Recent News

Happy Halloween from River Community!!

Smiles and laughter filled the air as our residents took part in the annual River Community Pumpkin Carving Contest. Each participant was given a pumpkin to carve, and everyone involved did an amazing job expressing their “Halloween Spirit”. Staff members had the daunting task of narrowing down all the wonderful entries to only the top three favorites. Target gift cards were given out as prizes to this year’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners (Madison, Erasamo, and Rafael). This activity once again proved to be a wonderful experience, as it not only helped the members of our community to unleash their personal creativity, but also allowed them to take part in a fun filled and artistic endeavor, while deepening their bonds of friendship.


 

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Stepping Stones women celebrated Dia De Los Muertos at Covina Park on Saturday. Some of the residents got into the spirit of the event by painting their faces. Dancing, socializing and a good time were had by all.

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Omni residents and staff spent a fright filled night at The Queen Mary, Dark Harbor Haunted Excursion. They saw ghosts and ghouls of all varieties.

The group toured the ships haunted interior and walked through the spooky mazes. Omni Center residents and staff had a great time bonding with one another and building on their recovery foundation.

It’s true you can have fun clean and sober!

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Touchstones hosted their annual Open House this week. Residents enjoyed giving visitors tours of their home and talking to them about their recovery process. Everyone enjoyed food and fellowship.

Local artist, Carmen Uriarte, was busy during the event working on a mural in our main entryway. She engaged residents and our visitors in the creative process through comment boards and dialogue.
 

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Mariposa residents created collages during their domestic violence group. Each collage symbolized a stand against violence.

Residents and staff read “The Purple Ribbon Story” and discovered the history behind purple becoming the symbol for domestic violence awareness. One resident stated “It feels good to stand up for something you believe in and today I showed it in my collage. I believe everyone should stand against domestic violence!”

Residents enjoyed making and displaying their feelings in art form.

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The participants of River Covina and the Wellness Center began “Red Ribbon Week” by cleaning off our dusty windows and replacing the dust with big red ribbons.

Everyone really enjoyed this project and did a fabulous job. The celebration will continue with a presentation on the origin and meaning of “Red Ribbon Week” as well as its importance in recovery. Please stop by during Red Ribbon Week and visit our windows.

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Mariposa Halloween Party:  Come to the Party!

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On October 5, 2013, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) sponsored its annual walk where Team Social Model Recovery Systems held its ground with over 90 walkers helping to raise awareness about the need to stop the stigma that plagues families and individuals whose lives have been adversely impacted by mental illness.

Since its inception in 1979, NAMI has become the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Each year NAMI raises funds that are used to “provide help and hope to millions of Americans” through funding public awareness events and acitivities such as NAMI Walks, free NAMI education and support group programs, mental health care, support for veterans, their spouses, and their children, and to fund and promote research to ensure solutions for early interventions, improved treatment, and a cure for mental illness.

Walk Manager Shelley Hoffman told the crowd that discrimination and stigma are unacceptable and that recovery was alive and well right there at the event. Not only was it a beautiful day full of fun and fellowship but the event helped raise awareness and funds for NAMI Programs!

NAMI is still accepting donations online namiwalks.nami.org/smrs2013 or mail.  Checks can be mailed to:

NAMIWalks Los Angeles County
3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1501
Los Angeles, CA 90010

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Covina participant Ernie C. celebrated two years of sobriety this month. He has been enrolled in the Program the entire time and is a significant role model for his peers. Ernie is very quiet however his actions and commitment to recovery speak volumes. Congratulations, Ernie!

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Attention!!! Social Model Recovery Systems just created an additional page on our website for all those who are interested in joining our Alumni Association. Visit the page to stay up-to-date with current events, acknowledgements, and meetings, but most of all don’t forget to read about our monthly warm greetings. If you are thinking of staying involved after treatment or making a new friend, Social Model is working hard in building our relationships with those we serve. Stop procrastinating or isolating hoping to wait for a cue -- this webpage here is just right for you! Questions or comments can be directed to alumni@socialmodel.com.

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Omni Center and Mariposa residents and staff came together to celebrate the birth of their first “Omni/Mariposa” baby.

Ruby was born healthy and substance free to Ruben Garcia and September Valenzuela on 9/20/2013. Both of her parents are overjoyed at the arrival of their precious miracle. They are both working separate programs in two of Social Model’s residential recovery programs taking the steps necessary to maintain their sobriety and reunite their family. Congratulations to these amazing parents.

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River Community Covina and Wellness Center co-hosted their Annual Open House this month. The event showcased both Programs and was enjoyed by local probation officers, providers of services at other programs, local dignitaries as well as Social Model Recovery Systems’ participants, staff and families. River Community Covina began providing services in 1997 and the Wellness Center in 2007. Participants proudly conducted tours of the properties and everyone enjoyed a nice lunch and fellowship.

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Social Model Recovery Systems celebrated Recovery Month with “Recovery Happens” at Cortez Park in West Covina. More than 300 people turned out to celebrate recovery with us. We enjoyed a Carnival theme complete with bean bag toss, balloon popping and even a chance to win a gold fish at one of the booths. Our children enjoyed being a part of the festivities winning prizes, getting their faces painted and laughing with their parents.

We ended our day with a countdown of recovery starting with over 27 years of recovery to celebrating men and women enjoying their first day of recovery.
The Social Model programs produced recovery banners of objects important to them for recovery. Our banner finalists were Omni Center and Mariposa. Thank you all who attended and showing support for life.
 

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Omni Center congratulates Javier Medina on achieving one year of clean and sober recovery. Javier celebrated surrounded by his family and friends. This has been a year about change for Javier. He has been able to put his past behind him and embrace his recovery with an open mind. Javier is currently working with Homeboy Industries to remove his gang tattoos and is volunteering with them in hopes of acquiring a long term position. Let’s give Javier a big hoorah!!

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Mike J. recently celebrated six years of sobriety. Mike has been with Social Model Recovery Systems his entire recovery. Beginning with enrollment at River Community, Mike transitioned to our former Day Treatment Program and then to Outpatient services. Mike is now enrolled in the Wellness Center. Mike has gone from being homeless to having a place of his own. He has re-united with his family and is a true inspiration to us all.  Congratulations to Mike on this glorious occasion!

