Friday, December 15, 2017

Tis the season at Vincent House

Vincent House Holiday Party

 In the midst of fundraising, winter coming and our daily work, members and staff of Vincent House took time to produce a holiday party on Friday December 8, 2017. A soundtrack of Holiday tunes kept the atmosphere festive. The happy time was captured by many in the photo booth, and a guessing jar filled with bells provided the fun that comes with a friendly competition.

 The awesome Vincent House culinary unit prepared pork sliders, turkey meatballs, a cheese plate, fruit, cookies, and brownies with strawberry crème Santa Claus hats for all to enjoy. There was also a delicious punch and homemade eggnog. A slide show of gifs showcasing the holiday spirit brought a lot of smiles and laughter to the party. The excitement surrounding the holiday gathering was good for everyone’s overall morale.

Members said preparing for the party put them in a good mood. That was evident in the kitchen, a place where everyone seemed to find their way to at some point, while preparations were in full swing. Asked about that special excitement in the kitchen, Sonya H. said, “The kitchen is the heart and soul of a home. Chef Jeannine added, “And we put our heart and soul into our cooking!” Friends and family members along with Vincent House regulars chatted and socialized in the holiday atmosphere and wished each other a merry season. We think it’s fair to say the party was a hit!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

At Vincent House, our primary focus is supporting mental illness recovery through meaningful work. Through that process, we also build community. As a community, we come together on holidays, providing a place for members, staff and their guests to gather and enjoy the company of others for those special celebrations.

This year, the Vincent House Thanksgiving celebration was held from 10 am until 2 pm, on Thanksgiving Day, with founder Elliott Steele and Janine Santillo, a staff member, hosting. Here, Elliott and other attendees share their thoughts on the gathering:

It was like the old days. Over 40 members and family shared our Thanksgiving meal. Some families
brought sweets and all participated in preparing, serving and enjoying the meal. When it came time to clean up, all worked together, and we finished just after 2 pm. —Elliott 

For me, I love to celebrate Thanksgiving. I’m thankful to have a place that opens its doors to members. It’s a blessing to me to have the opportunity to be here with the people I know, and to meet members and family that are new to me. When someone opens their doors on the holidays, it shows you that they really care. —Sonya H.

Thanksgiving Day lunch with Vincent House… the food and fellowship was wonderful. Vincent House even accommodated my low-carb diet: more turkey, and less other! —Clark 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Luncheon of Dreams November 2017

On Tuesday, we held our Luncheon of Dreams fundraiser banquet. Delicious food was prepared and served by our awesome culinary team. Staff and members spoke about Vincent House and the impact it has had on the lives of members and on the community. Thank you to everyone who helped out and attended the event.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Deep Sea Fishing Trip

Last Saturday Vincent House members and staff, as well as family members went on a deep sea fishing trip out of Hubbard’s Marina on Treasure Island.  In total 45 people went, and just about everyone caught at least one fish.  The seas were calm and the weather was great.  We had a great Coast Guard certified captain, and a few very helpful crew members to work with. 
We stopped at 3 different locations all at least 7 miles out from Treasure Island.  The majority of the fish were keepers but we did have to throw some back.  Fish that were caught that day included Squirrel fish, puffer fish, grunts, mackerel and snapper. The biggest fish caught that day was a Spanish mackerel measuring in at about 14 inches long.  At the end of the day we got back to the dock and received the fish we caught. Most people got their fish cleaned and filleted for a 2 dollar charge.  All in all the trip was a successful, very fun and exciting Vincent House outing that I was proud to be a part of.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Vincent House Welcomes our New CEO

What a remarkable woman of empathy and experience! Our newest addition here at Van Gogh's Palette -Raine Johns hired and our CEO- is indeed inspirational and carries herself well. I believe she will represent us with great expertise. First and foremost she brings fortitude to the table. She has, “been there and done that” one might say, in the mental illness field. Not only does she have a personal side to her journey, in that her daughter has been with PTSD from the mere age of 6. She currently holding down a job and attending college in San Diego. Raine learned throughout the experience how to be a friend to her daughter and to the people living with mental illness.

Ms. Johns comes to us from the Pinellas/Pasco Public Defender’s office with a 13 year career in an advocacy role for people living with mental illness.  Additionally, she has witnessed countless Baker Acts implemented, many unjustly. She worked diligently to see the release of such individuals without a voice, or means of defense in an, often times, debilitating system of unfairness. She knows the ropes, she is well connected, and is extremely committed to maintaining the fidelity of Vincent House and the foundation laid by Dianne and Elliott Steele. I, for one, say a great big thank you not only to her, but to the Board of Directors for their selection.   

I know Ms. Johns has her work cut out for her with our three current locations. However, being from Pasco County I stand very excited that she also has a vision for a Vincent House model in Pasco County, as well. We know she is the perfect woman to help us transform more lives of those who have mental illness.

