Staff Spotlight: Caminar Solano Region’s Cassan Phelps

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With a passion for mental health and wanting to expand her impact beyond our Solano region, Cassan Phelps, ASW, joined the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) earlier this year. 

At Caminar, Cassan serves as program director for the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) program. The MIOCR program provides clinical case management for clients being released from the jail and the Mental Health Collaborative Court who are experiencing mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders.The goal of this program is to assist with transition into the community and work to reduce recidivism among this population. 

Feeling that there is so much need in mental health space, especially in San Francisco, and not enough people to do it, Cassan reached out to MHASF looking for volunteer opportunities. Upon reviewing her resume with deep experience in mental health and level of education, MHASF invited Cassan to join the Board of Directors. 

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco is a peer-led social justice community dedicated to progressive mental health issues for the past 70 years. Cassan is especially drawn to the organization because of the advocacy work and that it is dominated by peer-providers; the organization is very relatable, and everyone is passionate about what they do. 

While still relatively new on the Board, she has already jumped in and serves on a sub-committee focused on new finding new funding opportunities.

Thank you, Cassan, for the time you dedicate to our clients, as well as the time you devote to helping the greater community. Your passion, energy, and commitment to mental health is inspiring!


In the News: Caminar and local agencies work together to offer clean up, support, and services to Suisun City homeless encampment

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Members of Caminar’s Solano Region team joined together with Suisun City police, a code enforcement officer, and Public Works crews to clean up a homeless encampment in the city and to reach out to those who live there. The two-day effort reached more than a dozen homeless people, who were contacted and offered resources and services.

Read more about this effort in the Daily Republic, here.

Solano Region Client Publishes Two Poetry Books

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We are delighted to share the exciting accomplishments of one of our Solano Wellness and Recovery Center clients, Cynaka Harper, who recently published two books. 

Life’s Journey is a collection of poems Cynaka has written over the course of her life, including while living with cancer and mental health concerns. Cynaka copes with mental illness through music, writing, and poetry. Her desire is that by sharing her story through poetry, it will offer hope to others going through hard times and help them remember the good times. Cynaka says, “life is a journey, and I would love to share with you my journey.”

Dreamer’s Fantasy, written under the name G.O. 284, the name Cynaka adopted for Poetry by the Bay, is her collection of fantasy poems. 

We are so proud of Cynaka for sharing her life journey and fantasies with us, and for following her dreams of being a published poet. You are truly an inspiration, Cynaka!


Solano Region Celebrates Clients Who Are Sailing To Wellness

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In recognition of Mental Health Month, our Solano region hosted the 8th Annual Cammie Awards on Thursday, May 23.

As always, this gathering highlighted clients who have reached a successful milestone and are sailing to wellness on their journeys toward recovery. Clients were recognized for inspiring achievements with housing, education, employment, sobriety, and healthy lifestyles.

Centerpieces were handmade and hand-painted sailboats created by clients at our Wellness and Recovery Center. Guests enjoyed a lovely lunch complete with delicious desserts and fun door prizes before the awards ceremony began.

We applaud the efforts of all clients as they move toward resilience, wellness, and independence. And, we delight with them in all of their accomplishments.

Special thanks to Fremont Hospital for once again generously sponsoring this special event.

Caminar Participates in Solano's Mental Health Month Celebration

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Solano County Behavioral Health hosted the 5th Annual Mental Health Month Celebration on Saturday, May 4 at the County Events Center. Caminar staff, including a contingent from our Wellness and Recovery Center, joined the celebration and brought awareness Caminar’s services in Solano County.

We extend our gratitude to the team for spending their Saturday in the community and providing outreach efforts to help our most vulnerable neighbors.

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Congratulations to our Healthy Partnerships division!

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CARF has issued three-year accreditations for the Adult Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Integrated Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment and Adult Outpatient Treatment for integrated Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment offered by our Healthy Partnerships division. These are Caminar’s first accreditations for these services.

