30th Anniversary Celebration

June 15 - July 15

GPSN 30th Anniversary Celebration

IBM-30th-Anniversary-Blog
Grad-Party-Ideas-5816a2a95f9b581c0b77c25d
Grad-Party-Ideas-5816a2a95f9b581c0b77c25d
IMG_1214
gt-logo-gold
Dani in the garden
Dani in the garden

For the next 30 days, June 15 - July 15, we are focusing on and celebrating Georgia Parent Support Network’s 30th Anniversary by asking all of our friends and supporters to donate 30 dollars, one for each year. These funds will be used to decorate and add the finishing touches to the House of Hope. Daily for the next thirty days, I will write memories from the year that corresponds with the day. Stay tuned for more exciting information as we celebrate all month long!

Thursday, June 27, 2019 | The 13th year 2001 
When we hear the year 2001, we instantly remember the day of September the 11th, and most of us know exactly where we were at exactly 8:46 am eastern time. I had just had breakfast with Marquis Beazler, Ron Koon and Anna Bourque and had headed to the Loudermilk Conference just off Edgewood about a mile away. I remember it was a state meeting, and many of the people I had mentioned before were in the room. Norman called and said a plane had hit the World Trade Center we talked a minute then I told the others in the room while we were talking he said there is a second plane I think it must be a terrorist attack. And the rest is history no matter who you were, you went home and listened to the tv nonstop for days. Our lives in the United States changed forever. If you are old enough, do you remember how nice we all were to each other for a while? Another remarkable thing was how conversations about mental health services changed. Almost overnight, there was more talk about trauma and stress-related illnesses. In a country, many of us had felt safe from outside forces we no longer felt safe.
Meanwhile, Georgia kept building our Systems of Care. The Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health was two years old (1989) and the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health had just been released (1999). In other news, I graduated with my Ed.D also a major miracle.
Thursday, June 27, 2019 | The 13th year 2001 
When we hear the year 2001, we instantly remember the day of September the 11th, and most of us know exactly where we were at exactly 8:46 am eastern time. I had just had breakfast with Marquis Beazler, Ron Koon and Anna Bourque and had headed to the Loudermilk Conference just off Edgewood about a mile away. I remember it was a state meeting, and many of the people I had mentioned before were in the room. Norman called and said a plane had hit the World Trade Center we talked a minute then I told the others in the room while we were talking he said there is a second plane I think it must be a terrorist attack. And the rest is history no matter who you were, you went home and listened to the tv nonstop for days. Our lives in the United States changed forever. If you are old enough, do you remember how nice we all were to each other for a while? Another remarkable thing was how conversations about mental health services changed. Almost overnight, there was more talk about trauma and stress-related illnesses. In a country, many of us had felt safe from outside forces we no longer felt safe.
Meanwhile, Georgia kept building our Systems of Care. The Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health was two years old (1989) and the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health had just been released (1999). In other news, I graduated with my Ed.D also a major miracle.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | The 12th year 2000 
In 2000, the KidsNet System of Care strategy of bringing together agency leaders, advocates, and community leaders for the purpose of listening to everyone over a relatively long period of time accomplished something that Georgia had never done effectively before. It laid the foundation for the current Inter-agency Directors Team (IDT). If you do not know about the IDT, you are in for a treat. Not today but in a few days, I will tell you all about this wonderful group. I struggle for the right words to describe the IDT's work. It is a collaborative network or group, but after consideration, I will call it the "Change Agent Team." More to follow soon.
In 2000, I was at the end of my doctorate degree, and I never thought I would get that far. My last class was statistics, and it's not my strongest subject. My class had study groups, tutors, etc. We left nothing to chance. I must also say, I am not a great test taker either. I went to the test having studied all night long, cramming everything I possibly could into short term memory, and I took the test. There was no retake if I failed; I was simply out of school. I cried all the way home. I was sure I had failed, and I had let everyone down. The results were mailed (it was a long time ago) I had almost gotten over my depression when my grade came, and I passed.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | The 11th year 1999 
Through the years, GPSN has had the privilege of being a part of some really great programs. Today I want to write about ChAMPS, the Child and Adolescent Multidisciplinary Program System of Care. In 1999 DBHDD had 19 Regions, and Fulton County was Region Three. Earnestine Pittman was the Regional Director, and her right-hand person was Lynn Copeland. The state legislature had begun by funding a few regions each legislative session, and Fulton County was the last to be funded. It was deemed the most challenging area in the state to provide services to. For nine months, Earnestine brought a group of providers together. This group included Chris Homes, Creative Community Services, DFCS, GPSN, Grady Child Psychiatry, Inner Harbor, Northside Hospital, Odyssey Counseling Center, and Peachford Behavioral Health. We studied the literature and had the best consultants, including Beth Stroul and Karl Dennis, come to help us design the Fulton SOC. Community partners included Atlanta Public Schools, Department of Juvenile Justice, Fulton County Board of Education, Fulton DFCS, Fulton Juvenile Court, Fulton County MHDDAD and Georgia Regional Hospital-Atlanta. The services available were Assessment, Behavioral Aides, Day support, Day Treatment, Family Support Specialists, Flexible Funding, the Family Resource Center, Inpatient Stabilization, Respite Care, Service Coordination/Team Worker, Substance Abuse Treatment, Therapeutic Group Homes, and Therapeutic Foster Care.
