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The Coalition - ERIE COUNTY ANTI STIGMA COALITION

Membership

Does your organization, church, temple, or community group want to combine forces with our organization? Do you individually want to engage with us to stop the stigma of mental illness? Please consider becoming a member of our Coalition by completing our membership form.

It is going to take a massive community effort to move the needle on stigma, please become a part of the solution. Questions? Please contact Max Donatelli, Chairperson, at maxjoydonatelli@gmail.com.

CURRENT MEMBERS

Niagara Falls Public Library

Our mission is to provide the citizens of Niagara Falls with quality service, access to excellent collections, assistance in using emerging technologies, and a pleasing, safe environment.

Libraries provide a free space where individuals of all ages can learn and explore without the fear of judgment. As a vital part of the Niagara Falls community, we want to empower our patrons to educate themselves about mental health and know that we are committed to ending the stigma.

Sarah PotwinDirector

Via Evaluation, Inc.

Via Evaluation, Inc. (VIA) provides tailored evaluation and data consultation services to mental health, social service, education and other providers. Our team of highly qualified and passionate staff helps organizations make data informed decisions to fulfill their mission. We have provided expert, timely, and responsive services to clients since 1998.

Almost everyone has experienced their own or loved ones’ mental health challenges, yet people struggling to maintain positive mental health often feel they are alone in this struggle. Acknowledging that we aren’t alone in these challenges encourages and allows for more open dialogue, confronting negative stereotypes, and enhancing services and support structures so people receive the help they need, when they need it.

Komani Lundquist Cedano | CEO & Co-owner

Person Centered Services

Person Centered Services is a Care Coordination Organization serving over 17,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 counties. Care coordinators work on a “Life Plan” tailored to every one of an individual’s needs. We work with dozens of organizations and hundreds of providers, so people can meet all of their goals.

Mental illness has no boundaries. The team at Person Centered Services is committed to uniting with our community to help each and every person break the silence and get the care and supports necessary to a fulfilling life.

Bridget Bartolone | CEO

DePaul

DePaul is a progressive, private not-for-profit organization founded in 1958 that provides services in the areas of addiction prevention and support services, affordable housing, mental health residential, senior living communities, support programs, and vocational programs.

Living Opportunities of DePaul provides housing, support, advocacy, and recovery-oriented supports to adult individuals in 7 Western New York Counties. In Erie County alone, DePaul serves about 600 adults at any given time. Through the years, we have helped thousands of individuals lead normal and productive lives while fighting stigma at the same time. Many years ago, it was nearly impossible to locate a mental health residential program in Erie County. Although it is still not an easy feat, communities have become much more receptive to our presence. This is good news, but we still have a long way to go. Through the years, DePaul has lost some of its consumers as a result of suicide. In addition, we lost two very dear employees to this same fate. We believe that our ongoing battle to fight stigma will be the key to helping people obtain the help they need. This will not only save lives, but it will improve the quality of lives for those who get help.

Christopher Syracuse | Executive Director/Vice President

Erie County Medical Center Corporation

The ECMC Corporation was established as a New York State Public Benefit Corporation and since 2004 has included an advanced academic medical center with 573 inpatient beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care services and Terrace View, a 390-bed long-term care facility. ECMC is Western New York’s only Level 1 Adult Trauma Center, as well as a regional center for burn care, behavioral health services, transplantation, medical oncology and head & neck cancer care, rehabilitation and a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo. Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan. 

ECMC is committed to ending the stigma of mental illness and we join the dedicated partners of the Anti-Stigma Coalition to advocate for our friends, neighbors and relatives who face this challenge in their lives. At the Regional Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health, ECMC’s empathetic caregivers work to assist patients with mental illness and various psychiatric issues. From emergency and inpatient care to ambulatory services, including our new Help Center that provides urgent care service for walk-in mental health treatment of adults in crisis who do not require psychiatric emergency treatment or inpatient care, ECMC joins the continuum of care providers in our community to provide access to quality, compassionate care.

Thomas J. Quatroche, Jr., Ph.D | President & Chief Executive Officer

Mental Health Peer Connection

Mental Health Peer Connection, one of the family of agencies of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. is a peer-driven advocacy organization, dedicated to facilitating self-directed growth, wellness, and choice, through genuine peer mentoring. We serve those with Behavioral Health issues stay out of institutions, successfully live in the community, and obtain real employment.

