Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wellness Empowerment Project Begins

Members: Randy, Alex and Mike in Vincent House's own garden.

People living with severe mental illness face significant obstacles to wellness and recovery. Florida consistently ranks among the lowest in per capita mental health funding (National Alliance for Mental Illness, 2016), so individuals living with untreated mental illnesses often become perpetual patients, repeat offenders, and chronically unemployed. The life expectancy for this population is 10-25 years less than the general population, making it all the more important that something be done to try to improve these odds.
Vincent House, under the blanket of a $130,000 grant from The Humana Foundation, will be partnering with Baycare nurses and USF faculty to start a Wellness Empowerment Project. This project will fund local sustainable food options that may include a hydroponics garden, an aquaponics tilapia farm, and conventional gardening. Members will be able to plant, cultivate and harvest as part of their daily activities. The food grown as part of our sustainable food effort will also be used for hands-on nutrition classes and cooking lessons in our state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. With the help of a nutritionist, we will offer workshops, create nutritious breakfasts and lunches, offer medically-tailored to-go meals for people with special diets to eat in the evenings and on weekends, and completely overhaul our snack shop to provide health-conscious options. We are also employing practitioners in yoga and meditation to help relieve stress, reduce anxiety and help with other symptoms experienced by our members. In collaboration with BayCare Health Systems, we will offer confidential wellness consultations helping with smoking cessation; monitoring for many at-risk conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure; and checking Body Mass Index levels. This will help members who need support with their illnesses or want to curb their bad habits.
Vincent House thanks both The Humana Foundation and BayCare for their support in making all of this happen. Without them, a lot of these improvements would become unreachable.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thomas Schenk starts his Transitional Employment job at the Public Defender's Office.

          Congratulations to Thomas Schenck for getting a Transitional Employment position at the Public Defender’s Office. Thomas is the new Mail Clerk at the Public Defender’s Office.

  You may be wondering what a Transitional Employment job is. A Transitional Employment job is a part-term position at a local business where a member works alongside Vincent House staff to slowly reintegrate him or her into the work force. This work opportunity lasts about 6-9 months. It helps members gain employment skills to prepare them for a permanent employment position. Many people might not know this, but 85% - 90% of adults with severe and persistent mental illness are unemployed – some for several years and some for a life time. Transitional Employment allows members to get something recent on their resume and continue to build confidence while having a lot of support from Vincent House staff.  A few of the businesses we partner with are Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center, Digigone, Northside Hospital, Suncoast Centers and the Public Defender’s Office for Pinellas and Pasco counties. We are thankful to our employment partnerships for showing that Recovery through Work is possible for those with mental illness.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Vincent House Caters for the Pinellas Park Medical District

Vincent House helped cater the Pinellas Park Medical District on Tuesday. It was a unique experience. I got to meet new people and talk to people, like Paul Ziegler, a previous board member. We also were able to watch the presentation by DMI Research. They explained what clinical research was and how it works. They talked about why drug prices are so high and how they use a placebo in their trials. It was really interesting. Also, I liked that we all received compliments on the food. Everyone appreciated our hard work. A lot of people came back for seconds and thirds. This showed how much hard work was put in by Culinary Arts Team. I am proud to be part of the team who made the food. Thanks to Vincent House for allowing me to experience this opportunity.
By Dawn Kimber, Vincent House Member

Members of Vincent House cater for the Pinellas Park Medical District. Pictured from left to right is 
Randy Deily, Tina Seaman, Dr. Dan Strauss, Brendan Robertson, Alex Favara, and Dawn Kimber.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What is Vincent House?

Many of you might be wondering who we are and why we are writing a blog. Vincent House is a nonprofit organization that helps people with severe mental illness get back into the workforce through social and employment training. This blog will show some of the things we do here. It's important to get the word out to as many people as possible. We need to erase the stigma of mental illness by showing everyone that Recovery through Work is possible.

Elliott and Dianne Steele created Vincent House because they didn't see many programs that provided appropriate treatment for people with mental illness. Vincent House is not a drop-in center. Vincent House does not administer medications or provide therapy to its members. Those things are best left to the members' psychiatrists. Instead, Vincent House creates an atmosphere in which people with mental illness can perform duties and tasks that mimic what is done in a traditional workplace. We have three areas of specialization at Vincent House, and we also offer temporary employment as well as supported employment opportunities through our Career and Learning Center. Vincent House members are given the tools to lead productive lives and follow a path to independence. Be ready for updates soon!