The Behavioral Health program is proud to share the innovative ways we are expanding our services. This summer the behavioral health program implemented a healing garden at our Milwaukee office for counseling clients to participate with the planning, tilling, planting, weeding and most importantly to enjoy.
Studies have found that when clients participate with a therapy garden, they have several positive outcomes - looking after plants provides a sense of responsibility; gardening allows clients to be nurturers and keeps clients connected to other living things, and it helps clients relax and let go of stressor’s/emotions that they have held onto for long periods of time; gardening reminds clients to live in the present moment and of the cycle of life including death and processing through grief associated with the loss of a loved one; gardening allows clients to vent anger and aggression, relax and for regain a sense of control.
Clients have planted flowers, herbs and vegetables and have enjoyed working individually, as a team and with their therapist. Clients have shown their positivity throughout the process and most importantly regaining a sense of control in their life, processing through the concerns that brought them to counseling and enjoying participating in something positive that they take pride in.
Immigration and immigration law are constantly in the news. This is due in large part to the last election cycle, political division, proposed legislation, and world events. Our office must closely watch and react to these constant changes so that we are prepared to help the diverse groups of immigrant communities that we serve. Our office is currently made up of five attorneys, a paralegal, an office manager, a Jesuit volunteer, and a retired volunteer attorney. We also have law and university student volunteers that assist us throughout the year.
Over that past few months we have witnessed an increase of certain cases that are directly tied to current events around the world. Our work often makes the world seem like a very small place. One day you could be reading about a war-torn country in a part of the world that is very different and distant from Milwaukee and the next morning you could have an intake appointment with someone seeking asylum from that same country.
We represent clients in many different immigration processes ranging from family reunification to political asylum. We represent our clients before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and in immigration court. Over the past year we have witnessed an increase in the following types of cases.
World Refugee Day 2017
On June 20th the Milwaukee Area Refugee Consortium (MARC) hosted Milwaukee World Refugee Day at Pere Marquette Park. World Refugee Day, celebrated by the United Nations and countless civic groups around the world, was created to honor the courage, strength, and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
This year’s celebration was a great success, uniting a diverse group of individuals connected by their shared pride in calling Milwaukee home. The event featured exciting cultural performances and activities, music, and guest speakers. Mayor Tom Barrett took a moment to share with the crowd the important contributions refugees continue to make to our communities every day.
ESL & Cultural Orientation Classes
For refugees, self-sufficiency means gaining the language, life and social skills needed to attain citizenship, participate in the Milwaukee community, access community resources, and support the healthy social and academic development of their children.
MRS offers ESL and Cultural Orientation classes Monday through Thursday, covering topics such as names and addresses, family, and hygiene. Classes have anywhere from 5 to 20 students at a time, with 17 volunteers teaching, assisting, and tutoring.
We offer a computer class for refugee clients to develop proficiency with technology. Lessons range from setting basic typing skills to setting up and managing an email account and crafting email correspondences with attachments. Their confidence continues to grow each time they learn something new!
Walking Group and Crochet Classes
Every Friday a group of women get together to walk and enjoy each other’s company while getting some fresh air. Afterwards, we have a crochet class in which the clients use plastic bags to make many different items including baskets, picnic mats, and door mats. They are very creative and have learned this skill quickly, many of them utilizing the crocheting and weaving skills they had prior to resettling in the U.S. These Fridays enable the women to get out of the house to socialize and laugh with each other while honing their skills. Their self-esteem, happiness, and motivation have improved immensely since they began attending.
Many of our clients get placed in jobs very soon after arrival. Our job developers do an excellent job working with employers and finding jobs that are the right fit for each individual. Our clients who arrive here are very willing to work and want to contribute back to society as much as they can. They are extremely grateful to be here and want to do their best to provide for their families and help their new city.
Pregnancy & Parenting Support
We served 130 clients in the 2016-2017 reporting year as compared to 113 last year and 108 the year before, so we are seeing growth in this program.
Despite concentrated efforts in recent years, Milwaukee continues to rank among one of the worst cities for infant mortality. According to the City of Milwaukee’s Fetal Infant Mortality Review Report, the non-Hispanic Black infant mortality rate is nearly three times the rate of non-Hispanic White infant mortality rate.
Providing In Home Therapy Through the Aurora Better Together Fund
We were seeing an increase in the number of clients we were serving whose mental health needs were going unmet, so we wrote a grant to add a mental health clinician to our team. Thanks to the Aurora Better Together fund we were able to add Colleen, our mental health clinician, to our team in January, 2017. In addition to providing direct mental health services to clients, Colleen provides consultation and education to our home visitors. This combination of in home services and mental health services is particularly helpful and effective for low-income populations who may need assistance in navigating the health care system and face multiple social and economic demands that prevent them from accessing and engaging in treatment. Our goal is that through the counseling sessions, clients and their families will be better able to cope in a healthy way with the stressors of life and the issues that brought them to counseling. Learning better ways to deal with life's challenges leads to increased self-sufficiency and more cohesiveness in families. Speaking on an even broader scale, our hope is that we can show the effectiveness of incorporating a mental health clinician within the home visiting team and become a model for other home visitors.
