As you may have read in the May 2016 issue, Focus on Renewal and MRCDC helped launch an ongoing and evolving community forum addressing mental health issues. The group is now known as the Mental Health Providers Network (MHPN).
This motivated and growing network committed to meet bimonthly and has also split up into smaller, more specific Action Teams. These teams meet separately to identify and remove roadblocks to current services.There are now four Action Teams who are each always looking to welcome new team members: 1) Seniors and Integrative Health 2) Children and Transition Aged Youth 3) Addicted, Criminally Involved, Homeless, and Veterans 4) Poverty and Transportation
After the initial meetings, MHPN has expanded outside of the doors of the Father Ryan Arts Center to meet in various stakeholders/provider’s spaces. The Addicted, Criminally Involved, Homeless, and Veterans and the Poverty & Transportation teams recently met at a long established Sto-Rox community champion, the Clean And Sober Humans (C.A.S.H.) Club for breakfast and an impact driven dialogue on Broadway Avenue in Stowe Township.
After the June 16th dialogue, Sr. Sarah Crotty of Focus On Renewal, and a very optimistic partner shared, “I am thrilled with the energy and the commitment of the providers.” When asked about the what the MHPN aims to take on in the coming months Sr. Sarah offered, ”We have a large population of mentally-ill and addicted people in our community. It is important that we find integrated solutions to improve the quality of life for those individuals as well as the Sto-Rox community.”
Focus On Renewal has long been a cornerstone in the Sto-Rox community serving those who are challenged mentally, physically and emotionally. New Executive Director Cindy Haines is further strengthening FOR’s cornerstone status by prioritizing and building community partnerships to increase McKees Rocks’ capacity to serve its residents.
The June 16th discussion included both clients and hands-on volunteers of some of the service providers sharing experiences and stories illuminating how people who are affected by these mental conditions often feel overwhelmed, isolated and alone.Their trials and tribulations often need personal, direct solutions. They need to be able to share their frustrations, to be heard and understood. Mrs. Haines offered, “The profound experience of our clients was explained by none other than one of our own community members. His statements gave us pause to consider the power of faith and hope in what we do”
The police departments in McKees Rocks & Stowe Township face their own challenges in serving the community. The departments are underfunded and understaffed. Despite this, Stowe PD Chief Preninger joined the group because he has also made the connection between the service gaps for mentally ill and the crime rate associated with mental illness. With the help of the other service providers, they are now searching for potential grants, which will help fund anti-crime, trust-building initiatives involving the presence of paid and uniformed officers at outreach events.
The latest outcome of these meetings is a contract solidified between North Hills Community Outreach and Focus On Renewal to serve impoverished residents in the FOR Community Center. The services offered to them will include financial literacy, job placement, housing assistance and more.
All of the action teams will convene again on Thursday, June 30 at 8:30 am at Ohio Valley Hospital and all interested service providers and Sto-Rox community members are welcome.