The Express (March 2024)

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A N D S T O R I E S F R O M C A L I F O R N I A , O R E G O N , & O T H E R R E G I O N S 5 0 T H A N N I V E R S A R Y S P E C I A L E D I T I O N THE


The Origin of WestCare GulfCoast-Florida, Inc

Nestled along the west central coast of Florida, an extraordinary chapter unfolded in 2001, marking the Sunshine State as the fourth state to welcome the impactful presence of WestCare

The inception of WestCare GulfCoast-Florida, Inc. (WCGCFL), is a tale rich with serendipity a testament to the power of ingenuity, trust, and perhaps, a touch of divine intervention It also involves an infamous presidential election, a 2,000-mile leap of faith, and a dog named Fritter

It seems almost like a stroke of luck or perhaps a meaningful coincidence that I find myself writing the origin story of WCGCFL during Women's History Month Through research, I discovered that this journey begins in 1920 with the birth of Valore “Val” Louise Marcinak, a first-generation Polish American woman, whose pioneering efforts laid the foundation for what WC-GCFL is today

Born in Clinton, Indiana, and shaped by the Great Depression, Val nurtured a deep curiosity for nature, science, and mathematics. Her journey took her to Detroit, Michigan, where in 1940, she became Ford Motor Company's first woman metallurgist (metals scientist), later founding a specialized public relations and marketing firm for the industrial sector Retiring in Pinellas County, Florida, in 1981, Val engaged deeply with humanitarian work with a focus on the environment, homelessness, and as a hospice volunteer.

Trailblazing Beginnings Moving Mountains

The mid-1980s witnessed a surge in social consciousness nationwide, highlighted by cultural events such as Comic Relief, Band Aid, and the chart-topping anthem “We Are the World.”

As a socially aware individual, Val became acutely aware of significant deficiencies in community support Recognizing the stark lack of social services, she, together with a committed team of similarly concerned citizens, took a bold step.

In 1987, they launched The Mustard Seed Foundation, Inc , embarking on an inspiring journey to bridge service gaps

Tom Walsh, currently the Vice Chair of the Eastern Region for the WestCare Foundation, Inc., Board of Directors, played a key role in the organization's early days Reflecting on Val, he shared with enthusiasm, "Val was remarkable. She stayed actively engaged as long as she possibly could, and she never ventured anywhere without Fritter, her loyal Bichon Frise, an honorary Board member, by her side "

The Mustard Seed Foundation was named after a biblical parable from the Gospel of Matthew, symbolizing that even a tiny amount of faith can achieve great things It suggests: If you have faith as small as a mustard seed Nothing will be impossible for you This metaphor was central to the foundation's ethos.

The photograph on the cover is courtesy of Society of Women Engineers Detroit Section Records, Walter P. Reuther Library.

The Mustard Seed Foundation served as a vehicle for change, giving rise to two critical community programs: The Mustard Seed Inn, a 67-bed transitional housing program for individuals embarking on their recovery journey, and A Turning Point, an emergency shelter and inebriate receiving facility that can accommodate up to 65 individuals daily Both programs specialized in aiding individuals with co-occurring disorders or multiple chronic conditions among the most challenging to serve many of whom had been let down by other programs or lacked access to services altogether. Without intervention, many would inevitably find themselves in emergency rooms or the back of police cars

These programs, the heart of the Mustard Seed Foundation, were housed in unassuming buildings (which WestCare still inhabits) that stood as silent sentinels to the hard truths faced within, mirroring the grit and resolve of those who sought solace and strength inside

In 1997, Beth Eschenfelder took the helm as Executive Director of the organization at a critical time, inheriting significant financial challenges By 2002, the organization was nearly insolvent, with only $2,000 in the bank and salaries for twenty employees due

One of those employees, Randy Wiggins, joined the staff at A Turning Point in March 1997 and remains a part of the team today, celebrating a remarkable 27 years of service

At just 30, Beth led a dramatic recovery, increasing the operating budget, staff numbers, and program reach Yet, she knew sustaining the Mustard Seed Foundation required a robust long-term sustainability plan The Mustard Seed Foundation Board decided that merging with a larger nonprofit presented a viable solution and started discussions with various local organizations.