Since 1994, Mental Health Peer Connection, has been fighting for the rights and community inclusion for those suffering from emotional distress and mental illness. Too often we see the discrimination and mortality of those prevented by stigma from equal community access. MHPC is a change agent for the people we serve. MHPC would like to join forces with the Erie County Anti-stigma coalition to increase the rights and community inclusion of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Maura Kelley | Director

WNY WALKS!

We are an organization that promotes healthy communities. We believe working together and building social capital is a strategic way to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Phil Haberstro

Community Veterans Engagement Board

CVEB of WNY is an advocacy organization (with over 25 member organizations) working in collaboration with academia, business, trades, not-for-profits and the Veterans Administration to insure a continuum of care for our military veterans and families. We seek to provide a quality education, gainful employment and excellent health care for them in WNY.

PTSD is a major problem in the military and veteran community. The stigma associated with seeking help can be detrimental to one’s military career and has further negative implications when moving to veteran’s status. One of the critical missions of the CVEB is to proactively work on breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness that our society does not understand.

Patrick W. Welch, PhD | Board Chair

Buffalo City Swim Racers

The mission of Buffalo City Swim Racers is developing character with a commitment
to excellence, families and neighborhoods while creating lifelong swimmers.

Buffalo City Swim Racers is pleased to partner with the Erie County Anti-Stigma
Coalition. The importance of bringing the discussion of mental illness into the light
affects everyone. We look forward to being a part of this tremendous effort.

Michael F. Switalski | Executive Director

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Western NY Chapter

AFSP raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.

AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies: funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide in our mission. At AFSP, we believe in the importance of having a #RealConvo about mental health and are thrilled to join the coalition’s efforts in doing just that!

Missy Stolfi | Area Director

Population Health Collaborative

We are a regional population health collaborative, we connect diverse groups of people to align resources and expertise. Together, we actively work towards improving population health in Western New York.

Sunshine is often the best medicine.” Being more open, candid and honest about mental health is an important beginning. As we accept the fact that “illness is illness” we can make it easier for people to get the help they need, no different from any other healthcare, and improve people’s lives and the community as a whole. We are proud to be a “Lets Talk” and stop the stigma movement member.

John Craik | Executive Director

CCNY Inc.

CCNY supports organizations seamlessly integrate measurement and management, program and practice evaluation, and quality improvement strategies into their organization to support programs and services that result in positive outcomes for their clients and the community.

People dealing with mental health challenges should know they are not alone, help is available and recovery is possible. Our organization does not provide direct service, but is intimately linked with the mental health community. We commit to helping to spread the word beyond the traditional “choir” by sharing the website and asking other employers and affiliations of ours who may not be directly involved in behavioral health care to take the pledge and consider becoming a member as well.

Heidi Milch | Executive Director

Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC)

Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC) is located on Buffalo’s West Side. It is a multi-generational, multicultural, multilingual, welcoming and inclusive to all congregation. Grounded in the Congregational tradition, Pilgrim-St. Luke’s is the home for many community-based organizations and serves as a driver for social change through its ministry.

Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ (UCC) is fully committed to being an inclusive community where all are welcome. We have received the designation from the UCC Mental Health Network as being a WISE (Welcoming Inclusive Supportive and Engaged) congregation where individuals living with mental health challenges are fully accepted into every aspect of our ministry, from church leadership to offering our weekly support group as well as acknowledging those in need of assistance in our “prayers of the people.”

Rev. Nancy Rosas

WNYHeroes

The mission of WNYHeroes is to provide veterans, members of the armed services, and the widows and children of deceased veterans with access to essential services, financial assistance and resources that support their lives and sustain their dignity.

As a Veterans group and running a service dog program called Pawsitive for Heroes, we are constantly out speaking about the effects and changes our program has and continues to make for those dealing with PTSD, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and more. We are asked to speak in schools of all levels, county and state conferences etc.

Christopher M. Kreiger | President / CEO

Empower

Empowering the people we serve to live the lives they choose through the following supports: Children’s Academy preschool education, housing, health clinics and job training and day programs.

Our goal is to ensure better health, personal growth, more independence, and community involvement. Together we EMPOWER individuals to lead their best possible lives.

Mental illness is not a choice. It’s a fact of life. We need to stop treating people with a mental health diagnosis as if they’re less worthy of love and support. Every person has dignity and value. We believe in talking about mental illness with dignity and respect.