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River Community recently enjoyed a day at Huntington Beach. The van was filled with excitement and anticipation on the drive down the hill. Music played on the radio, participants and staff sang along and soon they were aware of the smell of the salty ocean air. Everyone worked together to set up beach blankets, beach chairs, a shade tent and coolers full of delicious sandwiches, chips and refreshments. The participants enjoyed the ocean and had a great time splashing in the waves, collecting sea shells and investigating sand crabs. There were lots of fun and games with a beach ball and Frisbee as well as sand castle building. At the end of the day, everyone worked together to pack up and clean up the beach area. The staff and participants drove back to River Community covered in sand and saltwater and feeling good.
 

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The most recent Cultural Day at River Community involved walking through the history of Great Britain.  In conjunction with the history, participants painted a banner that represented recovery and this is what they had to say: 

"A code of arms has long been used to represent families, states, and land, or to represent a united group of people. Here at River Community, we are all united in our journey to sobriety. On our code of arms there is a nautical star. The nautical star has long been used to represent truth, spirit, and hope. The majority of the points on the star is said to represent the origin. The three stars pointing towards the river represents the spirit of hope that springs from the river.

Below the star there is a Willow tree. This represents endurance and strength. As addicts and alcoholics, we pray daily for strength and endurance. The color blue that flows in the river represents truth and loyalty. Truth is the basis of our 12 step program.

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Touchstones kids spent a few hours exploring Hsi Lai, a Chinese Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights. After wandering around the gardens and making incense offerings in the main shrine, they sat around a table in the visitor’s center drinking tea and discussing all the different possibilities for a higher power. It put us in mind of a trope by the fifteenth century Punjabi poet, Kabir:

In the morning when you awake
Don’t rush to your carpet to pray
rather pick up an instrument and play a song
there are a million to honour your Higher Power

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The Touchstone’s Gang spent fourteen hours running, screaming and laughing their way through Disneyland. The group, usually unable to agree on anything, pulled together a consensus that decided which rides to ride, where to eat, and what souvenirs were absolutely indispensable. It’s gratifying to see what starts in the morning as a pack of argumentative, self-interested kids, becomes after a day of Space Mountain and Soaring Over California, a group of happy and cooperative young adults. Disneyland truly is the happiest place on Earth.

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On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, Mid Valley Outpatient had the opportunity to attend a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day in Los Angeles and we had a great time rooting for the home team. Staff and participants dressed in Dodger blue enjoyed the day together as the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 4-0. This day was another testament to the fun and laughs to be had in recovery. We are grateful to the Los Angeles Dodgers for providing us with tickets for this event.

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On August 17, 2013, UCEPP hosted a group of more than 30 African American freshmen from Loyola Marymount University (LMU). These students are part of a program called The Learning Community which aims to cultivate leadership and promote academic success at LMU. The students worked alongside UCEPP staff and youth participants to decode messages in popular music, especially references to drug usage. Afterwards we went to Gladys Park to share our findings as well as creative artistic expression promoting a healthy neighborhood. The day was capped off with a group dance, as participants spread joy, laughter, and love throughout the park. UCEPP thanks Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Chaka Dodson, and the LMU family for your continued support of our efforts to improve Gladys Park and the Skid Row community.

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Mid Valley Outpatient staff and participants hosted their Annual Open House.

Mid Valley was happy to showcase their diverse programs which offer each participant and their family members opportunities to achieve better lives through recovery and positive change.

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Social Model Recovery System's 11th Core Belief directs us to seek and create mutually beneficial relationships with the community. Touchstones has embraced that value in our efforts to create a safe and nurturing environment for our residents. Through the efforts of parents, staff, alumni, and community members, Touchstones has recently embarked on a renovation and beautification campaign. Most recently, our garage and work out area was remodeled, see here, by John Powers and son of Stealthbbuilders. We have also renovated our residents’ bathroom, beautified the exterior, and have future plans for a major kitchen remodel.

Touchstones staff and residents went to visit the...

In the spirit of celebrating American history, Touchstones staff and residents went to visit the Battleship IOWA Educational Museum & Attraction docked at her new home in San Pedro - the west coast’s only battleship open to the public. Considered one of the “best and coolest exhibits to See with The Kids” we went on this adventure and the event was breathtaking. We experienced a journey through World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War to experience what the life of a sailor was like on the lead ship of the last class of gunships. As you walked through the entire ship you could literally smell the history as guides that had been stationed aboard during her active time walked with us and explained her stories. We walked the wood decks of a battleship and saw areas such as the 16” guns, 5” guns, missile decks, bridge, mess areas, tomahawk cruise missile launching pads, phalanx (WASP) Gatling guns and the world famous Captain’s Cabin - with the only bathtub ever installed on a battleship for a President. Known as “The Battleship of Presidents” the IOWA was the staging grounds for the Invasion of D-Day and host to all the commanders from the Pacific fleet during the active invasion. IOWA has hosted three Presidents - Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush - and numerous dignitaries during almost 70 years of her rich service history. Touchstones was pleased with the voyage back into time and would recommend it to anyone seeking excitement while clean and sober.

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Touchstones residents recently returned from a five day camping trip to San Simeon. Residents swam in the ocean, held 12 Step meetings on the beach, and hiked. For most of our residents, this was their first time camping.

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River Community Covina and Wellness Center participants used some of the money they recently raised to take a trip to Bonelli Park. There was fishing, a volleyball game, board games, and a picnic. They really seemed to enjoy themselves and were able to use some of the social and communication skills they have developed in their programs. The weather was perfect---not too hot with a slight breeze. They are looking forward to planning more outings while the weather is still nice.

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River Community staff and residents enjoyed the day at the Getty Museum. For some, they had never experienced such beauty, and others were grateful to be able to see the fantastic art and architecture for a second time. We took a guided tour and had a picnic lunch provided by our counselor Theresa. Residents are looking forward to a return trip or the opportunity to visit other museums.

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The residents at Omni Center have truly taken interest in their health and well being. The men recently took a camping trip to Camp Williams in The Azusa Canyon. The residents and staff worked together to BBQ their meals and engaged in self-help discussions. They hiked the trails and swam in the river that runs through the campsite. They wandered in the natural beauty of our San Gabriel Mountains. Many of the men have never been hiking and stated that they can’t wait to go again. We believe that these opportunities to connect with self and nature are an important step in building on the foundation of recovery and fellowship.

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This month, the staff of River Community joined the rest of the Social Model family for its annual agency picnic. With a carnival theme, there were booths set up with games to be played and prizes to be won. Children and adults alike enjoyed face panting, ice cream, the toilet paper toss, as well as River's "Go Fish" booth, just to name a few of the wonderful activities offered. As the event came to a close, prizes were awarded for the top three carnival booths. River Community was proud and honored to be awarded 2nd place. A wonderful time was had by all, and we can't wait for next year's event!