Taking A Giant Leap

"Looking back," Tom Walsh reflects, "it's as if we met with every organization in our community, yet none quite matched our needs By then, The Mustard Seed Inn and A Turning Point were not just names; they were brands with distinct identities deeply rooted in the community. We sought a partner that could not only elevate us but also preserve the unique essence and community ties of these programs "

In 1999, Bob Holm, a revered leader at the Florida Department of Children and Families and a key helper in establishing the Mustard Seed Foundation's signature programs, recommended that the Mustard Seed Foundation Board seek advice from Bob Neri at Phoenix House Florida Neri, who had recently become acquainted with WestCare's President/CEO Richard “Dick” Steinberg through their involvement in Treatment Communities of America (TCA), was enlisted by Dick to provide consultancy, clinical guidance, and training to WestCare

"Beth updated me on Mustard Seed's needs," recalls Bob Neri "Feeling a potential fit, I introduced her to WestCare and alerted Dick about an opportunity on the Gulf Coast "

"Before we knew it, Dick had us on a mountain, looking at the Harris Spring Ranch site in Las Vegas," Tom laughs "Of course, Dick also came to Florida to meet Mustard Seed's Board, starting meaningful conversations We valued WestCare's management support and especially Dick's commitment to preserving the individual identities of our programs, a unique offer from an organization 2,000 miles away "

All parties involved hoped for a successful partnership, and were poised to take a monumental 2,000-mile leap of faith from Nevada to Florida. Meanwhile, the backdrop of the 2000 U.S. presidential election added a compelling layer to their story

One of the most contested and contentious elections in U S history, it placed Florida at the center of global attention, often subject to mockery over the "hanging chads" debacle that culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court's decisive intervention in the election outcome

"At a WestCare Board meeting," Dick recalls, “a board member playfully asked, 'What's next, expanding to Florida?' unaware that I had the Sunshine State on my mind "

That good-humored inquiry from the Board member turned out to be keen foreshadowing After thorough discussions and navigating legal intricacies, Dick secured the Board's full support In 2001, the Mustard Seed Foundation merged with WestCare, officially forming WestCare GulfCoast-Florida, Inc , extending WestCare’s reach 2,000 miles across the country.

Following the merger with WestCare, Tom Walsh joined WestCare’s National Board of Directors, where he has continued to serve the organization as a devoted volunteer for 37 years. “Reflecting on it,” Tom recalls, “it was a period brimming with hope yet marked by significant transformations ”

This period of transformation was tinged with sadness Val's health declined, yet she stayed engaged with the organization to the end, her loyal dog Fritter always by her side. A year after the merger with WestCare, Valore Louise Marcinak, the heart of the original Mustard Seed Foundation, sadly passed away, but her legacy endures

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Familiar Names and Enduring Contributions

In the ensuing years, numerous individuals became part of WCGCFL, many of whom remain with WestCare to this day.

"I was the first official employee of WestCare GulfCoast-Florida after the merger," says Jeannie Lewis-Whitaker proudly. Jeannie was hired in 2001 to oversee a juvenile justice outpatient program. A year later, she was promoted to Director of Outpatient Services, focusing on special populations.

Among her initiatives was the Community Outreach Prevention and Education (COPE) program, a groundbreaking HIV outreach and education effort. This program was especially forward-thinking, reaching into spaces the community frequented and employing a staff that reflected the LGBTQ+ spectrum, including transgender individuals, at a time when gay marriage had lukewarm support, HIV was stigmatized, and LGBTQ+ rights were largely overlooked.

Ricki Liff, a COPE program employee, recalls the era as pioneering, emphasizing their work's importance in fostering authenticity and safety for LGBTQ+ individuals without judgment, a notable achievement in Florida's conservative climate.

In 2007, Jeannie moved from Florida to take on the role with WestCare Georgia, Inc. as Area Director. Jeannie is now the Vice President of Clinical Integrity and Accreditation, where she leads WC-GCFL and other WestCare entities through various accreditation processes, among other duties.

Bob Neri became a key member of the WestCare Foundation leadership team in 2001, serving in various roles such as Chief Clinical Officer, Chief Programs and Services Officer, and currently, as Chief Privacy Officer. In 2024, Bob marked his 23rd anniversary with WestCare Foundation, Inc.

Carol Renard became a part of WC-GCFL in 2002. In 2004, she she transitioned to the WestCare Foundation, where she shaped

Milestones in GulfCoast Florida’s History


programs and mentored staff until her retirement in 2023.

In 2004, Carol brought on Susan Rinaldi to take on the Human Resources duties for WC-GCFL and to support Executive Director Doug Leonardo Susan reminisces, "The administrative team worked from a small house in St. Petersburg. Now that’s being a family!”