Jeff Paterson | Chief Executive Officer

People Inc.

People Inc. is Western New York’s leading non-profit human services agency. Through a variety of services, including residential, employment, community outreach, health care and recreation programs, we help families and people with disabilities, as well as seniors, live more healthy, independent and productive lives.

All stigma divides. Let’s create a better world right now, together.

Rhonda Frederick | CEO

Community Services for Every1

Community Services for Every1 partners with individuals of all abilities to reach their fullest potential, protecting their rights and promoting their independence and inclusion in our community.

We need to join together as a community to end the stigma on mental illness. Far too often people do not speak about the struggles they are facing because society has embraced silence over treatment. Through partnerships and education, we can end this behavior.

Mental illness does not discriminate. Individuals of all abilities can be diagnosed with a mental illness. Many of the individuals we work with at Community Services for Every1 have a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and either an intellectual or developmental disability. Receiving proper treatment with a dual diagnosis is especially difficult because of a lack of understanding, an inability to treat the dual complexities present, and sometimes an added obstacle of an inability to communicate clearly. Our organization was built on the foundation of understanding and embracing individuals who struggle with a dual diagnosis. As we continue to grow, I am proud to say we strive to help as many people living with these struggles as possible.

I am proud to partner to end the stigma. I believe by working together we can get that much closer to helping people break the silence and receive proper treatment.

Mindy Cervoni | President & CEO

Baker Victory Services

Baker Victory Services (BVS) is made up of nearly 1,000 professionals in WNY working side-by-side to carry on a legacy of caring that stretches back 160 years. Baker Victory’ mission is to prepare, support and empower clients, students, children, youth and families to achieve their life goals.

Bringing awareness to the realities of mental illness is the priority of Baker Victory Services.  Providing support, advocacy and assistance is one of our most important endeavors.

Cindy Lee | Chief Executive Officer

Endeavor Health Services

Endeavor Health Services is a public service, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the development and maintenance of a comprehensive system of accessible and effective services dedicated towards improving the emotional wellness and behavioral health of residents of Western New York.

Endeavor is committed to the education of our community about mental illness. Our mission is to promote wellness and recovery. Reducing stigma, misinformation and fear about mental illness is a priority for Endeavor.

Elizabeth L. Mauro LCSW-R | Chief Executive Officer

Richardson Olmsted Campus

One of Buffalo’s most iconic buildings and a National Historic Landmark, the 145-year-old Richardson Olmsted Campus is being renewed after years of neglect. Designed by great American architect H.H. Richardson and the famed landscape team of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the building incorporated a system of enlightened treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Today, the Richardson Olmsted Campus is home to one of the largest historic preservation projects in the nation. Since 2006, the nonprofit Richardson has been hard at work bringing the site back to life after decades of neglect.

Mental health awareness is a important part of the past, present, and future of the Richardson Olmsted Campus. Our campus began in the 1870s as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, built according to a system of progressive treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. We are proud to join the Anti-Stigma Coalition as we preserve the unique history of our National Historic Landmark and spark important conversations with our community about bias, stigma, and hope.

Mark Mortenson | Executive Director

SUNY Erie

SUNY Erie is a three-campus institution serving over 20,000 students yearly. SUNY Erie is the second largest college in Western New York and the number one choice for area high school graduates.  SUNY Erie offers 100 degree and certificate programs in the areas of Health Sciences, Business & Public Service, Liberal Arts, and Engineering & Technologies while achieving an overall job placement and transfer rate of over 90%.

We are excited about the infinite potential that joining this campaign will afford our students, faculty, staff, and community constituents.  The Anti-Stigma campaign is changing the conversation surrounding mental illness by replacing silence and stigma with acceptance and support.

Nuriyah Clark, Ed.D. | Vice President for Student Affairs

Hamburg Central School District

The Hamburg Central School District is dedicated to educating modern thinkers who create, care, solve and discover. Its schools are places of innovative teaching and active learning.
The district has an enrollment of about 3,480 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, housed in four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. It has approximately 650 employees, the majority of whom are teachers. The district is suburban and semi-rural in nature, covering about 31 square miles in the Towns of Hamburg, Boston, Eden and Orchard Park, including the Village of Hamburg.

Membership in the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition demonstrates that we are committed to “walking our talk” of supporting the mental and emotional health of our students, their families, and our staff.

