The Loop - California (February 2023)

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WestCare Family,

This month, we join the entire country, and other countries, in celebrating Black History Month. We do so by honoring all the contributions and achievements of many African Americans that shaped our nation. Whether it was through the discovery of an innovation, medication, or most importantly paving the way for equal rights, their hard work allowed minority groups to be in places and roles of opportunity that were not available previously.

In honor of Black History Month, WestCare continues to remain more committed than ever in creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environments. It’s a time to be intentional in reflecting and giving thanks to the incredible individuals who fought for our rights and freedom, often at the risk of their own lives. In addition, it’s time to be further educated about the diverse communities we are a part of and serve, their struggles, their achievements, and their impacts in this world - past and present.

We encourage you to find ways to learn more about Black History Month and share the knowledge gained with your peers, family, and friends

Thankyou,MaryAnn,forallowingspacetomakeastatementonbehalfofWestCareCalifornia’s CulturalDiversityCommittee!

Ourcommitteecontinueschallengingourselvesbytakingonopportunitiestoeducateothersonvarious differentcultureswhilebringingvariouskindsoffoodtoeveryquarterlymeeting.Weunderstandthat that connections are gained through exchanges of conversations and the food brought to these meetingsisagreatentrypointtobeginningvariousdiscussions.

OnMLKDay,ourDatadepartmentdecidedtoholdadessertsocialwhiletalkingamongsteachother aboutthelifeandlegacyofDr.MartinLutherKing.Oneemployeegottobenefitdirectlyfromthework ofDr.Kingwhileshewasinhighschoolandsharedherexperienceofwhatlifewaslikebackthen throughherpointofview.FolkswhoattendedthesocialwereinaweofhowmuchofanimpactDr.King madeonsomeonewholivedduringthattimeandhowschoolswereaffectedbytheCivilRights Movement.Overall,thisdiscussionbecameasignificantlyhugelearningpointforeveryone.

Thismonth,ourSanJoaquinValleyVeterans(SJVV)teaminFresnovisitedVisionView,anAfrican American-founded501C3non-profitorganizationthatsupportsminority-ownedbusinessesbyproviding opportunitiesandresourcesthatwillallowtheirownerstosucceed.VisionViewisalsopartofthe FresnoAreaAirportDistrict,whichisaremarkablerelationshiptohave.OurSJVVteamlearnedmore abouthowVisionViewprovidesservicestothepeoplethattheyservewithinthecommunityandgained moreawarenessofwhatourgreatercommunityhastooffer.

Weconstantlymakeeffortstounderstandthesignificanceofdiversityintheworkplaceandhowthat directlyaffectstheservicesweprovidetoourclients.Onbehalfofourcommittee,weinviteyoutojoin ustoexaminesubculturessuchasage,religion,ethnicity,andevensocioeconomicstatus.Youcanget involvedwiththisamazingcommitteebycontactingyourprogramdirectorormyselfdirectly.
A C O L L E C T I O N O F S T O R I E S F R O M A R O U N D C A L I F O R N I A I S S U E 1 1 7 V O L U M E 1 0 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 3
DayatraLatin, DirectorofOperations, WestCareCalifornia

Program Spotlight: BEAT (Behavioral Education and Treatment)

BEAT (Behavioral Education and Treatment) is a BEAT MAI (Minority AIDS Initiative) grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which work with individuals who are HIV positive or at high risk of contracting it and have a substance abuse and/or co-occurring disorder. We primarily serve LGBTQ+ individuals, racial/ethnic minorities who identify as Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (YMSM), intravenous drug users, and individuals involved in risky behaviors such as sex industry work, unprotected sex, and human trafficking. Our program’s goal is to reduce the link between substance abuse and the transmission of HIV/HCV while empowering those that we serve to live drug-free, healthy, and productive life. Through intensive residential, outpatient, and recovery residence services, clients can achieve program results.

Kudos to The Entire BEAT Team

The BEAT team is a well-versed group who not only assists clients with navigating through inpatient and outpatient treatment, but also provides health education and teaches harm reduction practices to our high-risk population. This team is committed to mentoring, educating, and going above and beyond for the clients who we have the privilege of serving. I am very excited to be a part of such a dedicated, knowledgeable, and hard-working Team!

A BEAT Success Story

When “K” came into our residential program, she was three months pregnant with twins and ready to change her life for herself and her children. She built up the courage to leave her abusive relationship and started working on being the best mom she could be. While staying in our residential program, she got a restraining order for herself and her unborn children. She started working through the program, exceeded her expectations, and gave birth to her clean and sober babies while in the program. By utilizing the services of MLK’s Learning Center, she learned how to raise two infants while remaining sober. After 150 days, she officially graduated from residential treatment. Upon finishing our outpatient program, we connected her with the HOPE program at Fresno City College. From there, she obtained housing for herself and her children. She is currently attending school to further her education and a brighter future for herself and her family.