The story of WC-GCFL is incomplete without mentioning Arnold Andrews, who joined the WestCare Foundation in 2005. Arnold was well-known throughout Tampa Bay for his career in nonprofit development and leadership. Shortly after helping to shape WCGCFL, he was tragically lost in a commuter plane crash in Kentucky in August 2006. His dedication and spirit are deeply missed.

Strong Community Ties

In the early 2000s, WestCare began occupying space in the Davis-Bradley Community Involvement Center (CIC), located in the "Midtown" area of St. Petersburg.

The two-story, 65,000-square-foot building, originally constructed as a hospital in 1968 and now showing its age, served as a central hub for various nonprofit organizations. On the ground floor, WestCare provided outreach and outpatient services, while other nonprofits, operating upstairs, offered programs such as genderspecific residential treatment for justice-involved individuals.

"Community activism was strong around the Davis-Bradley Center," recalls Jean Jones. "Black leaders like Iveta Martin Berry who founded Blacks Against Dangerous Drugs (BADD) and Rev. Watson Haynes, President/CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League were instrumental. They were peacemakers and bridge-builders in the community who trusted and valued WestCare's quality care, recognizing our commitment to genuinely serve and reflect the community while retaining its heritage and culture.” In 2009, backed by the community, WCGCFL acquired the Davis-Bradley CIC and began overseeing residential substance use use disorder (SUD) treatment programs



Mustard Seed Foundation Board of Directors considers partnership with larger organization as a means of sustaining operations.


The Mustard Seed Foundation, Inc. is established.

The Mustard Seed Inn Transitional Housing opens its doors.

A Turning Point Emergency Shelter opens to the public.

WestCare makes 2,000-mile leap to the Gulf Coast by merging with the Mustard Seed Foundation to establish WestCare GulfCoastFlorida, Inc., making Florida the fourth state under WestCare’s umbrella


Bob Neri, consultant to WestCare Foundation, Inc. meets with Mustard Seed Foundation Executive Director and makes introduction to Dick Steinberg.



Founder of the Mustard Seed Foundation, Valore Louise Marcinak passes away.

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funded by the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC). Today, WC-GCFL offers 157 treatment beds for men and woman through their contract with the FDC.

Over the years, FitzHouse Enterprises has implemented significant renovations to the Davis-Bradley CIC. Following her death, WC-GCFL commemorated Iveta Martin Berry's legacy by naming the CIC's conference room after her. A portrait of Iveta graces the room, serving as a lasting tribute to her vigilant care for the community she deeply loved.

Remarkable Growth

Over the last 20 years, WC-GCFL has experienced remarkable growth with the assistance of management services from the WestCare Foundation.

From the smallest seed of an idea, nurtured by unwavering belief, a vast field of services and programs has blossomed—forming a continuum of care embracing the full diversity of humanity.

“I'm especially thrilled to see our original programs, The Mustard Seed Inn and A Turning Point, not only persist but flourish,” says Tom Walsh. “WestCare has honored its commitment, preserving heir unique identities. That fills me with immense pride."



WestCare GulfCoast-Florida, Inc. purchases the Davis-Bradley building, a 65,000 square foot Community Involvement Center. WestCare expands into residential treatment programming for individuals involved in the justice system with contracts with the Florida Department of Corrections and Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida.


WestCare GulfCoast-Florida expands the Mustard Seed Inn program to include specialty programming for Veterans.


At the end of the last century, the Mustard Seed Foundation employed fewer than 20 staff members, whereas WC-GCFL now has a workforce of 150. Additionally, while the Mustard Seed Foundation faced financial struggles in the mid-1990s, WC-GCFL's operating budget for fiscal year 2024 has surged to over $15 million. Last year alone, the organization served nearly 3,000 unduplicated individuals.

"It's absolutely incredible," boasts Ronda Lieberman, Senior Accountant. "Being part of the team that helps grow and sustain our organization is truly an honor."

“It’s more than just a fiscal success,” says Maureen-Ann Traci, Executive Assistant to WestCare Florida’s Vice President of Operations. “We’ve developed an organization that gives employees opportunities to grow personally and professionally, too.”

A Vision for the Future

Last year, WC-GCFL embraced a new era of leadership with Steve Blank stepping in as WC-GCFL Vice President of Operations With a 33-year tenure in behavioral health and human services across Florida, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, Steve brings experience and a fresh perspective to the role.

