discussed their challenges, solutions, and lessons learned.

Grantee Profile
Brandywine Counseling provides behavioral health services to individuals with substance abuse problems and their families. It is Delaware’s largest provider of outpatient addiction treatment services.

Brandywine provides opioid treatment, drug-free treatment, mental health treatment, and case management. It includes pregnant and parenting women’s services, a drug court program, an infectious diseases clinic, and an HIV prevention unit.

Safety Net Services is a multicomponent project offering integrated addiction pretreatment, treatment, and HIV/AIDS services. It incorporates outreach, HIV education and testing, medication management, and co-occurring disorders treatment. This grant targets women and ex-offenders and creates a safety net for at-risk and HIV-positive substance abusers at various stages of readiness to enter addiction treatment.

What are your unique challenges?
Clients have unique patterns of willingness, readiness, and commitment to treatment. They become interested, engaged, and disinterested, and leave, return, and cycle back and forth.

When engaged, clients visit us often, bring their babies, visit our clothes closet, and use our dropin services. We view these as special windows of opportunity to make use of clients’ motivation to change. But these windows can close quickly, challenging our ability to remain engaged.

Co-occurring mental health issues are notable challenges. When clients don’t have rapid access to mental health medications or professionals, their windows of opportunity can rapidly close and their treatment needs may be left unmet.

How do you address these challenges?
Since client willingness and readiness are dynamic processes, we make engagement methods flexible and dynamic. We meet clients where they are, not where we want them to be.

When clients stop coming to us, we reach out to them. But they shy away if outreach is coercive or pushy. Thus, we use gentle motivational interviewing techniques during outreach. We meet clients at times convenient to them. They are often on the street in the early mornings.

Our Case Manager will conduct outreach between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. At such times, clients are often tired and willing to talk and join the Case Manager for coffee and donuts and discuss treatment. Many clients are willing to enter treatment on the spot. Since our program accepts intakes at 5:30 a.m., the Case Manager can take advantage of windows of opportunity and help admit clients immediately.

To enhance outreach effectiveness, our Case Manager has multiple roles. All of our clients are assigned a counselor and a Case Manager. Our Case Manager is an active part of the counseling team and conducts follow-up locating and outreach. Thus, clients already have a relationship with her. She is a friendly face.

We promote treatment-on-demand to address mental health challenges. CSAT funding helped us expand the roles and hours for our nurse and nurse practitioners. They previously worked only with HIV clients but now work with HIV clients and those with co-occurring disorders. We were also able to increase physician and psychiatrist time. These changes increased access to psychiatric evaluations and medication management. Having our Case Manager coordinate appointments further increased access and reduced waiting lists.

What lessons would you like to share?
Program and client goals can be at odds. A program may seek to achieve 80 percent abstinence, which is commendable. But clients may have such goals as getting a home or a job, leaving an abusing spouse, or reuniting with their children. They may want to be better spouses or parents.

We can improve the lives of our clients best if we use goals and milestones that are client-centered, realistic to each client, and take into consideration the resources in the community and clients’ lives.

We implemented several process improvements that resulted in reduced waiting time and increased admissions. To do so, we had someone anonymously walk through the admission process and experience it from a client’s perspective. This revealed delays to make appointments, complete the intake and assessment paperwork, enter treatment, and receive lab tests.

We convened a committee to analyze the processes. We took steps to reduce appointment times, shortened the admission process by eliminating duplicate admission and assessment paperwork, and reduced lab delays from weeks to hours by using same-day lab tests.

How has GPRA data collection helped you?
Asking the GPRA tool questions fosters thoughtful and probing discussions with clients. It helps to create relationships with clients and opens up windows of trust and intimacy. Asking the GPRA questions helps us to better understand clients’ lives, experiences, treatment needs, and resources.

This article is reprinted with permission from CSAT Discretionary Grantee News, July 2009.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Join Our Email List!

There have been lots of great stories at BCI recently. If you’re a regular reader here, you already know it. We told you the story of James, who wanted to end his life, and now is grateful to be alive. We brought you Q&A interviews with Sally and Lynn. We even brought you stories in video form and in our clients’ own words. You know about these stories, but does everyone know it?

Now, our Email List makes it easier than ever to share our stories with others. Our latest newsletter has all of them. It’s free, and easy to sign up, and you can unsubscribe whenever you choose. You can even visit our Email Archives to see examples of what you’ll get.

We think stories of recovery are great, and we want everyone to know it. If you agree, help us spread the word. Subscribe and share today!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tiffany Morman to Represent Delaware at Recovery Rally

A&E’s Recovery Project has selected BCI’s Tiffany Morman, Lighthouse Program Director, as the 2009 Recovery Delegate from the state of Delaware. Tiffany will participate in the second annual Recovery Rally in New York City and symbolic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, September 12, 2009.

The Recovery Project’s goal is to generate widespread awareness that addiction is a treatable disease and recovery is possible. The campaign seeks to help erase the stigma of addiction. The Recovery Rally will coincide with National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, in partnership with the advocacy organization Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR). Last year's Rally included more than 5,000 recovering addicts from across the country and their friends, family and advocates sharing their stories of determination and hope.

Congratulations Tiffany!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

BCI Tests 56 for National HIV Testing Day

Saturday June 27 was National HIV Testing Day. The BCI outreach team took part in Each One Teach One’s 6th Annual Health Hookup Community Festival, held at Wm. Hicks Anderson Community Center.

The event offered screenings for a range of important health issues, and we were responsible for the HIV testing. Guests were encouraged to visit all the exhibit tables and receive a sticker, which they could then exchange for lunch, including burgers, hot dogs, and chips.

We tested 56 people at this event. A lot of young people came out that day, which was a good thing. Unfortunately, we found no new positives, but everyone learned their status and ways to stay negative.

Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) and BCI want you to know that free, rapid HIV testing continues to be available at sites throughout the state all year long. Get tested at any Needle Exchange site or call 655-9880, ext. 21 for an appointment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Did It!

Delaware passed the FY10 budget early this morning with no cuts in program contracts to disability providers. We are so excited! It seemed inevitable there would be cuts this year that would force us to reduce services. But with your help, we wrote to the legislators and spoke with them directly about the value of addiction treatment. They heard us!

As we celebrate this victory, we want to say thanks to all of you who wrote letters and shared your stories. We want to thank DelARF for their work on our behalf. And we want to thank the officials and legislators, particularly the Joint Finance Committee, for their support.

Though we won this battle, we’ll continue to need your support in the future, so stay tuned to to see what you can do and when you can do it. Thank you again for making a difference!