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Mariposa staff and residents recently celebrated with a baby shower for a soon-to-be mommy. This mother is excited to prepare for her bundle of joy, expecting her baby girl's arrival by the end of July. She smiled after her baby shower and stated “ Thank you Social Model and Mariposa for everything!”

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Mariposa celebrated a very special day with family and friends of graduates for eight former residents who successfully completed residential treatment here at Mariposa. It was a day of accomplishment, joy and freedom. These graduates experienced a hard struggle through their process of transformation. They blossomed into beautiful astonishing “Butterflies.” We had two special guests that joined us for our celebration, SMRS CEO Jim O’Connell and Board President, Jerry Brown. It was a fun filled day! “Spread your wings and fly butterflies.”

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For the third summer in a row, Social Model Recovery Systems has been represented at the “Parks After Dark” summer resource fairs. “Parks After Dark” was launched in 2010 to provide youth and families with productive activities in their communities to decrease the likelihood of their participation in at-risk, gang related behavior. The fairs occur in parks located in Los Angeles, Monrovia, Duarte, and Altadena. Here we see Wellness Center counselor, Tami, at a fair in Monrovia. There is music and food provided along with opportunities to meet other service providers and develop new resources for our participants. Our staff looks forward to going every summer.

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River Community Covina and the Wellness Center participants celebrated the Fourth of July by making colorful banners to put around the group room. One participant, now known as “Cheesy P”, even wrote a “rap” song about how he is looking forward to watching fireworks sober. Everyone made plans to have a safe and sober day as well as support each other in their recovery. Happy Fourth of July to all!

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This picture represents the bond and unconditional love between mother and daughter. Mariposa’s alumni Dianne is truly a miracle. She made a decision to change her way of thinking and living when she found out that she was expecting a child. She entered Mariposa with hope, motivation and determination to be a clean and sober mother to be. Dianne gave birth to a healthy baby girl while in treatment. She went on to complete treatment successfully and transitioned home with her beautiful baby. She since then has been consistent with coming back every week to fulfill her commitment at Mariposa and to be an example to the newcomers that recovery can happen. Here she is smiling proudly as the mother that she now is with her baby girl thanks to this path called “Recovery.”

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Rest In Peace “Mr.” Jesse Lee Murray
from KevinMichael Key

On May 31, 2013, longtime Coalition member Jesse Lee Murray passed away in his room at the Ellis Hotel. He lived a full life - he was well over 70 when he died. Jesse Lee will be fondly remembered by all of us from the Coalition. Say his name and a smile comes from within. Jesse Lee loved his community, loved his Coalition…..and he loved his vodka. He would often say, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” So I’m gonna tell y’all the truth, I loved that little old man.

Jesse Lee was a happy drunk, I don’t know if I have ever seen him sober, but I do know I have never seen him doing evil to anyone. Jesse Lee was a real southern gentleman. He was filled with old school country ways and sayings. Whenever I saw him I would holler, “Mister Jesse Leeeeeeee Murraaaaaaay!” He would always respond, “I’m just Jesse Lee, my granddaddy was Mister.” Jesse Lee will be sorely missed. He wasn’t the most vigilant Coalition member but his actions belied his shenanigans. When we began our prevention work in Gladys Park, Jesse Lee anted up $199.00 to replace a leaf blower.

On the day we learned Jesse Lee had passed there wasn’t a dry eye in the building. We would see this little old bowlegged man peering through our window and I would rush to open the door. He would say, “Don’t mind me, I’m just checkin’ on my peeples,” then he would go on his way to buy some more vodka. He loved and valued us. Zelenne, our director, held in trust his most sacred document - the Deed to his burial plot.

As the LA County Coroner’s Office wheeled out his covered body, I made it my business to hold the door for Mister Jesse Lee Murray.
 

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Mariposa staff and residents recently celebrated “18 years of sobriety” for two special staff members. Residents cooked chicken tacos, rice and beans for this celebration. The birthday girls shared their experience, strength and hope of recovery.

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Touchstones resident ML successfully obtained employment this week. ML’s parents assisted with acquiring a work permit, he applied himself all semester at Touchstones on-site school, and ended the school year completely caught up in credits. ML is super excited about this employment opportunity which is in a field he already enjoys in his leisure time, so his passion should shine through. We are all very proud of him, and look forward to this next phase of his life.

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River Community Covina and Wellness participants joined together to celebrate “Juneteenth 2013” this week.  Participants Angela M. and Tom N. prepared a presentation on the history of Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with the news that slaves were now free -- two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had become official. Today, Juneteenth is celebrated in many states and by all cultures. The participants had a potluck luncheon and each brought food representing their culture for all to share. The presentation was very moving and some participants became emotional when hearing how poorly slaves had been treated. The day ended on a positive note, both uplifting and inspirational.

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Mariposa staff, residents and alumni recently celebrated the birth of Baby Prince. It was a day filled of delicious food, games, gifts and joy for the new edition to the Mariposa family. This mother expressed such gratitude for her new baby boy, the path of recovery, and a new way of life.

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Omni Center continues to grow in the community by being of service to others. The Omni Center fellas had the opportunity to join with The Family Center in providing meals to their participants. By continuing to take personal interest in our neighbors we grow as individuals.

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Omni Center is well into our Change Team Project. We continue to focus on the beautification of our campus and in the process have learned that some of our staff and residents enjoy planting and gardening. We encourage everyone to stop by and take in the beauty of our garden and hang out for some good old fashioned fellowship.

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We wish the best to all the interns that supported us and learned with us this academic year. SMRS is pleased to annually host interns from several Southern California schools at our various locations. This year's interns include BSW, MSW, and AOD Counseling interns from Mt San Antonio College, CSUSB, CSULA, East LA College, and UCLA. We would like to wish our best to: Rob, Hannan, Sandra, Devin, Guerro, Brittany, Shoshanna, Joel, Silvia, Nicole, and Justin.

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The Omni Center family has embarked on a new and exciting journey into wellness . Research shows that nourishing the body is as important in the recovery process as nourishing the spirit. In this light, the Omni Center family studied a variety of food ideas and unanimously agreed on juicing as a daily recovery tool. Experimenting with a variety of fruits and vegetables, the Omni Center family seems to be feeling more energized and they look forward to building healthier habits as they discover and share more great tasting, body healing recipies.

Southern California is rich in the history of...