Steve shared his aspirational vision for the future: "At the heart of my vision for WestCare GulfCoast-Florida is the empowerment of our staff, the enhancement and expansion of our services, and a full embodiment of our mission," he explained. "This vision is grounded in fostering a culture where every team member feels valued and acknowledged, recognizing their crucial role in transforming the lives we touch. Our focus extends beyond providing services—it's about elevating the human spirit at every turn. By building upon our existing services and pioneering new initiatives, we pledge not only to meet but to surpass the expectations of our community and stakeholders. This unwavering commitment to our mission will steer our path forward."



WestCare GulfCoast-Florida welcomes Steve Blank, new Vice President of Operations.

Follow Our Journey!

WestCare GulfCoast - Florida




WestCare GulfCoast-Florida celebrates largest operating budget in history in excess of $15 million, representing over 500% growth over its history.


U p l i f t i n g t h e H u m a n S p i r i t 5


The Origin of the Guidance/Care Center, Inc

In the early 1970’s, a chain of islands known as the Florida Keys were shrouded in the tranquility of isolation, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland To those who called them home, the Keys were more than just a collection of islands; they were a sanctuary, a haven for the unconventional and the free-spirited Living there meant embracing a certain eccentricity, a willingness to dance to the beat of one’s own drum but even Conchs (as the locals affectionately call themselves) occasionally need a helping hand

Meanwhile, 1,000 miles away in San Antonio, TX, the trill of a telephone interrupted a day in the household of David and Mary Rice, practicing psychologists "Hello?” A smile formed on David’s lips as he recognized the voice on the other end “Mr Horan! How’s life in the Keys?” he asked warmly. Mr. Horan’s laughter vibrated the handset, “Oh you know, island living and treasure hunters... the usual!” he jested David Horan was a lawyer, community advocate, and close friend of the Rices His voice shifted to a more serious tone “Actually David, I’m calling about something important ” As David listened, Mr Horan expressed the pressing need for mental health support in the Marathon community. “We are opening up a program in Marathon, David. The families here need support. I was hoping you and Mary would apply ” David and Mary might be the perfect

solution to a problem that the isolated community was facing There were children in the Keys referred for special education but required IQ tests before they could be placed in the programs. Due to the remoteness of the islands, families were waiting upwards of 18 months for assessments that would help them gain equitable education for children who needed it To make matters worse, the closest mental health programs were located on the mainland, 3 hours or more away from the Lower Keys “What do you think?” Mr Horan asked, after explaining the situation David looked at his wife, who stood nearby, listening. She nodded. “We’ll be there ” David said

David sat outside waiting for his interview with the board of directors of the new Guidance Clinic "Hi," he greeted as he extended his hand, "I'm David Rice " The man sitting beside him shuffled his paperwork before offering his hand. "Richard Matthews," he introduced himself. David nodded, a subtle smile crossing his lips "Nice to meet you Psychologist?" he inquired "Yeah," Richard affirmed "You?" David nodded in response "Same " The two of them had been invited to apply because the Guidance Clinic was looking to open more than one location Little did the men know that the two of them would pave the way for many years of mental health services in The Keys.

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Left to Right: Frank Rabbito, Richard Matthews. Marsh Wolfe, and David Rice

The Florida Keys consists of 800 islands and stretches 180 miles Of those, 30 of them are populated and connected by US 1 (Overseas Highway), a highway that joins the islands with 42 bridges. In an effort to bring much-needed mental health services to as many Keys residents as possible, the board’s plan was to open multiple locations - and they would need more than one director

The Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys, Inc was founded in August 1973 as a private, not-for-profit behavioral healthcare agency serving the Middle Keys in Marathon, Florida. Initially serving school children and their families, it was a community effort to renovate the building they worked out of with a total budget of only $47,000 - and that needed to cover renovations, salaries, rent, and electricity David Rice and his team initially opened a residential, substance abuse detoxification unit, then in 1976, the inpatient/residential unit was expanded to include psychiatric crisis stabilization.