Michael Cornell | Superintendent

KKPR Public Relations & Marketing

KKPR is a Western New York public relations company providing crisis communications, writing, editing and media services to non-profit and corporate clients. KKPR delivers solid results for clients by providing high-quality customer service and creative communications solutions

Mental health is a critical component of a person’s overall health. People should not hesitate to speak up or because the stigma of mental illness causes shame or embarrassment. Join the Conversation is making a real difference – educating people, encouraging everyone to use the right words and sharing stories of hope. We are proud to support the Coalition in this important work.

Karen Karaszewski, APR | President

Spectrum Health & Human Services

Spectrum Health and Human Services provideseasy-to-access services including drug addiction counseling, home health care coordination, housing assistance and more. Many of our services are available at our centralized community-based locations across Western New York. Spectrum also offers integrated treatments at satellite locations within medical campuses across Erie and Wyoming Counties. With a large qualified team, Spectrum is available to meet clients’ needs immediately with our same-day and walk-in clinics.

Spectrum is very proud to join our colleagues in our fight to eliminate stigma!

Bruce Nisbet | CEO

BestSelf Behavioral Health

BestSelf Behavioral Health is the largest community-based behavioral health organization serving children, adolescents and adults with mental health and substance use disorders in WNY. BestSelf offers treatment and rehabilitation services that promote self-sufficiency, wellness and recovery. 

BestSelf believes that every individual is unique and recovery from mental illness is possible. Often the stigma related to mental illness is a significant barrier to people seeking help.  BestSelf supports the efforts of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition to provide education and advocacy to combat stigma in our community. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the one in five people who have a mental illness.

Howard K. Hitzel, Psy.D | President/CEO 

Help Me Grow WNY

Help Me Grow WNY enables young children to thrive by linking families and caregivers to information and community resources on child development and parenting, providing personalized connections to local services that meet individual needs and creating partnerships with human service agencies, educators, and health care professionals that strengthen families.

Partners of Help Me Grow WNY work to improve the health, well-being, and learning of young children. We recognize that children’s positive development depends upon strong relationships with the adults in their lives. Ending the stigma around mental illness enables families and caregivers to access mental health supports they may need to provide the best possible environments for children. Our community must value and support its children’s mental health—and also the mental health of those who care for them!

Lynn Pullano | Director

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. is a one stop, federally qualified health center whose mission is to provide comprehensive preventative care to underserved communities regardless of their ability to pay. Established in 1999, we expanded to four sites: Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Niagara Falls and Lockport. We have a patient base of about 19,000 throughout Erie and Niagara County and offer a variety of services including adult and pediatric medical, dental, 340b pharmacy, and behavior health. Most recently, we have added physical therapy to the list of services available at our Buffalo location.

The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB) is a safety net for a diverse population in need of access to comprehensive primary care health care. A significant number live at or below the poverty line who are Medicaid and Medicare eligible. Many have been negatively impacted by stereotypes and stigmas and are eligible for protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on age, race, national origin, religious beliefs, gender and sexual orientation, disability (mental or physical), pregnancy and veteran status. It is imperative for us to be at any table where discussions around stigma are being had because our mission is to serve those who typically must endure it.

LaVonne Ansari | CEO at Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.

Restoration Society, Inc.

Restoration Society, Inc. is a non-profit, peer-operated agency. We provide a variety of same-day, community based, recovery oriented services for individuals with behavioral health conditions and/or housing needs. Our rehabilitative services include: Employment, housing, young adult clubhouse, Recovery Center, Homeless Drop-In, outreach, parenting support, resource linkage, HCBS, and benefits advisement. We provide services 365 days per year and all can be accessed through one of our program locations or in the community. All services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each customer.

I am joining the Anti-Stigma Coalition to partner as united force against stigma. Being part of a passionate group, sharing ideas and resources to discover innovative ways to combat public and self-stigma will impact the isolation, despair, and service delivery system ultimately improving quality lives for those affected by mental health conditions through gaining accesses to needed services and resources.

Nancy Singh, M.A., C.R.C. | Chief Executive Officer

Senior Services of Erie County

The mission of the Department of Senior Services of Erie County is to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity, and quality of life.

The CDC estimates that 20% of older adults will experience a mental health concern. However, the stigma associated with a diagnosis can prevent an older person from participating in activities, programs and services that help to maintain independence and well being in the community. As the Department of Senior Services strives to promote healthy lifestyles and enhance the quality of life with older adults, we must address barriers in partnership with the community. By joining the Anti-Stigma campaign, we can help older adults to have the conversation that has been off limits, and engage them through the many beneficial programs the Department has to offer.