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Southern California is rich in the history of Mexico and its people as demonstrated by the number of residents and staff who participated in the Mexico themed cultural event at River Community.  Residents worked enthusiastically with Counselor Sara Kurtz learning about Mexico and its culture, as well as how their own lives and family backgrounds are tied to the history and traditions of Mexico.  Counselor Maria Garcia once again graciously shared her niece who delighted us with traditional Mexican dancing. Kitchen Supervisor Patrick Caluya prepared pork with salsa verde which was enjoyed by participants and staff. River Community cultural events are beneficial as they help to build understanding and strong relationships between peoples of different cultures and religions.
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Social Model Recovery Systems’ main office in Covina is committed to saving the environment through several recycling endeavors. Our shredding of confidential documents as well as all other paper products has increased our contribution to the environment by saving 39 trees last quarter. This is a large contribution considering the number of office staff. In addition, bottles, cans, cardboard and electronics are recycled from the main office. We encourage every Social Model program and every person individually to do their part in recycling.

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Omni Center and its residents have begun working on its Change Team Project. The team is enjoying working together to beautify the campus in the City of El Monte.

Omni Center is excited to continue to grow and cultivate relationships with each other as well as the garden areas. Andrew Moon, one of Omni Center’s primary counselors, took a personal interest in planting some new foliage. We love his pink gloves.

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 Several members of the Social Model Recovery Systems family as well as Touchstones' Alumni and friends of Touchstones from the 12 step community spent a day at Touchstones repairing, painting, spring cleaning and planting for the season. Businesses and individuals donated paint, cleaning supplies, plants and household products for the success of the project The day was filled with new experiences, fellowship and laughter. Spearheaded by Screening and Assessment Director, Amy Castro, all Social Model Recovery Systems programs are scheduled for a day of the same kind of special attention.
 

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Michael Sivey, Screening and Assessment Counselor met with a local resident to assist her in accessing available resources. Social Model’s Core Beliefs speak often of meeting people where they are and treating them with dignity and respect. Michael is an excellent role model and demonstration of these principles.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
In observance of Denim Day 2013, participants and staff at Pasadena Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence used denim to create a message of hope, justice, and empowerment for those who have suffered from sexual assault, abuse, and violence. This is a topic that hits close to home for many, and our participants and staff enthusiastically approached the task of transmitting the message through the wearing of denim as well as participation in an art project aimed at sharing knowledge and power on this topic. We are proud to observe Denim Day every year and take the opportunity to raise awareness and educate all who we come in contact with about the significance of this day.

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Mariposa and Stepping Stones have enjoyed a long history of sisterhood through the years. Every year the programs come together to play softball, fellowship and bond as women in recovery. This year they added another event to their tradition. In addition to the annual softball game, this year both the lovely butterflies of Mariposa and the women of Stepping Stones spent afternoons at each others' programs cooking dinner, fellowshipping and participating in a 12 step meeting together. Residents and staff saw more clearly than ever the therapeutic value in one addict helping another.

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UCEPP Builds “Another Planet”

Usually when one sees a chalk outline on the street or sidewalks it has an ominous meaning, this is especially in our downtown Los Angeles “Skid Row” community. On Sunday, April 14th, UCEPP Coalition members and community partners took another step in deconstructing the negative stereotypes that plague our neighborhood, by rebuilding Another Planet directly across the street from our office space. Austin Hines, Los Angeles Poverty Department troupe member and Coalition supporter, came up with the idea to recreate the space to commemorate its birth 25 years ago.

A June 10, 1989 LA Times article by ZAN DUBIN described Another Planet:

A Skid Row cultural center run by and for the homeless. The center, a converted gas station at the corner of Wall and Boyd streets that opened last year, is an eccentrically decorated gathering place and the site of poetry readings, video screenings, chess games, jam sessions and other activities. It also has two portable toilets. It is drug and alcohol free, organizers say.

Another Planet burned down a little later, under “suspicious circumstances,” during an ongoing landlord tenant dispute. The proprietor and founder is inventor/ visual artist and musician, Clyde Casey, who often wears his artistic inventions as clothing and jewelry. He makes large movable drum sculptures and uses them to create participatory musical events. Clyde created Another Planet, an outdoor cultural space, where you could find poetry, ping pong, TV, live music and jam sessions by and for people in the community, twenty-four hours a day. The spot also offered storage for belongings and free clothing.

For one Sunday in 2013, Another Planet flourished again in Skid Row. Jose, the owner of the mechanic shop across from our office, graciously donated his space for our use. We made music for residents and those passing by, on Casey’s drumming platform which rested on top of a wheelchair. Coalition members came to listen, do spoken word or sit and make music on a donated Hammond organ. Someone drew a Mandella art form with the words, Another Planet inscribed. It was a fitting footnote, on this day at this place the chalk outline meant life, art and community vibrancy, unlike the chalk outlines that usually characterize most media narratives about this community. This day we really were a part of another planet.

 

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Javier Medina, a resident at Omni Center, proudly displays his Food Handler’s Certificate after completing a course this month. Javier and his counselor at Omni Center, Andrew Moon, developed a Treatment Plan that looked at Javier’s interests and goals and incorporated his strengths and the new strategies he was developing to create an action plan. Andrew helped Javier find a course best suited to him and in line with his total treatment experience. One of Javier’s many cheerleaders was Rene Avila, Kitchen Supervisor at Omni Center, who was available to help Javier and give him input and support as he moved through the course.

When asked how he felt after receiving his certificate, Javier stated, “I feel good, this is my first certificate ever. This is all possible from staying clean and sober and using all the tools Omni has been giving me.”

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All of Social Model Recovery Systems outpatient and residential programs have been recently accredited or reaccredited by CARF International. The mission of CARF is to promote quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of participants served.

This accreditation is the result of SMRS’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of services provided. CARF has recognized the Agency’s achievement in its listing of Organizations with Accreditation.

Bill Fujihara, L.C.S.W., Clinical Director for Social Model Recovery Systems, commended all Programs, “for their commitment to the ongoing improvement and quality of service provided to participants.”

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On March 27th, Lacey Webb, Screening and Assessment Counselor, was presented with the “Inspiring Women of Mt. San Antonio College” award. The award is presented to two students and two faculty members each year based on their overcoming substantial personal struggles and demonstrating personal achievement despite of their struggle. The award also recognizes the affect Lacey’s achievement has had on motivating others.

In her acceptance speech, Lacey stated that she was “overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude for being recognized as an inspiration to others”. She committed to continuing to strive to continue being a positive influence at school, her work with SMRS, and in her personal life.

The award is inscribed with one of Lacey’s favorite quotes: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” - Maya Angelou

Lacey is currently completing her last semester at Mt. San Antonio. She will graduate in June with an Associates Degree in Drug and Alcohol Counseling and an Associates Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences.
 