The Guidance Clinic of the Upper Keys, was a much smaller facility Lead by Dr. Richard Matthews, who was educated at Notre Dame, it was dedicated to outpatient mental health services “The Clinic in the Upper Keys was an outpatient practice only,” explained David Rice “ there were maybe half a dozen employees there That worked out great for Dr. Matthews, who preferred to keep a smaller practice.” More importantly, it meant that locals didn’t have to travel to Marathon or the mainland for counseling services

The Care Center for Mental Health, Inc. was founded in October 1983 Around the same time, a man named Marsh Wolfe and his wife Dottie sailed into the Keys “I’ve always been really lucky in the sense that I am invariably in the right place at the right time... and that’s how I met David Rice ” Marsh remembered Marsh's wife, Dottie, a psychologist, picked up a position at the Guidance Clinic When David met Marsh, and found out he was a psychologist too, he asked him to come help out a couple of days a week “It turned out that David was

U p l i f t i n g t h e H u m a n S p i r i t 7
The Heron Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys, Inc.
Clinic Upper Keys
Center for Mental Health Inc.
OriginalFacilityLocations Joined in 2006 to make The
Center, Inc

trying to manage the Care Center as well as the Guidance Clinic, and he asked me to apply for the job ” Marsh explained He did apply, and Marsh found himself stepping into a pivotal role that would impact countless lives of individuals seeking solace and support at the Care Center.

“So we had Dr Richard Matthews in the Upper Keys, Marsh in the Lower Keys, and I managed the Middle Keys ” David Rice affirmed, reflecting on the coordinated efforts to provide essential mental health services across the Keys

In 1989, as the need for residential care continued to increase in Monroe County, the facility in Marathon was built. Still in use today, it has a floor area of 14,500 square feet, and accommodates administrative offices, outpatient services, and a total of 11 substance abuse detoxification beds, along with 13 psychiatric crisis stabilization beds and two long-term residential psychiatric beds.

Milestones in The Guidance/Care Center’s History


A counseling center in the Upper Keys and a larger multifaceted center including residential and detox stabilization units opens in the Middle Keys.

In 1994, the seeds of compassionate care were sown with the inception of the Personal Growth Center (PGC) in Marathon. Designed to be a beacon of hope for the chronically mentally ill, PGC embarked on its mission to provide essential day treatment and drop-in services to those in need. Initially housed within the modest confines of a triple-wide modular unit on the grounds of Guidance Clinic headquarters, PGC soon outgrew its humble beginnings. In 2003, a permanent structure was erected on the Marathon property, symbolizing a steadfast commitment to the community's well-being. Embracing the clubhouse model, PGC extends its reach to adults living in Monroe County, offering sanctuary to those diagnosed with serious and persistent mental health disorders. Moreover, with a keen awareness of the multifaceted nature of human struggles, PGC stands ready to support individuals grappling with co-occurring substance use disorders. In its steadfast dedication, PGC serves as a lifeline for those who may need it, embodying the ethos of compassion and inclusion that defines the spirit of The Keys.

In the early 2000s, as Richard Matthews retired, David Rice and Marsh Wolfe found themselves grappling with the future of their vital programs. With David overseeing the Upper and Middle Keys Guidance Clinics, and Marsh continuing his stewardship of the Care Center, the duo harbored concerns about their programs' sustainability. A colleague and friend, Frank Rabbito, was a prominent figure in Florida's mental health landscape, first as the State Substance Abuse and Mental Health Director for South Florida, and currently as Chief Operating Officer of WestCare’s Florida Region, and he invited the men to meet Dick Steinberg, President/CEO of WestCare.

"David and Marsh undertook a thorough evaluation of WestCare,”



The administration of The Care Center, originally overseen by David Rice, was later transitioned to Marsh Wolfe.



The inpatient/residential unit was expanded in 1976 to include psychiatric crisis stabilization.


Covering an impressive 14,500 square feet, was built with care and still functions today serving the community.

The Heron, an assisted Living Facility, opens in Marathon.

GCC was designated the Community Transportation Coordinator (CTC) for the transportation of the disadvantaged who reside in Monroe County which has since been renewed every five years.

1976 1988 W E S T C A R E . C O M 8
“Dick and I hit it off right away. He embodied the qualities I value— h ilit i t lli h ”

WestCare was the most prudent course of action." Upon their introduction to Dick Steinberg, the path forward became clear. "Frank urged me to meet someone," recalled Marsh, reflecting on their initial encounter. "Dick and I hit it off right away. He embodied the qualities I value—humility, intelligence, humor. So, I approached our board and assured them that this partnership with WestCare, led by Dick, would be steadfast." Marsh Wolfe is still and active member of WestCare’s Community Action Council (CAC), and David Rice is still actively involved.