Donation Wishlist

1.13: Fresno Admissions and Outpatient Honors MLK Jr.

Staff at Fresno Admissions and Outpatient enjoyed a MLK Day meal together, planned by Lead Counselor, Michelle Stone and Program Coordinator, Melissa Dickerson. Staff were encouraged to bring their own traditional Southern food item and during the meal, they shared more about their food and why they specifically chose to bring said item. It was also an educational time where staff and clients got to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. via printed materials that Michelle brought.



Personal care items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, showershoes,luffas,lotion,etc.)

Wearecurrentlyseekingdonationsof: Ifyouwouldliketomakeadonation,pleasecontact

1.24 - 1.26: The 2023 Fresno Madera Homeless PIT Count

WestCare California staff on behalf of Housing Services, San Joaquin Valley Veterans (SJVV), BEAT, and Administration joined over 200 volunteers in this year’s Homeless Point-In-Time Count, or PIT, presented by the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care (FMCoC) Over the course of the three-day event, volunteers tallied and surveyed individuals experiencing homelessness in Fresno and Madera Counties to provide the collected information to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and show the need for more services in our community geared towards ending homelessness among Veterans, families, and the chronically homeless. We’d like to thank our staff who put in long nights to meet and speak with our brothers and sisters on the streets as well as those on our team who played a part in organizing this crucial event!
From L-R: Ricardo Rivera, Care Navigator; Jojo Zolee, Care Coordinator; Ashley Morris, Program Coordinator; and Veronica Gonzales, Transitional Counselor Not Pictured: Alexsys Lesan, Research Assistant

InearlyFebruary,ourWestCareCaliforniafamilyofprogramsbidaheartfeltfarewelland wishedaveryHappyRetirementtoalongtimememberofourfamilyandleadership,Lynn Pimentel!Whileshehasbeenemployedwithourorganizationforover20years,herhistory with WestCare goes back even further. In 1990, she was a client and in early 1993, a graduateofTheThirdFloor,a48-bedresidentialtreatmentfacilityinFresno,whichwenow affectionatelyknowtodayasWestCareCalifornia.

After completing the program, she returned in July of 2002 as an Outpatient Substance AbuseCounselor.ShewasthenpromotedtoDirectoroftheWomenandChildren'sProgram at MLK Residential in January of 2003. In 2006, she was promoted again to Director of MLK. A year later in 2007, she was promoted to the position of Clinical Director for WestCare California. Her rise through the ranks would continue in 2008 into the role of DeputyAdministratorforWestCareCalifornia,inwhichthroughoutthis13+yeartenure,she wouldoverseeallprogramsuntiltransitioningtooversightspecificallyforourtreatmentand rehabilitation, Veterans services, housing opportunities, and education & prevention programs. She remained the Deputy Administrator until she began her transition into retirement, in which she worked with our organization on a part-time basis as a Special ProjectsSpecialist,beginningJanuary1,2022.Throughouther20yearsofservicetoour organization, she proudly touts that 387 clean and sober babies were born at our MLK Residentialfacilityduringhertimewithus.

On top of her leadership duties for the organization and commitment to the message of recovery as a proud alumni, her name has become synonymous with community involvement, collaboration, and advocacy. Fromherroleas theco-founderof Community

Partners 4 Recovery (CP4R) and the SoberStock event to her involvement with the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care (FMCoC) and role in planning various WestCare eventsrangingfromtreatmentgraduationstoparades,theFresnoAIDSWalk,California alumni group gatherings, and more – she has embodied our mission and vision well beyondtheconfinesofaregularworkingday.Shelivesitandshebreathesit. Duringherfarewellparty,sheremarked,"ThisismyformalretirementfromWestCare.I startedwiththisorganizationin1990asaconsumerandI’mretiringasaformerDeputy Administrator.Itwaslikeworkingwithfamilyeveryday–changinglives,seeingbabies born clean and sober, seeing clients who used to attend programs work for us now, seeingthechangeinthepeopleweserve,seeingthegrowthofouragency,andseeing the lives that have been touched by housing and Veterans services. It just makes me veryproudtobeaWestCarian.Iwillbeinyourheartsalwaysandyouwillhearmywords when I say things like, ‘May the force be with you.’ Have a good life. I enjoyed every association with WestCare that I’ve had and appreciate their support throughout the years.Thankyou.”

While she will remain with our organization by way of helping plan future WestCare events,thereisnodenyingthatwewillmissherandherunbridledpassionforrecovery and the life-changing services that we are so fortunate to provide. On behalf of your WestCarefamily,thosethatweserve,andourcountlessalumni–weloveyouandwish youonlythehappiestofyearsaheadinyourretirement.