The independent CARF evaluators identified a number of strengths, including:

  • “The staff members are competent, dedicated, experienced, and tenured. They are able to maintain a professional approach with the clients while developing a helpful and supportive relationship.”

  • “The programs give individuals pride and a sense of accomplishment, which greatly contribute to their ability to function in the future. This was especially evidenced by the graduation wall that can be seen as soon as one enters the building. The wall consists of handprints of all past clients who have graduated from the program along with an uplifting saying or piece of advice for those still in the programs.”

  • “The medical staff is vested in its clients’ recovery process. It works hard to ensure that clients are able to obtain necessary medications, which in turn helps to improve client well-being and stability.”

This outcome was the result of dedicated work on the part of our Solano Region’s leadership, the Healthy Partnerships team, and our Operations teams.

By pursuing and achieving accreditation, Caminar has demonstrated that it meets international standards for quality and is committed to pursuing excellence. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during on-site visits its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality.

Ben's Story: Wellness is Recovery

Members of our Healthy Partnerships division team.

Members of our Healthy Partnerships division team.

When Ben was 18, alcohol took over his life. Starting with drinking at parties and when hanging out with friends, soon alcohol was the answer to every question. Feeling stressed? Wanting to relax? Hanging out? Drink, drink, drink. Eventually, he found he couldn’t stop.

Ben reached out for help when he was 25. For the next seven years, he tried rehab 10 times and was in and out of the emergency room. At age 32, he hit rock bottom. He accepted that he had no control over drinking or his life.

Ben thought he was a lost cause. When introduced to our Healthy Partnerships division’s treatment programs, Ben assumed it would be like other rehabs he tried. But without other options, the nine-month program was worth a shot.

As he began the program, Ben says, “I wasn’t into it because I was so broken.” Yet he knew he was in a life-or-death situation and he kept showing up. With the guidance of his counselors, Ben gained insights into and worked through crucial issues that were behind his drinking.

Sober since October 25, 2017, Ben knows recovery is a lifelong process, with no shortcuts. Each day, he uses what he learned at Healthy Partnerships to stay on the path of wellness.


Caminar Connections Spring 2019 Edition

We are pleased to share with you our spring edition of edition of Caminar Connections, our newsletter highlighting all that our supporters help to make possible for people in our communities in need.

This newsletter shares highlights of our 2018 Annual Report, including our fiscal year 2018 statement of financials, highlights, and impact. In addition, this edition features the story of Eddrena, who with the help of Caminar’s Supported Housing Program, has finally found a safe place to call home, heal from past trauma, and move forward in health and wellness.

Thank you to all of our supporters and donors who help to provide life-changing services to individuals and families as they move toward resilience, wellness, and independence. 

Caminar Welcomes Mark Cloutier as CEO

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Mark Cloutier, MPP, MPH

After an extensive search, the Board of Directors is excited to announce that Mark Cloutier, MPP, MPH, has joined Caminar as CEO as of January 31, 2019.

Mark brings a unique set of skills and experience to his role at Caminar. With Master’s degrees in public policy and public health, he has extensive experience in leadership roles in esteemed nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the Bay Area, including Horizons Services, San Francisco Foundation, the Center for Youth Wellness, Kaiser Family Foundation, and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Mark has dedicated his career to increasing access to quality health and supportive services and improving communities’ overall health and well-being.

Mark says, “Improving the health of communities begins with understanding the role of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and social determinants of health in predisposing individuals, families and communities to poor mental health and physical health outcomes. Caminar is in a unique position to address the comprehensive needs of individuals, families and communities though our trauma informed, evidence based clinical services and our collaborations with government, nonprofit and community institutions to focus on and remedy root causes.”

Read today’s press release announcing Mark’s appointment here.

Solano WRC Engages in NAMI Peer-to-Peer

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Our Solano Wellness and Recovery Center (WRC) is an always-active and inviting peer-run drop-in center for individuals with a known or suspected mental illness.