In 2003, it was official, and the Guidance Clinic of the Upper and Middle Keys, and the Care Center came under the WestCare umbrella. In 2006, they merged to become what we know today as the Guidance/Care Center Inc. (GCC)

From its humble origins with David and Mary Rice and a handful of local “Conch” volunteers, GCC has evolved into an institution of extraordinary value in Monroe County. With 130 dedicated staff



Initially created in a triple-wide modular unit in Marathon, the Personal Growth Center (PGC) provides day treatment and drop-in services for the chronically mentally ill.

members, GCC stands as Monroe County’s primary mental health provider. In 2006, Maureen Dunleavy was hired as a Children’s Therapist, marking a significant moment in the center's history because since then, Maureen has risen to Senior Vice President of Guidance/Care Center Under Maureen’s leadership, the Guidance/Care Center continues to thrive and expand its reach, providing essential mental health services to the community with dedication and innovation.

Maureen expressed her pride in GCC’s accomplishments saying, “I am proud of the contribution the Guidance/Care Center has made to the Florida Keys community. We continue to be committed and a leader in behavioral health. There are good things on the horizon, and we continue to implement the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic model, rebuild our Heron facility, and carry on Uplifting the Human Spirit.”

Today, GCC embodies a comprehensive approach to care, delivering a wide spectrum of services through 20 different programs ranging from mental health & wellness, substance abuse treatment & rehabilitation, criminal justice, Veterans services, homeless services and education & prevention. “The Keys are strategically growing,” says Frank Rabbito “and they continue to strive for excellence.” From crisis support to medication-assisted treatment, and individual therapy to psychosocial rehabilitation, GCC is a beacon in the eccentric and unconventional world of the Keys, and they stand ready to throw a lifeline to those in need.



The Guidance Care Clinics of the Upper and Middle Keys, and the Care Center of the Lower Keys, merge to become the Guidance/Care Center.



The dedicated team at Guidance/Care Center remains steadfast in their commitment to serving the community, unwavering in their pursuit of Uplifting the Human Spirit.


The Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys and The Care Center become affiliated with WestCare.

The Personal Growth Center is moved into a permanent structure on the Marathon Property.

Prevention Partnership Grant was awarded.


The Guidance/Care Center by WestCare takes over the Heron in Marathon, FL.

Guidance/Care Center by WestCare Follow Our Journey! 2003 2014 U p l i f t i n g t h e H u m a n S p i r i t 9
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
– Margaret Mead
Thank you




WestCare California marked its 50th anniversary with an Open House event at our bustling Gateway Campus in Fresno. The event, held on Wednesday, February 28, was a heartwarming celebration of our longstanding commitment to Uplifting the Human Spirit.

The day kicked off in the atrium of the now fully-occupied 1850 N. Gateway location. Shawn Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer for WestCare’s Western Region, shared heartwarming reflections on WestCare California’s journey from an upstart residential facility in Fresno, CA for male heroin addicts with 14 clients called The Third Floor to a state-wide provider of behavioral health and human services with a presence in 38 of California's 58 counties and over 2,500 clients served on a daily basis.

A representative of Congressman Jim Costa’s office presented WestCare with a Congressional Record, which will be read on the Congressional Floor in our Nation’s Capitol. Fresno County Board of Supervisor, Steve Brandau presented us with a Proclamation of Recognition to recognize WestCare’s 50th anniversary and impact on the community. Vice President, MaryAnn Knoy, spoke on the various services that are provided at the 1850 and 1900 N. Gateway offices that comprise the campus.

office our in to , Our providing 1900 Gateway Adolescent our and

Amidst the celebration, attendees enjoyed a delightful spread of food provided courtesy of our amazing kitchen staff at MLK Residential, fostering connections and camaraderie among the guests and staff alike.

As WestCare California continues its mission of compassion and care, the Gateway Campus has established itself as a symbol of hope and healing for the community. With five decades of service behind us and a commitment to innovation ahead, WestCare California will continue to be a guiding light for those in need!



On February 22, WestCare Nevada broke ground on The Village at the Women and Children’s Campus The Village is an 84-unit transitional living community for women and women with children to reside after their successful completion of residential treatment either with WestCare or another community provider. Services to be provided include case management, peer recovery support, parenting classes, family reunification, vocational and financial literacy training, reentry services for criminal justice involved individuals, and more.

This has been a dream 10 years in the making and countless people have given their time and energy to this much-needed project. The Village will have supportive services and will provide a safe and nurturing environment, specifically designed for families experiencing trauma, abuse, drug and/or alcohol use disorder, mental illness, and/or homelessness.