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River Covina and the Wellness Center participated in an Easter Egg Hunt that was organized and completely driven by participants. Myrl and Jeremy were selected to prepare Easter Baskets, hide the eggs, and purchase items for the winner of the hunt. In addition to the hunt, there was a three legged race, a water balloon “toss”, and a picnic. No matter what their ages, the participants enjoyed the activity and made the most of the beautiful day. Many thanks to Myrl and Jeremy for a job well done!

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Touchstones hosted a Graduation Ceremony as two Touchstones residents completed the requirements for high school graduation. “I never thought about wearing a cap and gown,” one of the graduates said, “using drugs took away any hopes I might have had for the future.”

Bringing adolescents completely out of their environment in order to allow them the safety to begin their recovery journey, Touchstones provides the space for residents to attend 9th – 12th grades on the property. As an Orange Unified School District class, the curriculum is the same as its host campus, Richland High School in Orange.
 

Participating in school five mornings a week provides educational consistency that many residents have lacked due to their drug use and the choices they had been making. In the consistency of daily attendance and participation, many residents have discovered or rediscovered a passion for learning.
 

Touchstones teacher Jeff Segal, and Ed Madrid, Richland High School Principal, awarded the diplomas to the girls in a ceremony attended by parents, family, Touchstones staff, alumni and current residents.
 

One parents commented, “I am so grateful we found Touchstones. It gave our daughter back her dreams, taught her how to make healthy choices and be successful and gave us back our little girl in the form of a young woman.”

Social Model Recovery Systems participated in The...

For the 11th consecutive year Social Model Recovery Systems participated in The Great Trivia Challenge at Azusa Pacific University. Our team pictured above Michael Sivey, Margo Edwards and Garett Staley placed fourth out of twenty five teams! Awesome job team!

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On March 25, 1992, Touchstones admitted its first three residents to long term residential treatment. Since that day more than 1,300 adolescents and their families have received primary treatment services at Touchstones.

The Touchstones model is a blend of the social model and 12 step models of treatment. Adolescents, and their families, are provided strategies for making healthy choices and given vocabulary to verbalize their feelings and perceptions. In the safe environment created by structure, consistency and boundaries adolescents begin to experience successes free of the bondage of alcohol and other drug use.

At a recent Alumni Event, a young man who has maintained regular contact with Touchstones since he was a resident in 2001 said, "I still use the strategies I learned when I was a resident at Touchstones. I have stayed sober, graduated from college and married. These are three things I couldn't have even imagined before Touchstones. At Touchstones I was given enough courage to dream".

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Malavika Bangar, “Mal”, Screening and Assessment Counselor, can be spotted since her marriage to Clint Lopez on February 22 throughout the agency’s programs wearing red and white bracelets.

Mal’s bracelets are a traditional Punjabi symbol of blessings for the marriage and the long life of the groom. The bracelets are given to the bride by the maternal side of the family and Mal will wear hers for no less than 40 days and potentially up to a year.

Mal’s family came from India to celebrate Mal and Clint’s wedding. There were a variety of cultural marriage festivities including a traditional Christian wedding to honor the groom’s family as well as many traditional Indian events.

Her position with Social Model Recovery Systems has been Mal’s first full time job since arriving in the United States in 2007. Mal has always been determined to give 100% to her department and the persons we serve. For many months Mal would take a taxi from the main office in Covina to Touchstones in Orange to complete an assessment. Since those days she has gotten a driver’s license, bought a car and conquered the southern California freeways.

We wish Mal and Clint a long, happy and prosperous marriage.
 

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Coalition Stops New Alcohol Outlet
By Kevin M Key

When Ronnie Walker learned that Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) had won the right to place an alcohol venue right across the street from where he lives, at its sparkling New Genesis Hotel, this UCEPP Coalition member had had enough. Mr. Walker had been following the explosion of alcohol outlets in Downtown Los Angeles over the last five years. “Every week I get a notice from the City of another Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and just like any other addict/alcoholic, it seems like they can’t get enough to drink,” Walker said.

He knew about the prevention work of UCEPP and after reading the decision of the Zoning Administrator hearing the case, he was ready to speak truth to power. An appeal was filed, and with Coalition help he began gathering names and pictures to support his appeal. We all knew this was an uphill battle. The Zoning Administrator had covered all the required bases in making his decision and SRHT had hired a well known, well connected alcohol advocate to push their application through to fruition. For years our Coalition has decried the over-saturation of Downtown Los Angeles with alcohol outlets. We have fought the “alcohol fueled economic revitalization of Downtown,” and generally our efforts have been in vain. We at UCEPP believed in Ronnie’s cause but knew from experience that his plea to the Central Area Planning Commission was likely to fall on deaf ears. As the hearing date neared, we became more encouraged. Community residents, Coalition members, and even tenants in the New Genesis came forward. Nobody we talked to wanted another alcohol outlet, especially in a hotel primarily populated by formerly homeless people new to recovery.

On March 12, the community came together and made a difference. All of SRHT’s colorful photographs and presentations could not help their case. Mr. Walker spoke passionately and knowingly about the potential damage another alcohol venue could do to others. Coalition members spoke to the Mission of SRHT, “to provide permanent supportive housing to the homeless, the poor and the addicted.” Members brought attention to the lack of community support for this project and the increased risks it created to those living there. The Coalition covered all its bases while SRHT was left to defend the project as a pure “business decision.” When all was said and done the collaborative efforts were rewarded and the Planning Commission upheld the appeal. There will be no booze at The New Genesis.

 

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Eleven Mid Valley Outpatient participants graduated from El Monte Drug Court on March 14. “This is an exciting day,” one of the four women graduates said, “it wasn’t easy but I am proud of myself for completing it”.

Commissioner Rodriguez, the first Judge in El Monte’s Drug Court, presented a brief history of the Drug Court to the participants and their many family members and friends gathered to support them and honor their achievement. Commissioner Rodriguez commended all the graduates on the work they had done. He also warned them, “although you are completing and you should be very proud, do not let up on your programs’. “ He cited Drug Court statistics which show 66% of Drug Court graduates do not re offend. “But, he warned, that leaves 34%, do not be in the 34%”.

Certificates and a gift were presented by the current Drug Court Judge, Gilbert Ruiz. Each participant shared a few words, mostly words of gratitude and thanks both to the Drug Court and to Mid Valley Outpatient services and staff. The essence of the talks was heard as one young woman stated, “I want to thank Mid Valley for giving me the structure to find myself”.

One man, when called up by Judge Ruiz to receive his certificate was welcomed by a woman in the court room yelling very proudly, “that’s my dad!”
 