Recovery is an Ongoing Journey

Outpatient Counselor,


Ididn’tknowwhatlivinglifetrulywasuntilsobriety.Before,mylifeconsistedofbeingasinglemotherwhoattendedalleventsandappointments,Ifoundmyselfinterrible andtoxicrelationships,unemployed,andunsureofwhatIwasevendoinginlife.

Foralmosttwoyears,drinkingwasmylife.IgotmyselfaDUI,totaledacar,becameinvolvedinaCPScase,anddidn’tcarewhetherIdied.Ididn’tfeelIcouldconfidein anyoneorthatanyonewouldunderstandmeorwhatIwasgoingthrough.

Iwenttodetoxsixyearsagoyesterday.Afterdetox,IwenttoaresidentialrehabilitationcentercalledSpiritofWomen,forthreemonths.Inthosethreemonths,Ilearned thingsaboutmyselfandwhatIhadgonethroughthatIneverwantedtodealwith.Itwasalsothehardestthingtohavetocomebacktoanemptyhome.Icompleted inpatient,aftercareclasses,parentingclasses,therapy,andgotmychildrenback.

Inearlysobriety,Idecidedtogotocollege.Me,gotocollege?Ofcourse,Iwasthinking,‘I’mjustgoingtogetacertificateinsomething.’ThatchangedratherquicklyandI graduatedwithmyassociatedegreeindrugandalcoholabusecounseling.


Today,IamstillsoberbythegraceofGod.Iamcurrentlyemployedfulltimeasadrugandalcoholabusecounselorforparolees.IambackinschoolatFresnoStateformy bachelor'sdegreeandI’mstillasinglemotherthatismanaginghertimetogetherkids’needstakencareof.Inowgettovacationwiththem,purchasetheirwants,provide theirneeds,bethereforthem,andteachthem.

Maintainingmysobrietyisadailystruggle.Sometimes,onedayiseasierthanthedaybefore.Sometimes,it’scountingthemoments.Eitherway-myrecoveryisworkingon myselfeverydaywithonefootinfrontofthenext.

NoteveryoneunderstandsmeorwhatIgothrough,butthat’sokay.Irepeat,it’sokay.OnedayatatimeishowIwillcontinuetomoveforwardintherightdirectionof continuingtolivelifetothefullest!”

Uplifting the Human Spirit @westcare
2.9: Happy Retirement, Lynn Pimentel

Every month, the Holy Cross Health & Wellness Center in Fresno hosts their staff site meetings where they provide updates, reminders, and team-building efforts. These meetings are coordinated by Stephanie Perez, Program Manager for Day 1 Families Fund (D1FF), and Erin Shelton, HUD CES Program Manager.

Recently, to end these meetings, a staff member will lead a self-care activity. This short activity is slowly becoming a tradition at Holy Cross and their staff look forward to it as an opportunity to relax, unwind, and disconnect from the heavy work they do.

Lizbeth Reyes, Family Life Skills Educator for D1FF, led the most recent self-care activity by utilizing sound healing. “Sound healing is a modality that is used to improve a person’s physical health and emotional well-being,” said Lizbeth. “It can take sound baths Each bowl I use has specific fre promotes deep rest, nervous system rebalancing, and emotional release.”

CORE Awards

Employee of the Month

December: Creativity Zulema Garibay Receptionist, Administration Team Kudos!

Community-Based EOTM

“Congratulations to Counselor at MLK Residential,ArthurPortillo,forreceivingan EmployeeoftheWeekcertificatefromour clients!Everyweek,ourclientmembersof theCOREGroupcasttheirvotesonastaff member who has impacted them and Art wasnominated.

HavingbeenwithMLKResidentialforthree years, Art is recognized for his facilitation

skills, his amazing involvement with the clients, and great assistance with program needs. He displays the core values of WestCare with his work ethic and we can’t thank him enough for his dedication to his work!” -

MLK Residential

have had the pleasure to work with William Gorden for almost one year now. He has shown growth in his role as Case Manager for Opening Doors as well as determination and creativity. He compassionate in his delivery of services to the clients and others. Great job, Bill! Keep up the great work.”Rosemarie Duarte, Opening Doors Program Manager, Housing Services


2.10: WestCare California Shares Its Team Spirit!

In celebration of Super Bowl LVII, staff were encouraged to wear jerseys of their favorite team to work! From Fresno to North Highlands, we saw participation on behalf of our various programs and services. There were a few friendly competitive conversations between our WestCare California family as they defended their respective teams - but everyone still came together with smiles at the end of the day!

Follow WestCare California on social media to read stories, follow our team's journey, and how we're growing throughout the state of California!


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2.10: Healing Sounds at Holy Cross

Articles from The Loop - California (February 2023)