We want to create a sense of belonging and teach financial literacy and life-skills education classes. The Village will also have two multipurpose rooms and four playgrounds with gardens full of produce.

I was proud to be part of this celebration and part of the development team to help raise the funding to secure this groundbreaking. The entire community was brought together for the fundraising effort and I am pleased to say we received support from both private and public funding sources. From a small GoFundMe donation to support from an angel investor, we are humbled and grateful for our community, our city, and our state’s support of our vision!

This event was amazing and we had symbolic representations from all the major politicians from Congressmen Susie Lee, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, First Lady Donna Lombardo, and Congressmen Steven Horsford (via a pre-recorded message). Staff from Senator Jacky Rosen’s office and Senator Catherine Cortez Mastro‘s office also joined us to deliver proclamations.

The groundbreaking is only the beginning and we look forward to a ribbon-cutting in early 2025. We will continue our mission of Uplifting the Human Spirit. @westcarenevada

WestCare Nevada @westcarenevada

W E S T C A R E . C O M 12

MakingEveryoneCount:Surveying HomelessnessonGuam

This year, WestCare Pacific Islands’ (WPI) Håtsa and Uplift programs, along with the rest of WPI team, participated as volunteers for the Guam Homeless Coalition’s (GHC) Point-In-Time (PIT) Count, a nationwide biannual requirement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for local Continuums of Care (CoC) Over 300 volunteers from various agencies conducted surveys with sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness which provided information on demographics, the homelessness experience, and needs for assistance. With a start time of 4:00am, volunteers collected care packages, forms, and other items needed before splitting into teams to different parts of the island.

As we came across individuals and families experiencing homelessness, they shared feelings of frustration after waiting a while for support or apprehension about seeking assistance from community programs Through this experience, our teams were provided the opportunity to learn more about the homeless experience, provide hope for people in crises, engage them into our services, discuss ways to improve our efforts, and gather critical data for our community WPI hopes to expand and strengthen the quality of our programs serving the homeless population to continue the vision of Uplifting the Human Spirit

We are happy to introduce you to our newest Family Alliance for Veterans of America (FAVA) and WestCare Iowa team member, Nick Smith Nick started with FAVA/WestCare Iowa back in January of 2024 and is training to become a Veteran Advocate for our SSVF/Shallow Subsidy program here in Sioux City

Nick is a military Veteran himself, spending nearly 14 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force. The first nine years of his career in the service were spent working as a heavy aircraft mechanic, while the last five were spent as a Flight Engineer on the AC-130W Stinger II aircraft. Between these two jobs, Nick has deployed worldwide several times in support, combat, and humanitarian roles, and as a result, has had the ability to interact with service members of all backgrounds in many different capacities.

Nick is originally from Sioux City and is happy to be helping the Veteran population in the community where he was born and raised.

We are thrilled and excited to have Nick joining our team!

U p l i f t i n g t h e H u m a n S p i r i t 13
FAVA (Family Alliance for Veterans of America)
PACIFIC ISLANDS: IOWA: WelcomeAboardNickSmith!


VETCare kicked off our 1st Annual Veterans’ Mental Health Summit at the Oregon National Guard Readiness Center in Dallas, Oregon. The Willamette Health Council and Deer Hollow Recovery graciously helped us host this event for our local heroes and community partners.

It was a privilege to learn about the stigma behind mental health and the effects of trauma from our presenters, Jennifer Hilton from WestCare Foundation, Matt Quackenbush with Deer Hollow, and Jared Nesary, retired police officer from the Yakima Police Department Each speaker brought different topics to the table about mental health.

The morning started with a personal story from retired Yakima Police Officer and former U.S. Marine, Jared Nesary. He candidly opened up about his life and what made him want to seek help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After his story, another presentation was followed up by Deer Hollow’s

Director of Education and Training, Matt Quackenbush, who covered the topics of PTSD and Post-Traumatic Stress Injury, (PTSI) a term often used to reduce the stigma associated with PTSD. His insightful points discussing the effects of trauma on brain development and other parts of the human body became a powerful reminder of the seriousness behind mental health and that it’s okay to be vulnerable and admit that you need help.

Another highlight the event was Jennifer Hilton’s presentation on Veteran suicide. According to recent studies, the number of suicide rates for Veterans decreased from 22 lives per day to 17 lives per day. Jennifer stated that despite the slight decrease over the years, people have tremendously succeeded in becoming more aware of mental health and taking serious action on this matter.