Daniel Zatarian, Mid Valley Counselor, Felipe Kaiser, Social Model Recovery System's Regional Program Director and Jim O'Connell, Social Model Recovery Systems CEO, enjoyed the Drug Court Graduation.

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Bruce Boardman. Senior Director of Adult Services at Social Model Recovery Systems is pleased to announce a change in management structure for our outpatient programs in the West San Gabriel Valley.

Felipe Kaiser has accepted the position of Regional Program Director. Felipe is responsible for oversight of Mid Valley Outpatient and Pasadena Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The combined sites provide service to approximately three hundred adult and adolescent participants living in the West San Gabriel Valley.

With the hope of providing opportunities for change to persons in his community, Felipe enrolled in the Addiction Studies Program at Intercoast College. His career with Social Model Recovery Systems began in February of 2008 as he started an internship at Pasadena Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (PCADD). Felipe was almost immediately hired by Program Director, Amy Castro as a full time counselor. “Felipe has a dedication and passion for the work we do and the people we serve. He seemed to intuitively know the needs of our participants,” Amy said.

In 2010, when Amy was promoted to Director of Screening and Assessment for the agency, Felipe moved effortlessly in to the leadership role at PCADD. During his time in Pasadena he has developed relationships with multiple high school sites helping to build an outpatient adolescent program for the communities around Pasadena. As a fully certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADAC) he has continued to see the importance of education and is finishing his Bachelors Degree in Human Services with an expected completion this month.

Felipe expresses excitement at the opportunity to bring his style of leadership to Mid Valley Outpatient. The biggest change he has implemented to date is the opening of a Clinical Coordinator position. The new position will allow for both sites to remain learning locations for multiple MSW programs throughout Southern California.

Please join us in welcoming Felipe to this exciting new position in Social Model Recovery Systems.

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Cynthia Lujan, counselor at Mid Valley Outpatient, recently celebrated 9 years of sobriety. Participants surprised her with a cake to acknowledge her for this incredible milestone in recovery. We are all proud of Cynthia and happy to have her on the team as an another shining example that recovery is possible.

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River Covina participant Joshua B. celebrated one year of sobriety this month. Since his enrollment in the program, Josh has re-gained custody of his son, stopped smoking marijuana and states he has learned to express himself more appropriately. He states his mother sees an improvement in his tolerance and because of his many achievements, his brother has not smoked for three months. Joshua was very quiet and shy when he first arrived and has now blossomed into a productive, positive role model for his peers.

In addition to Joshua’s celebration, Wellness Counselor Chris celebrated six years and Covina Counselor Jo celebrated 16 years of sobriety. Congratulations to all!

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Social Model Recovery Systems is happy to announce some very exciting recent changes in the management of its program services.

Garett Staley, LCSW, MPA, CCS, former Program Director at our Mid Valley Outpatient Program in El Monte has accepted the challenging position of Program Director at Touchstones. Touchstones has provided social model/ 12 step residential treatment services to over 1300 adolescents and their families since opening in March of 1992. Garett, a visionary in residential treatment services, is positioned to guide the Program and the Treatment Team as the next 1300 adolescents receive services.

Patti Ochoa who has been Program Director at TOUCHSTONES since before it brought in its first three residents on March 25, 1992 will take the passion she has for providing affordable services to the persons Social Model Recovery Systems serves and explore external funding sources through media avenues, grants and endowments as the Agency’s Director of Development.

“This is an exciting time for the Agency,” Ms Ochoa commented. “Although it feels like my child has gone off to college, I have been charged with a larger responsibility of ensuring the doors of all our Programs stay open to continue providing the premier services we are known for.”

Ms Staley, although sad to leave the Program she has developed at Mid Valley, states, “I am looking forward to the new challenge of helping adolescents move in to a position where they are ready to make changes in their lives.”
Patti (on the left) hands the responsibility of Touchstones to Garett.

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Ten participants of Mid Valley Outpatient are graduating El Monte Drug Court March 14, 2013. All members of the community are invited to attend this celebration and support the hard work and commitment demonstrated by our participants.

El Monte Court House, 11234 E Valley Blvd, El Monte - Department 002-Room 106

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River Community participants and staff traveled to Los Angeles to watch staff member Sandra dance with a group of Aztec dancers. Aztec traditions and culture span entire millennia's and continue to intrigue persons of all backgrounds and ages. Bringing awareness of different cultures to the community is an integral part of the recovery process at the River Community and residents were thrilled to have been invited to join the amazing experience entitled, "Precession." Cultural events like this help to cultivate the spirit of acceptance as the staff and participants experience the different origins, cultures and backgrounds enjoyed by one another.

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As the sun peaked over the horizon, gold and yellow light shimmered in the reflection of the snow covered grounds at River Community. Participants brought snow men to life, railed with laughter and engaged in a fun snowball fight with each other and staff. The snow covered mountains in the background added to the peaceful and serene day. Participants realized a strong feeling of togetherness on the journey of recovery.
 

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The Touchstones residents’ day was recently interrupted when an unusual winter rain turned to hail. The residents were able to play in the snow and make snowballs – something many of them had never seen. The hail storm lasted long enough for them to gather the foreign substance and make several snowballs which they jokingly threw at staff and each other. One resident laughingly said, "I wish there was enough for making snow angels. I have never been a snow angel."

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January 31, 2013, was a day of celebration for this mother. This was the day when Shelley was granted reunification by a children’s court judge to be reunited with her baby girl, Grace. This resident struggled with addiction for many years and did not know if she would see the day where she could obtain sobriety and be a great mother to her children. On January 18, she decided to make a step towards positive change and a chance to get her baby back. She came into Mariposa with a glimpse of hope and determination, to learn new ways to cope and gain tools to have a better chance at long term sobriety.

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In preparation for our new Electronic Health Record, River Community Wellness Counselor Kristine used her granddaughter Jaelyn’s computer skills to help her catch up with her documentation. Here we see Jaelyn typing away (with a smile on her face like all SMRS employees) and ensuring that everything is completed in a timely manner.

Participants and staff from River Community Covina and Wellness Center recently took a trip to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour. They were all impressed at how massive it is and many folks stated the sight brought tears to their eyes. The trip was educational and humbling; everyone had an awesome experience!

2012

On January 26, the Los Angeles Poverty Department and Otis College of Art and Design Graduate School of Public Practice collaborated to produce a public art event celebrating Main Street's Cecil Hotel as the site of the 1st open AA Twelve-Step meeting in Los Angeles. The meeting took place over 70 years ago. UCEPP staff and Coalition members were part and parcel of this event, which seeks to acknowledge Skid Row as “The Biggest Recovery Community in the World.”

