My favorite path for "walk and talk" meetings is at the Waterfront in Homestead near Pittsburgh where the Great Allegheny Passage along the Monongahela River shows off an array of colors and commotion of barge traffic. Our river communities have a proud legacy of steel manufacturing, and are working to overcome challenging economic, health, and quality of life issues. My passion and experience with wellness and writing brings content alive in new programs and grant proposals, as described in the following projects in which I have partnered and taken a leadership role.
Healthy People 2020 Community Innovation Grant
There is a special place in my heart for programs that make physical activity accessible and enjoyable for people with disadvantages and disabilities, and enables everyone to be included and welcome in the community.
In 2011-12, Heart Resources, LLC partnered with the Steel Valley Council of Governments (now the Steel Rivers Council of Governments) to develop a Wellness Collaborative comprised of nonprofit organizations in Homestead, PA, an urban economically-distressed community in the Mon Valley near Pittsburgh. I assisted the agencies to develop a grant proposal and identify federal funding to start a shared fitness facility, purchase equipment and find qualified instructors to provide evidence-based physical fitness activities for 100 adults with mental, developmental and physical disabilities. I interviewed Peer Advisory Groups at each agency to give feedback about the activities and incentives to be offered in their program. The project received a $10,000 Healthy People 2020 Community Innovation Grant from the Office of Disease Prevention / Health Promotion in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Heart Resources, LLC agreed to distribute the concept paper and grant proposal as a model program in our grant training seminars and to anyone making the request on our Contact page.
SAMHSA Voice Awards Fellowship
I have served as a federal grant reviewer for SAMHSA’s National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative since 2012. My company has been a Participating Organization in the National Wellness Campaign and Healthy People 2020, and locally a Partner with LiveWell Allegheny.
I was honored to be selected as one of the eight advocates (from 40 national applicants) to serve a one-year paid federal Fellowship in the Voice Awards Program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The project provided training and mentoring in strategic communication skills to amplify voices and share important behavioral health messages. From January 1-December 31, 2013, I designed a public behavioral health campaign and provided 188 hours of service as a SAMHSA Voice Awards Fellow. I presented a compelling and timely message - my personal story of post-trauma wellness and the benefits of exercise in recovery - to 608 individuals at 16 events. I advocated for recovery in over a dozen media and social media placements. From May to September, I coached 14 weekly 5K fitness walking workouts with mental health consumers and staff at a local recovery agency culminating in their participation in the Pittsburgh Great Race 5K Fitness Walk during National Recovery Month. Heart Resources LLC provided sponsorship of participant registrations. I stay connected as an annual volunteer first-round judge for the SAMHSA Voice Awards Program and National Recovery Month Awards. Learn more at: http://www.samhsa.gov/voiceawards/fellows.asp.
From 2012 to 2015, I co-founded and served as a volunteer fitness coach and business sponsor of Turtle Team - a fitness walking team for people recovering from trauma, mental health problems and addictions. The weekly walk-and-talk workouts began in May (Mental Health Month) and culminated in participation at the Pittsburgh Great Race 5K Fitness Walk, a community-wide event in September (National Recovery Month). Heart Resources, LLC and another recovery-focused fitness business provided PR flyers, scholarships for race fees, t-shirts, and post-race awards to participants at two local mental health agencies. I am continuing to distribute information about the Turtle Team model. Please request it on the Contact page.
Post-Trauma Wellness Presentations
I have presented more than 500 health/mental health and fitness education and training sessions during my career. I have advocated for trauma-informed care as a guest speaker at numerous mental health professional training programs. I seek to inspire others through story-telling from an informed point-of-view about helpful approaches and tools for healing child abuse and finding a path to post-trauma wellness over a lifetime. I am a positive communicator who bridges the gap of understanding between providers, family members, and persons who are seeking recovery. I am the author of a book titled TELLINGS: From Wound to Wellspring (Outskirts Press, 2008) and an article for professionals, Finding Post-Trauma Wellness. The book and article are about the psychological and spiritual process of healing. The book is currently out of print (on Amazon) in preparation for a future update and new release. I offer TELLINGS readings and speak at events about healing, recovery, and living well after Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as experiencing abuse in a military family. Request more information on the Contact page.
"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it." ~ Anais Nin