Currently, the WRC is engaged in NAMI Peer-to-Peer. NAMI Peer-to-Peer is an eight-week educational program for adults with mental health conditions who are looking to better understand themselves and their recovery. The program is taught by trained leaders with lived experience, and includes activities, in-depth discussions and informative videos.

Caminar Solano staff and our WRC clients are delighted to be part of this training. Our gratitude to Dove McKinnon, our WRC Program Coordinator, who arranged the training series.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We hope your 2019 is off to a wonderful start.

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Your support makes so much possible for our clients, including the opportunity to express and heal themselves through the arts. This beautiful photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge was taken by a client in our Expressive Arts program, which offers group workshops with Teaching Artists, including world-renowned photographer Michael Collopy.

Bridges are rich in symbolism, emblematic of connections, progress, and transitions. This photo represents the photographer's personal journey of wellness and recovery, made with the help of Caminar, while also invoking the journeys of clients and their families across our organization, and even our own.

2018 was a year of great connections and progress for Caminar, including the acquisition of Healthy Partnerships in May and the merger with Project Ninety in June. Combined with the merger with Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley in 2017, we have greatly strengthened our capacity agency-wide to support and empower the complex needs of the most marginalized local individuals and families as they move toward resilience, wellness, and independence.

Last year, thanks to the generosity and compassion of our donors, we served more than 20,000 individuals on their journeys toward progress and positive transitions.

Throughout the year, we look forward to sharing with you more stories about the life-changing services you help to make possible. Our 2018 Annual Report will be ready next month. And, we have great transitions on the horizon, including introducing and welcoming a new CEO to Caminar soon. Stay tuned!

Please mark your calendar for our 16th Annual Circle of Support Luncheon on April 26, 2019, in Menlo Park. The event will feature David Sheff, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction.

A Look Back at 2018

With 2019 fast approaching, we look back on Caminar's impact in 2018.

Because of the generosity of our donors and funders, more than 20,000 people last year made progress in overcoming major life challenges and moved toward greater resilience, wellness, and independence. 

From all of us at Caminar and our Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley, Healthy Partnerships, and Project Ninety divisions, thank you!

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Michael Finds Resilience with the help of Integrated Health Care

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With the help of Bridges to Wellness, our integrated primary and behavioral health care program, Michael* has a new-found healthy lifestyle and is working on remaining stable and resilient through life’s up and downs.

Over a year ago, Michael, who is in recovery for severe mental illness, was connected to Bridges to Wellness by his mental health case manager. He received an alarming wake-up call when the Bridges to Wellness nurse reviewed with him the initial wellness lab test results. In addition to having extremely high levels of cholesterol, Michael was pre-diabetic. Smoking 40 cigarettes a day also was affecting his health.

Motivated by the test results, Michael decided to make changes in his life. With the support of the nurse, he set wellness goals and created a plan. Encouraged by the Bridges to Wellness team, Michael began taking daily walks, which he found reduced his urge to smoke. Through the program’s smoking cessation group, he learned effective strategies, connected with peer support, and eventually quit smoking completely.

Using his savings on cigarettes, Michael joined a local gym, where he works out most days. Now he is maintaining a healthy body weight and his cholesterol and glucose levels are within a healthy range.

Michael is feeling, breathing, and looking better now than he can remember. His own determination and resilience, along with support from our mental health and Bridges to Wellness program professionals, have helped him enjoy a healthier quality of life.

With philanthropic investment, we aim to expand these integrated health services to reach more clients in San Mateo and Solano counties and to add services in Santa Clara and Butte counties.

* Name changed to protect client privacy


Solano Region’s Coordinated Entry Program Honored

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Last week, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, a Berkeley-based nonprofit organization committed to empowering homeless and struggling members of the community to transform their lives, honored our Solano Region’s Coordinated Entry program.

Berkeley Food and Housing Project hosted their first Roads Home Appreciation Luncheon to thank community partners for their dedication and hard work in assisting the homeless veteran community and ongoing collaboration with the Roads Home program.