Towards the end of the day, our community members were able to connect with our attendees with resources regarding mental health and recovery. It was also refreshing to witness a speaker panel that featured our VETcare Program Director, Roy McClain, Interim Director of Operations of WestCare Texas, Peggy Quigg, Mentor at Steps Recovery Center, Sean Dalton, and VETcare Case Manager, Mark Pekkola As former military service members themselves, each panelist spoke about their struggles with mental health and opened up to the audience. This event was not only an educational experience, but also familiarized our Veteran services program to the community and created a lasting impact for our local heroes.

@_vetcareoregon_ @vetcareoregon W E S T C A R E . C O M 14


FLORIDA: TEXAS: EmpoweringSpiritualLeaders:Free TrainingtoBridgeMentalHealthGaps inCommunitiesofColor

The Village South (TVS) commenced the new year with a comprehensive year-long initiative aimed at establishing a new standard for future referral sources. The highlight of this endeavor was Judge’s Day, a collaborative event featuring Broward County’s District 17th Circuit judges, dignitaries, and prominent organizations such as ChildNet and Broward Behavioral Health Coalition Attendees from TVS included Chief Operating Officer for WestCare‘s Florida Regions, Frank Rabbito, Senior Vice President of TVS, Danny Blanco, and additional members of leadership. This event served as a platform for fostering connections with key stakeholders who provide alternative measures for individuals recovering from addiction.

During Judge’s Day, TVS conducted a compelling presentation showcasing its diverse programs and services catering to individuals in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. A distinguished panel, including Dr. Arlene Pena-Gonzalez, Medical Director, Israel Gonzales, Admission Director, and Leonard Ross, Outpatient Director, provided valuable insights and addressed queries from the audience. Following the engaging Q&A session, attendees were given a comprehensive tour of the residential building - providing a firsthand look at the consumer's dining, medical, and clinical services. The tour culminated at the Pembroke Pines Children’s Academy, where childcare services are extended not only to consumers, but also to the wider community.

This event not only served as a visual representation of TVS's extensive range of services, but also provided an invaluable opportunity for judges and representatives to witness the dedication and hard work invested into each program. It underscored the commitment of The Village South to ensuring the success and well-being of all individuals involved - leaving a lasting impression on the attendees and reinforcing the organization's reputation as a leader in the field.

In February, WestCare Texas was engaged in several capacity building events and trainings for the staff and the community. On Friday, February 23, the Trauma Informed Ministry Model’s (TIMM) first cohort graduated. Dr. Keely Petty, the lead TIMM Trainer for WestCare Texas, taught the faith leaders and congregants how to take a more active role in addressing the mental health of their congregations. For years, people of color were taught to stay silent in the face of trauma for fear of stigma and shame. This cultural norm placed a stigma on those seeking mental health treatment.

The TIMM training is a certified, evidence-based training that is offered free to faith-based organizations and covers the courses of Mental Health First Aid, Crisis Prevention/Intervention and Deescalation, and Psychological First Aid Dr. Keely noted, “The TIMM training is important for faith leaders because when people are struggling, they often come to their faith leaders first. There aren’t enough medical professionals to treat people with mental health concerns.” Beverly Watts Davis, Senior Vice President of WestCare Texas, said, “This training builds community capacity in faith-based organizations to be first responders to help ensure that people get the help that they need. It is important for faith leaders to destigmatize trauma and mental illnesses that disproportionately impact communities of color.”

During this cohort, 14 participants met virtually and were educated on how to better understand the trauma experienced by their communities and how the lack of resources has increased stigma, shame, suicide, and other mental disorders. “Healed people heal people and now they can help people identify trauma in the body and connect them to a network of state and county resources to address mental and behavioral health. The program also fits in with the City of San Antonio’s five-year strategic plan for the Metropolitan Health District,” said Jessie Higgins, the city’s Chief Mental Health Officer “Faith communities are especially able and important in the area of building connection,” Higgins added. WestCare Texas is proud to have graduated the TIMM cohort of faith-based leaders who will serve the San Antonio community with a trauma-informed perspective and help end generational trauma.

The Village South, Inc @thevillagesouth
U p l i f t i n g t h e H u m a n S p i r i t 15
WestCare Texas @westcaretexas
WestCare @WestCare @WestCareFoundation WestCare Foundation /westcare #WeAreWestCare
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