On January 31, Gladys Park was all set to be shuttered and closed until Coalition members, community residents and staff stepped to the forefront. Our collective efforts (calling, cajoling, emails) helped to keep the park open. The park is only one of two daytime green spaces in Skid Row. Gladys Park is adjacent to the UCEPP office and over the years we have hosted many Coalition activities there. It is also home to a host of grassroots initiatives such as The Skid Row Drifters AA Meeting (for the past15 years), the award winning Skid Row 3on3 Basketball League, and the LA Poverty Department’s annual “Festival for All Skid Row Artists”. Six residents, General Jeff, OG Man, Coach Ron Crockett, Coalition members Linda Harris and AJ, along with staff member KevinMichael Key, attended and testified at a City of LA Board of Park Commissioners’ meeting. Our comments were very well received and we anticipate that our Coalition will have a much greater role in future park programming.


 

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Mid Valley participant Marissa C celebrated her first birthday with counselor, Cynthia Lujan. Marissa is the mother of 7 children and has demonstrated a tremendous amount of perseverance and determination to complete her treatment program and parent her little ones. Congratulations and happy Birthday Marissa!      Myra H recently completed all her prerequisites and began classes to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Myra should be completing the Mid Valley Outpatient program in March and has a long list of career and academic goals. If the transformation she has made in her time at Mid Valley is any indication of things to come, Myra will be a continued success in all that she does. Her staff and peers are incredibly proud of her.

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Mariposa staff and residents volunteered their time in helping the Toys for Tots campaign. They completed toy orders and distributed toys to families and non- profit organizations across Southern California. It was a few days of hard work for everyone. The staff and residents enjoyed this opportunity to be of service during the holiday season.

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Mid Valley Outpatient participated in the DCFS Holiday Celebration at McClaren Hall last month. The event provided presents and food for families of the San Gabriel Valley with open DCFS cases. For many of the families, this was the only opportunity parents had to celebrate the holidays with their children. Mid Valley staff provided yogurts and referrals at the event.

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“The Season of Giving” was a recent theme for the ladies of Mariposa in downtown’s skid row. The residents had the opportunity to feed sandwiches, cookies and delicious coffee to those folks in need. It was a morning of gratitude, joy and excitement for staff and residents. One resident smiled and stated “To be around people who share the common disease I have and then to realize what a privilege I have to be here in treatment and getting help -- it’s amazing!”

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Touchstones staff, residents and family members kicked off the winter holiday season with our Annual Family Thanksgiving Dinner. Residents and staff prepared turkey, potatoes, gravy and rolls and parents brought salads, side dishes and desserts. The evening was filled with good food, laughter and full tummies. One six year old brother of one of our residents, when asked if he preferred white meat or dark meat when being served his meal, beamed and without a second though answered, “It doesn’t really matter. I am just happy that you are giving me my brother back.”

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The staff members of River Community Covina and the Wellness Center have been engaging in “Team Building” exercises and relaxation activities over the past couple of months. Here you see shots from Knott’s Berry Farm and our Long Beach Harbor Cruise. These retreats seem to re-vitalize a very hard working group of people who are well deserving of some fun time.

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The participants of River Community Covina and the Wellness Center put on a Halloween Party which included a costume contest, games, and lots of sweets. They continue to use the money they raise from their “Honor Store” and feel a sense of accomplishment and independence at doing so. Everyone had a great time. The costumes were original and well created. What a wonderful group we have at Covina/Wellness!

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In October, Mid Valley Outpatient participants and staff attended the Los Angeles County Annual Drug Court Awareness Picnic in Montebello. We enjoyed networking, BBQing, listening to music, and fellowship in a recovery focused afternoon. 35 people represented Mid Valley at the event. The highlight of the day was bringing home the award for best banner! Congratulations to our own Bryan A. for designing and painting our piece.

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Touchstones residents begin preparing for Halloween by carving pumpkins. Working in pairs, the pumpkin carving offers a fun time and teaches young people how to work together. First the design for the pumpkin has to be developed and agreed upon and then the carving must be negotiated and shared. There is a lot of laughter during this activity and the end results are often amazing.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The Mariposa residents recently participated in a candle light vigil to spread awareness of this issue. They met at a statue of The Lady Guadalupe and watched Aztec dancers perform before marching. They walked down Cesar Chavez St. chanting “No More Violence.” The walk ended at East Los Angeles College where survivors (including two of our residents) shared their testimony. Everyone enjoyed being a part of this vigil.

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A cast of characters from Mid Valley Outpatient took a field trip to watch a taping of Let’s Make a Deal. Staff and participants had a great day and enjoyed the event.

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Touchstones Program Director Patti Ochoa (shown here with CEO Jim O’Connell) was recently presented with the "Linda Kearns Communities in Prevention Award" by the Orange County Substance Abuse Prevention Committee for her continuing work in providing services to adolescents with alcoholism and substance abuse. Congratulations Patti!

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    The Travelers Hotel, located in skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, was first deemed a public nuisance in 1999. The property owners have consistently refused to comply with the corrective conditions imposed by the City of Los Angeles as well as other regulations designed to remedy the on-going violations plaguing the building. Rather than working to cure the nuisance, the owners instead have chosen to defend the status quo by engaging in lengthy litigation as well as other legal maneuverings.
   UCEPP first began monitoring this location at the request of the tenants in 1997, which resulted in a 1999 Zoning Administration finding that the hotel was a public nuisance. At the hearing, among the findings of fact were allegations of blatant solicitation for prostitution, drug sales and use, along with numerous instances of police intervention. While the more blatant nature of the activities has been toned down since the 1999 hearing, there has been no substantive change.
   On June 5, 2012, some 14 years after this case was first heard, the Los Angeles City Council voted to revoke the operating permit for the Travelers Hotel. Councilmember Huizar verbally recognized that the tenants are eligible for relocation funds. There are many, many issues that still need to be sorted out – among them is the reality that skid row cannot afford to lose its precious affordable housing stock. While relocation money is due to the displaced tenants, all too often it does not result in new housing as there is a scarcity of affordable housing. 
   Sadly, tactics such as those used by the owners of the Travelers Hotel only prolong a curable nuisance environment that can easily be turned around. UCEPP is partnering with the tenants as well as other community organizations to address the flaws in this process.