The recognition of our Solano team was offered as a reflection of the service and support the Coordinated Entry teams provide to the Solano community.

Thank you, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, for the great honor!

Caminar Connections Fall 2018 Edition

We are thrilled to share our fall 2018 edition of Caminar Connections, our newsletter highlighting all that our supporters help to make possible for people in our communities in need.

This edition features the inspiring story of Sam, who flourished in classes offered through our Supported Education program and continues to move towards his goals with the help of his Caminar team.

The newsletter also highlights school and youth services offered through our Family & Children Services of Silicon Valley and Healthy Partnerships divisions.

Thank you to all of our supporters and donors who help to provide life-changing services to individuals and families as they move toward
resilience, wellness, and independence. 

One Warm Coat and Caminar Will Make a Difference

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Caminar is grateful to be included as one of One Warm Coat’s registered agencies to distribute coats to people who we serve who are in need. With colder weather coming, a warm coat can help make a warmer, healthier winter for someone in your local community.

Does your organization want to make a difference this season? Consider holding a coat drive! One Warm Coat makes it easy and Caminar would love to partner with you to distribute the coats to those in need. Check out all the resources you need to hold your own drive in six easy steps.

One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that works to provide a free, warm coat to any person in need. One Warm Coat supports individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country by providing the tools and resources needed to hold a successful coat drive. Coats are distributed in the communities where they were collected, to children and adults in need, without charge, discrimination or obligation. Since One Warm Coat’s inception in 1992, they have worked with our volunteers to host more than 27,000 coat drives and have given away more than 5 million coats.

We look forward to helping those in need and warming our community this winter...one coat at a time.

For more information on how to partner with Caminar on a coat drive, please contact our Development Department at 650.513.1509 or development@caminar.org.     

Art and Inspiration on Display at the Solano WRC

Our Solano Region's Wellness and Recovery Center (WRC) is a peer-run drop-in center for individuals with a known or suspected mental illness. Located adjacent to Caminar’s medication clinic and case management services in Vallejo, the center provides an array of services to promote wellness and ongoing recovery including education, enrichment, and support groups. 

The art group allows clients to experiment with and explore the healing power of artistic expression. The walls display vibrant and inspirational art that showcases our clients' talent and their journeys toward wellness, resilience, self-love, and self-care.

Healthy Partnerships Now Offers Youth Services

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Start the new school year off on the right foot! 

Healthy Partnerships now offers comprehensive youth mental health and substance abuse services in both our Fairfield and Vacaville locations. 

We offer education and group processing in a safe, thoughtful, and compassionate environment for adolescents who are struggling with:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Anger management
  • Substance abuse
  • Addiction

For more information, please visit the Youth Services page on our website or call us today at 707.425.1799.

Solano County is Stronger Together

Last week, members of our Solano County team participated in the Solano County Health and Social Services 2nd Annual Community Partners Networking Event that showcased the theme  Stronger Together.

Lori Weisenburg and Chuck Anderson of our newly acquired Healthy Partnerships division represented Caminar and enjoyed engaging with the community and sharing information about our programs and services. 

7th Annual Cammie Awards Highlights Client Achievements in Wellness and Recovery

In recognition of Mental Health Month, our Solano Region hosted the 7th Annual Cammie Awards. The event shines a light on the achievements of individuals we are privileged to serve, individuals who are empowered on their journeys of recovery and who are blooming in recovery.

We were delighted to honor our clients with a special lunch, complete with an abundance of fun and exciting door prizes. Along with a representative from Supervisor Hannigan’s office, we presented clients with awards recognizing their accomplishments in wellness and recovery. Awards included Clean and Sober Lifestyle for One Year or More, Achievement in Healthy Lifestyle, Employed for 90 Days or More, Best Community Support, and more.

We are grateful to Fremont Hospital for sponsorship of the Cammies.

Stay tuned for even more photos coming soon!