Timothy Hogues | Commissioner of Senior Services, Erie County

Horizon Health

We envision a future where all individuals who need and want help can easily access Horizon’s effective health and recovery services. Using emerging technologies and best practices, we will provide innovative services beyond the boundaries of WNY. In this future, Horizon is widely recognized as a great employer, having the highest quality staff and providing state of the art effective services.

I think it is important for Horizon to be a member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition because so many people are affected by behavioral health disorders but they are ashamed to seek help. I know people can feel better and can improve their life with treatment.

Anne Constantino | President and CEO

Say Yes To Education Buffalo

Our vision is that every student can graduate high school and college when given the proper supports, resources, and opportunities.

Say Yes Buffalo has joined the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition because its mission falls in line with the work of our organization. At Say Yes Buffalo, we work to remove barriers that prevent children from being their best and support their academic and personal growth by organizing wrap-around supports, such as mental health counseling, access to healthcare and free legal services and more. We are proud to partner with Erie County on this initiative.

David Rust

Child and Family Services

For more than 140 years, Child and Family Services has dedicated its resources to meet the needs of children and families. One of Western New York’s oldest human service agencies, Child and Family Services fosters safe and healthy environments for children and families in local homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

I work in a business serving people who by many accounts are unjustly viewed as “broken,” as lacking somehow, as “problems” – as burdens of society. Some present with mental health issues and carry the weight, the stigma that relegates them to objects of pity, of fear, and of contempt.

Yet, each person we serve has a unique story to tell – many of these stories are not pretty, nevertheless most are hopeful chronicles of redemption, of recovered lives because somebody cared. I am mindful that anyone of us is one traumatic, life-changing event from needing the types of supports we often consign to “others.”

I am committed to world in which mental healthcare services are deemed a basic human right and it begins with supporting the work of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. Join the Conversation!

Francisco M. Vasquez, Ph.D. | President and CEO

Peers in Cayuga County

The corporation is formed for the charitable purpose of aiding persons over the age of 18, living in Cayuga County, who have been diagnosed with mental illness and who request recovery based activities that will enhnce their social and practical life skills toward their becoming better community members.

Our organization, Peers in Cayuga County, helps people over the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with some kind of mental illness. Our staff, all volunteers, live with mental health issues as well and understand what it can feel like when people know you have such issues and treat you differently than the people they thing don’t have mental illness. I, personally, have been working on getting people to recognize the fact that just because someone has been diagnosed with mental health issues, doesn’t make them dumb, violent, or dependent on others. Even though I am the President of this organization, I have had board members from different groups treat me as if I didn’t know what I was talking about when I speak. On one occasion, I did a presentation about our organization to let everyone on that board know exactly what I am capable of and what other people with mental health issues are capable of. After that, I have been treated as a respected member of that board. I want to help fight stigma in as many ways as possible. I believe the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition is on the right track to fight stigma and I want our organization to be part of that fight.

Margaret Phinney | President

Deaf Access Services

According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), “people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing1 are an underserved cultural and linguistic population within the nation’s mental health system”. However , studies show that due to higher rates of oppression, isolation and even abuse, Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals may experience mental health concerns at higher rates than their hearing counterparts. Deaf Access Services supports the efforts of the Anti-Stigma Campaign to address systemic barriers to care, through increased culturally and linguistically affirmative services, and to educate the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community about the symptoms of mental health and ways to access supports in the community.

Pamela Kefi | Executive Director | Deaf Access Services

Parent Network of Western New York

Parent Network of WNY is a not-for-profit agency that provides education and resources for families of individuals with special needs (birth through adulthood) and for professionals.

Parent Network of WNY provides 1-on-1 Support and education through resources, workshops and support groups to assist families of individuals with disabilities to understand their disability and navigate the support service system.

Parents can lead the way in opening communication with their children’s mental illness.

Susan Barlow | Executive Director | Parent Network of WNY

NAMI

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Buffalo & Erie County is pleased to become an organizational member of the Anti-Stigma Coalition and to represent the voices of so many families who continue to combat stigma. Eliminating stigma is one of NAMI Buffalo’s key goals and our participation with the Coalition is a natural fit. We look forward to making progress together.

Michele Brooks | Executive Director | National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Buffalo & Erie County