Anonymous donation to help Franklin Recovery Center

REENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thousands of dollars have been donated to the Franklin Recovery Center in Greenfield. The $5,000 donation is coming from an anonymous donor, and will be used to help fund treatments for trauma.

Read Article on WWLP

The Big Story Behind the Little n

Welcome to our new periodic e-newsletter, bhnToday. We hope to stay in regular contact with our stakeholders about the important work we do in the communities we serve. Over the last year-and-a-half, BHN has merged with The Carson Center and expanded to provide services in Franklin County. With so much change and opportunity, management embarked on a new communications program to inform and enlighten those with whom we work. (Read PDF) (Read Full Story )



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African Americans Share their Lives and Histories in Celebration of Black History Month at BHN

In celebration of Black History Month, Behavioral Health Network (BHN) wishes to honor our African American employees and volunteers by sharing some of their stories and highlighting the impact their contributions have made in the Western Massachusetts community. Their stories tell about the ways they have learned to be resilient, about wisdom gained in recovering from adversity, and how they use lessons learned in their own lives to encourage well-being in others. For open and reflective sharing, we give thanks to O’Rita Swan, a returning BHN board member, Shanika Lewis, BHN Billing Supervisor, and Darrell Johnson, BHN Crisis Clinician.

Imagine a world where every person has resilience: the strength and ability to pull through difficulties, and recovery: the return to a more harmonious and peaceful state. Sadly for many people, this idea seems unimaginable. Hopelessness crosses over every race and ethnicity: it is a human condition. Facing the challenges which are at the root of hopelessness requires courage, determination…and help—that is culturally appropriate and responsive. BHN serves our communities in impactful and meaningful ways through partnerships with people whose experiences and professional contributions celebrate resiliency and recovery in culturally appropriate ways. In serving our local black community, BHN is employing a culturally diverse workforce and engaging the collective wisdom and governance of an increasingly diverse board of directors. Resiliency and recovery are the two complementary concepts at the heart of our work and in the hearts of our employees and volunteers.

During the interviews, conversations revealed a core of resiliency in each person, developed from early life experiences and honed throughout the years. 

O’Rita Swan grew up in Springfield in the 1960s, went to a nurturing neighborhood school and was surrounded by a closely knit and loving family. There she thrived. During middle school, O’Rita was chosen for busing to a school across town (it was the intent to have her bring diversity to predominantly white school). She looks back at middle school as a place unprepared to receive her, a system where people did not understand who she was, only that she was different, and so she was not appreciated for her talents and abilities. She was dismissed as someone not able to succeed. Again, in college, when she participated in an urban education program for young black students, she became marginalized by her assigned academic advisor who told her, “You people come and most don’t graduate”. 

Shenika Lewis grew up in the north end of Hartford, CT into a single-mother family with one brother and two sisters. The context of a difficult upbringing in the midst of alcohol abuse and poverty taught Shenika resiliency. She was witness to the social inequalities that came to those living in her world and learned the importance of standing firm and fighting to get needs met.  Shenika’s potential was recognized by one of her teachers, who  recruited her into a special school program which included computers, sewing and fashion design. The things she learned in that program continue to be important components of her life and interests today. 

Darrell Johnson is a native of New York City, born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn in a racially diverse neighborhood. Growing up with a rich exposure to a large variety of cultures and languages, Darrell experienced distress as he moved into adult life discovering that not all people could appreciate and embrace the richness that a diverse community has to offer. Darrell learned to respond to this rigidity of mind and desire for cultural isolation by developing a resilient mindset, adapting to the environment, and understanding that at times he would have to work very hard to prove himself, even though that should not be necessary.

All three of these remarkable people have something powerful in common, in spite of, or maybe because of experiencing racial inequality; all three have made deliberate choices to respond to difficult circumstances in strengthening and affirming ways. They all developed resiliency through having to prove their worth - even though their worth was intrinsic - and this resiliency created a sensitivity to peoples’ needs to have their intrinsic worth affirmed no matter what their lives or circumstances. They all have developed value systems which equip them to be powerful forces for good in the lives they touch.

O’Rita has become a successful educator and presently serves as Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club Family Center. She encourages her employees to see children as they are: smart, capable, and having the answers inside of them to learn to become wise. As part of O’Rita’s own strength and determination, she is a strong advocate for the rights and needs of children, many of them African American, as she guides them through their own unique and oftentimes challenging circumstances. She provides the right mix of opportunities and encouragement to help children reach inside themselves and draw out their own strengths for success.

Shenika, a single mother of two daughters, has worked hard to establish her career to provide for her children. At each job she’s held, she has shown her quick intelligence and been given increasingly more complex work and greater responsibility.  She relies on her deep Christian faith to strengthen her and keep moving forward for her children.  She is deeply admired and respected by her colleagues and is involved in developing a community women’s group called Women Empowering Women to support teen girls and young women in her community as they navigate some of the same issues she experienced at their age.

And Darrell, a BHN clinician responding to persons in crisis in our community, has learned that in order to help people he must be grounded in his own culture so that he has a solid footing as he reaches out to others. He believes that by being empathetic and open in his approach, he is able to build trust and reduce the imbalance that can happen in situations where he is the care provider in a chaotic situation. He is able to empower others to make choices based in their strengths by not being defensive or directing. This is a powerful resiliency. 

A diverse and respected volunteer and work force is something to celebrate. BHN is fortunate to have various races, cultures and ethnicities representing our organization in Western MA. BHN is our employees, community partners and volunteers. BHN is the work we do in the community and the people whose lives we impact for important change. BHN stands for resiliency and recovery. Our employees use their own resiliency and recovery to help guide others to discover their own. We appreciate our black employees, their wisdom and professionalism, as they impact our community, as they use their unique perspectives to enhance opportunities for others in their own culture as well as the community at large. So we honor them this February during Black History Month.

BHN 5K/2M Run/Walk raises $6,000 for The Village, a substance abuse residential program for young women and their children

November 2nd dawned as a chilly Autumn morning, with damp in the air and the earthy smells of fallen leaves.  In this seasonal mood, 200 people came out to Forest Park, many in shorts and sneakers, to support seven young mothers and their little ones living at the Village, a family-centered, residential treatment program for young African American moms with a substance use disorder working to live with their children in drug- and alcohol-free lives.

One hundred fifty-eight participants stood at the starting line, runners in front, walkers in the back (including many Village moms and their babies in strollers), to compete in a fun 5 kilometer run/2 mile walk.  After the race, everyone gathered with their raffle tickets hoping to win one of the 20 goody baskets which had been donated by a variety of BHN friends and employees.  Ms. Carol Pacinella, BHN Crisis Clinician, was the big prize winner taking home the donated iPad!

The post-race celebration included delicious and healthy snacks, donated by Costco and Big Y , dancing to DJ sounds by Dale Desmarais, lots of laughter and gratitude to those who sponsored the event, participated in the run/walk and volunteered to make the morning a triumphal success.  Many thanks to Claudia Muradian-Brubach for her tireless energy, leadership and vision and to everyone who joined BHN in celebration of our 75th Anniversary and in support of this fabulous BHN residential program where young women who are facing untold challenges learn to gather their unique strengths to overcome a life of substance dependency.

The Village is a residential SA treatment program, and yet it is so much more.  Young moms gain skills to independently manage their daily lives, and learn to desire and seek safety and nurturing.  Discovering their inner strengths, some for the first time. helps them develop confidence as women, mothers and community members.  They develop these skills by increasingly taking more responsibility for their lives, spending time with family members during weekly Sunday dinners and organized activities like bowling, roller skating, beach excursions, and pumpkin picking.