Friday, October 6, 2017

New Crops in our Garden for Fall/Winter Season

Vincent House members were recently asked to fill out a survey to determine what what we should plant in our garden. The survey asked which leafy greens and legumes do members prefer to see planted. Well, the results are in and these are the seeds that we will be growing in our garden for the upcoming season:

Leafy Greens
  • spinach
  • kale
  • romaine lettuce
  • cabbage 
  • snow peas
  • pole beans

We hope to plant a lot of these seeds before November. Members and staff are also hard at work transitioning the garden to prepare for the Fall/Winter season. We will be pulling out some out-of-season plants, putting in compost soil, and planting more basils. We can’t wait to see how beautifully these crops grow and flourish here at Vincent House!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vincent House Members Attend NAMI Picnic

On Saturday, September 30th, Vincent House members attended a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) picnic at Lake Seminole Park. This occasion kicks off Mental Illness Awareness Week which is October 1st to October 7th. According to the NAMI Pinellas’ Facebook page:

We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.

The Vincent House members who went participated in games and delighted in picnic foods such as chicken, pork, macaroni & cheese, various salads, cookies and lemonade. Moreover, The IRIS awards were given out to recipients with an outstanding contribution to mental health awareness.  Vincent House’s own Ligia Gomez and the Culinary Arts Team received the award last year. 

Before long, it was time to head back to Vincent House after a great outing. Thank you, NAMI for the wonderful time, and we’ll see you next year!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vincent House Participates in Pinellas Park Art Walk

On September 23rd, members of Vincent House participated in the Pinellas Park Art Walk at the 5600 Block Studios and Park Station. Vincent House had a booth at Park Station where we offered vinaigrette salad dressing for a suggested donation to raise awareness of our organization’s profile and motto of Recovery through Work. There were other amazing vendors there selling many other items including arts and crafts and jewelry. It was nice to see culture and creativity in our own community! Vincent House is looking forward to being part of the Art Walk again in the future.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Vincent House wins Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest

The Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest was an exciting way for Vincent House to participate in the greater community and display the talents of our Culinary Arts Team. Events such as these are a great way for the community to learn about Vincent House and its mission of Recovery through Work. Our Culinary Arts Team submitted a healthy, gluten-free Black Bean S’mores Cupcake, and it won first place in the specialty category. Congratulations Vincent House!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NOVA Students Visit Vincent House

Last week NOVA Southeastern University Students, who are studying occupational therapy, visited Vincent House and were treated to a Discovery Tour of our Pinellas Park facility. By visiting Vincent House, the students learned how our program helps transform lives and overcome the stigma of mental illness through work. Discovery Tours have the benefit of making those who attend “ambassadors” of Vincent House who can help spread the word about our program. To learn more about Vincent House, visit our website to see upcoming Discovery Tour dates. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Great St. Pete Cupcake Competition

The Morean Arts Center is hosting the Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this cupcake competition. To celebrate that, a hundred bakers are going to take part in the competition this year. Vincent House will be entering the contest for the second year in a row. We are entering cupcakes in both the regular and gluten-free categories. We will be taste testing flavors like gluten free black bean s’mores and banana curry to see what we would like to submit. It only costs $5 for all the cupcakes you can eat on the day of the event. You can even nominate your favorite cupcake for the People’s Choice Award. Hope to see you there on August 19 from 12-3pm. Wish us luck!
Cupcake creation from the competition in 2016.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Pinellas Park Chamber of Commerce Mixer

Vincent House Hosts the Pinellas Park Chamber of Commerce Mixer

We hosted the Pinellas Park Chamber of Commerce Mixer on Monday, July 24th. The event was very well received and allowed the community to learn more about our Recovery through Work Program.  There were many tours given and many hors d`oeuvres consumed. Our Board Members, Noreen Hodges, Bill Mischler, and Denise McCabe welcomed the guests at the beginning of the program. Alex Favara, our member speaker, followed the Board members and her speech captured the audience. At our Tuesday afternoon Mission Meeting, Ligia, our Program Director, proclaimed the Mixer as a very significant event that made a big impression on many of the guests, some of whom were here for the first time.

            From my perspective, as a member and tour guide, I was favorably impressed by many of the Chamber of Commerce members. I gave a tour to the Chamber of Commerce President, Michael Whitaker, who is the Regional Sales Manager for Wellcare Health Plans. He was quite genial. Overall, the night was enjoyable and a great success. We look forward to the relationships we will build with local businesses and are thankful the Pinellas Park Chamber provided us with this opportunity.

Hors d'ouevres created by our Culinary Arts Team.

From left to right, Steve Hodges, Lucky Durmaz and Paul Ziegler.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Truck for our Wellness Initiative

Vincent House was the recipient of a Humana Foundation grant to implement their wellness empowerment initiative. The funds received allowed us to purchase a new Dodge Silverado which will help expand our garden.  The fresh vegetables from our garden are being used in our own prepared meals. Additionally the grant will allow us to purchase more tools so we can produce more to share with the community.

The goal of this Wellness Initiative is to address health needs within the context of our vocational services.  This project will ensure that members have the opportunity to improve their health, quality of life, and longevity.  In addition to the items as described above, funds will help educate in nutrition, mind and body connection, and with wellness consultations.

 Overall, this new initiative has allowed members to work outdoors, learn new skills,   and take control of their own wellness.  We are grateful for this grant and words cannot express the enthusiasm we feel to make this Wellness Initiative an integral part of our recovery.