Annual Mother's Day Event
Historically our domestic infant adoption program has done 5-7 infant placements a year, but in 2014, 2015, and 2016 we only did 3 each year. This year we have seen a huge increase, with 8 placements as of the end of July 2017. On July 11th we had two babies born that were placed for adoption- this was a first for me.
When most people think of our domestic infant program, they think about the adoption program at Catholic Charities, but we also do a handful of step parent and relative adoptions each year, so far in 2017 we have worked on 5 step-parent adoptions.
Annual Adoptive Family Picnic
In-Home Support and Hoarding Intervention & Treatment
How the Hoarding Intervention & Treatment Program Works
If the person is in need of our Hoarding Intervention and Treatment program, a comprehensive psychological, physical and social assessment is important in quantifying the severity of the problem. At the initial assessment the case manager obtains information on living situation, symptoms, family history and the need for clutter removal. Due to the personal nature of treatment for hoarding disorder, developing trust and boundaries between the client and our representatives is vital to lasting success.
During the second visit the case manager introduces the client and the home coach. The home coach’s duties include hands-on decluttering, advocating for the client when needed, and providing overall encouragement. During this visit, a personalized care plan is created by the case manager, home coach and client. The care plan is used to establish, track, and update specific goals, monitor ongoing case management, and overall well-being. The home coach will visit with the client, at minimum, on a weekly basis. Activities during these visits vary depending on goals they are working on.
During the third visit the client is introduced to the behavioral health professional. Our therapist will develop a treatment plan and goals that deal exclusively with the clinical aspects of the mental health attributes linked to hoarding disorder. By focusing on the source of these attributes, the therapist works toward improving the client’s emotional wellness and overall functioning. The frequency, intensity, and therapeutic approach are based on individual characteristics and severity of the issues.
The Impact of Hoarding Disorder
According to the National Council on Aging in 2017, 41% of all seniors lack transportation support. This means seniors and disabled adults cannot: get to doctor appointments, get to the pharmacy for medication, get to the store for food, cannot go to family and friend events, get to church, cannot get their hair cut or go to buy new clothes.
According to the American Psychiatric Association in 2017, hoarding disorder affects up to 6% of the adult population nationwide, or 19.6 million individuals.
To put this into perspective there are 5.5 million people who have dementia/Alzheimer’s so you are 4 times more likely to know someone who suffers from hoarding than Alzheimer/dementia.
New Hoarding Disorder Support Group
We have the new support group for families/friends of those who suffer from Hoarding disorder that meets Every 4th Thursday of the month, 6-8PM at MAO Starting September 28th, 2017.
The Supported Parenting Program expanded into Milwaukee in June. Kim Sue Lamster accepted a full-time position as a Family Support Specialist for the Supported Parenting Program in Milwaukee. She has been with the agency for 9 years and recently graduated with her MSW in May.
Carrie Knight celebrated her 1st year as a Family Support Specialist with the Supported Parenting Program and Catholic Charities in May. She's been doing amazing work with her families and for the program.
We had a Ice Cream Social in August at a local park with great participation from the families. It was a fun time for all.
Adult Day Servies
Thank You to Our Donors
Through a generous donation, the adult day services program will be entertained by Donna Nowak through the Morning Noon & Night productions from Lake Forest Park in Illinois. The Show selection that Annette has chosen is the “Big Band Tour … A History of Soldiers in Grease Paint” It will include selections of Big Band Songs, 50’s and 60’s Rock n’ Roll, and Country/ Western music. The show is a combination of karaoke and storytelling its history. This music should have her clients up and tapping, if not singing along with the music. The performance will be on Friday, October 6th at 10:00 a.m. We are really excited to hear this performance! Thanks to a recent donation to be used to tune our piano, the entertainers can play on a finely tuned piano that will continue to bring joy to our members.
Volunteers Make a Difference
For over 25 years, high school volunteers through the Archdiocese Reach Out Reach In program volunteer at the ADC every summer. The volunteers have been assisting with activities, exercise groups, lunch set up and passing out meals, as well as one on one chats with our seniors. We are grateful for all that they do and look forward to working with them every year!
Sheboygan Community Member Gives Back
At the SAO office we are fortunate to have a donor who, on two different occasions, had donated shoes for Refugee Services. We are talking about a lot of shoes for men, women and children! Her story is that she was adopted many many years ago and is just so thankful for the services that Catholic Charities had provided for the community throughout the years.
Years ago, her initial idea of giving back was in the thought of providing foot wear to the many individuals coming in from Vietnam to the Sheboygan area. Once again, a donation was made to the SAO office. The latest donation has also been such a blessing seeing that many new families are coming to the Sheboygan area with very little. The new shoes have brought so much joy, especially to the young children; which was so fortunate with the new school year just around the corner.
We at the SAO office would like to thank this individual and her husband (who would like to remain anonymous) for such a wonderful donation!