 

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Touchstones residents and staff got a first hand look at the space shuttle Endeavour as it flew atop its carrier plane over Touchstones just after lunch on Friday, September 21. Janet Hadley, a Touchstones counselor, was at home watching the Endeavour’s trip and called us saying the shuttle was about five minutes away. Twenty residents, staff and guests on the property witnessed the shuttle, escorted by two jets, as it travelled the final leg of its journey to Edwards Air Force Base. One resident stated, “If I hadn’t come here, I would have been loaded and I would have missed it.” Several of the teens realized the event as historic and all were grateful for the opportunity to witness.

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Mariposa residents and staff recently attended W.I.T.S. 2012, Women in the Spirit. Everyone participated in a healing event called “Weave and mend”, while enjoying the outdoors relaxing in the stream by our campsite. It was a great retreat, from the everyday hustle and bustle of treatment. It truly was a spiritual experience.
 

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Andi Gillette, Outpatient Program Coordinator, piloted the Mei Wen Ti through Long Beach Harbor during a Staff Appreciation Cruise. Touchstones staff enjoyed the day-long cruise, hospitality and lunch in a variety of ways. The day was filled with laughter and relaxation, helping to refresh both spirits and enthusiasm.

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Mariposa staff and residents recently joined together with Stepping Stones Recovery Home to have a fun filled day at Dockweiler Beach.  Staff and residents were able to fellowship, swim and enjoy a delicious lunch together. Stepping Stones and Mariposa have had a long friendship with each other and enjoy the opportunity to share stories and have fun as much as possible.

 

Four young people who participated in UCEPP...

Four young people who participated in UCEPP activities competed in the recent Nike 3-on-3 competitions held in Downtown Los Angeles at LA Live from August 3-5, 2012. They won a few games and were able to showcase their talent and test their skills against avid players from near and far. Although their team was of mixed ages, including two members under the age of 15, they competed against other adult teams and held their own. They had a great time and are determined to win a title next year! To be continued….

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Mid Valley Outpatient had a Drug Court graduation in August where 18 program participants completed this extensive 12-24 month program and had their criminal cases dismissed. The occasion was celebrated with a BBQ at the program for participants, friends, and families, followed by a moving ceremony at Rio Hondo Superior Court. Great job graduates!

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Using art as a therapy, the Kids Group at Touchstones crafted "their houses" as they talked about the roles each member of the family assumes and related their experiences within the family. The Kids Group consists of the younger brothers and sisters of Touchstones residents. The group meets weekly with a counselor and discusses many issues such as drug use and bullying and shares strategies for making healthy choices in areas of communication styles and emotion management.

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Mid Valley Outpatient participant Ramon S. is our hero of the month. While at Arcadia Park last week he heard a woman yell for help and went to assist her. A man was assaulting her and Ramon yelled at the man to let her go. The woman was able to escape and Ramon was stabbed by the perpetrator five times. During Ramon’s hospital stay he was commended for his bravery and heroism by staff and the police department. Ramon said that at the beginning, the officers and hospital staff described him as “looking like a gang member”, and he was questioned about being under the influence or having drugs in his system. Ramon’s drug test was clean. He says, “Thanks to being in this program and having the willingness to change my life, all I could think about was my wife and children. I am so appreciated towards what I have in my life today. I have filled that emptiness that I had with my Higher Power. I even received a phone call from the Arcadia Department of Public Works for a job interview. Wow!!! Life is good, and I plan to continue to be good too!” Ramon was released from the hospital a few days later, and showed up for group the following morning. Now that’s dedication!

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River Community staff and residents recently enjoyed their afternoon at Huntington Beach. The cool salty ocean air was a welcome respite from the current summer heat wave.

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A Happy Birthday celebration earlier this month for participants Phong and Reggie. Both gentlemen are participants of Rio Hondo Drug Court and will be graduating from the program in a few weeks. They both achieved one year of sobriety and celebrated with staff and peers at the program. Happy Birthday guys! Good Job!  Counselor Daniel Zatarain also achieved 6 years clean. He celebrated with the program participants with caramel cake and acknowledgements of the life changes brought by recovery. Daniel does a great job demonstrating the total life change that can happen in recovery. Great Job Daniel!

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Staff of Mary Lind Recovery Centers (sister agency of Social Model) proudly display Tinker Toy projects completed during a training on Team Building. The workshop, provided by SMRS Department of Education and Training featured segments on communication styles, team roles, and personal and professional mission statements. Mary Lind Recovery Centers has scheduled a series of future workshops to be provided at their Royal Palms Center.

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Omni Center recently joined with River Community Wellness Center at the yearly community outreach project sponsored by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department. The event was hosted at Pamela Park in Duartel; there were other locations in and around LA County where the community and its providers came together to promote wellness, education and entertainment for its residents. The local beauty school was giving free haircuts and the beautiful folklorico dancers entertained the crowd with their traditional dance routines. We had a great time and are looking forward to next years events.

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Nearly 150 Social Model employees and family members (as well as our friends at Mary Lind Recovery Centers) enjoyed the Annual Summer Picnic on July 14. Participants were treated to a delicious taco lunch prepared on site, water balloon toss competition, a scavenger hunt, volleyball tournament, raffle prizes and good old fashioned summer fun and fellowship. The Agency hosts two annual social events bringing together the diversity of all nine of our sites. After a hard fought competition, the team at Omni Center won the Social Model 2012 Volleyball Tournament defeating Touchstones in overtime. A member of the Omni Center team (probably one of the older guys) was over heard saying, “this was a lot easier 20 years ago”. Mid Valley Outpatient received the Spirit Award for simply staying on their feet and on the court until the end of the game.  Daniel Zatarain, a counselor at Mid Valley Outpatient, and his niece Bianca won the balloon toss.

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Mid Valley Outpatient participant Mary C celebrated one year clean with chocolate Tres Leches cake made by one of her peers. Participants sang happy birthday, and Mary shared her experience and the changes in her life with participants and staff. Good job, Mary!

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Proud Omni Center staff members Daniel Cole (pictured with Omni Center Director, Andrew Peckich) and Robin Day (pictured with her diploma) are recent college graduates and we congratulate them and wish them continued success. Robin received an AS Degree from Mt San Antonio College, and Daniel earned a Masters in Social Work from CSULA. These two are prime examples of what great things can be accomplished through and for recovery!!!

San Pedro Harbor

The Screening & Assessment and Marketing Departments were privileged to have a restful day on San Pedro Harbor this month. The experience helped build a stronger team and also get some time out of the office. It was once said by a wise man, “Our work is far too important to be taken serious (all the time)”. The trip was also to acknowledge the recent positive changes in our office that include new members, Lacey Webb and Carol Ivy.