Each partner was awarded a contract for what they did best. GPSN had asked for Case Management and flexible funding; however, Earnestine and Lynn contracted with GPSN for oversight of the entire project and billing. The contracts mandated that each partner be present at the staffing of any child we received a referral for. We met every Thursday to go over each child’s needs. It took time to work out all of the kinks, but within a year, we were able to provide instant, seamless services at an appropriate level of care to any family and child that was referred from any source. We were funded to provide services to 200 of the highest level youth ages 3-18, and we averaged providing services to over 600 families and youth a year. In my opinion, it was the most comprehensive and best Systems of Care there has ever been. ChAMPS operated for several years until things began to change (more on that later). ChAMPS succeeded because we had a shared vision, stable leadership, mutual respect for all partners, and belief in what we were doing. It was undoubtedly the best and most reliable service network I could ever imagine. Oh, the wonderful ChAMPS stories I wish I had time to tell.
Monday, June 24, 2019 | The 10th year 1998 
Thanks to all of you that are on this journey with us. The House of Hope is nearing completion. On July 15 GPSN will be 30 years old. I will have been officially employed at GPSN for 30 years, and there will be a triple celebration as we officially celebrate the opening of the House of Hope. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend our Open House on Monday, July 15 at 1382 Metropolitan Parkway. Drop in anytime between 4pm-8pm. We are still in the planning stage, but we do know there will be champagne and cake! More information to come.
Commissioner Frank Berry, Department of Community Health (in 1998 he was an employee of Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale Community Service Board, and Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald, Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (in 1998 she was employed by The Carter Center) were both early GPSN supporters and a moving force for children's mental health in Georgia. I do not know the exact year, but a long time ago Frank Berry, Chris Dendy, an ADHD expert and nationally famous author, and I (to a lesser degree) wrote a System of Care grant. It was not funded, but for a few years, we had the pleasure of going to what we dubbed "the loser's conference" to hone our skills. Obviously, it paid off. Several years later Frank lead a team into the winner's circle, and Georgia got its first SOC Grant, and Kids-Net was born. Judy served as a member of GPSN's board of directors for several years, and together, we looked at certification for parent peer specialists long before it became a reality.
There are no words that express the respect I have for Commissioner Berry and Commissioner Fitzgerald. Thank you both, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your hard work for our kids and families. There are many more memories coming in the near future.
Sunday, June 23, 2019 | The 9th year 1997
My 1997 calendar speaks of many things. I was in college, we were fostering a young lady from Cobb County, Georgia, GPSN was funded for the State of Georgia System of Care, and GPSN representatives were traveling all over the country to conferences and providing training. I was hired by Beth Stroul to consult with Georgetown University on the Georgetown Training Institutes (now the University of Maryland Training Institutes). Today my focus keeps returning to people who are my heroes/sheroes and the part they have had in GPSN’s wonderful journey and in changing the way the world views children’s mental health. I don’t know where to start and am afraid I’ll leave someone out … but I’ll continue adding people for the next 21 days.
The first people who helped me become involved were Norman, for making me know this is was what I was supposed to do, Dani who so willingly led me when I faltered, and Anna who made it all happen. Rheba is one of the best grant writers, and Blue has been around this work since the day he was born. After my family, DBHDD Commissioner John Gates, and DBHDD employees Ruth Coody, Dawne Morgan, Lucy Bingham, and Valerie Tuttle Roberts all encouraged me, gave me speaking parts at a time when I literally had no voice and, against all odds, assisted in printed and mailed our one-page newsletter. We traveled the state together visiting Community Service Boards as they started their Systems of Care for Children with Severe Emotional Disturbances and their families. Communities were very involved and excited. There were 19 Regional Boards at that time. Much of this is from memory so if I miss something, please email me.
Saturday, June 22, 2019 | The 8th year 1996 
1996 was the beginning of several meetings which remain active today (although their names have changed). There was a coalition of advocates called “Time for Change” which was the beginning of the coalition that is today called the Behavioral Health Services Coalition. I can’t exactly remember, but I think somewhere along the way it had another name, possibly the “Reach” Committee. The state had a program called the MATCH Committee which was comprised of local county committees. These are now the Local Inter-agency Planning (LIPT) agencies. Youth identified locally as needing a higher level of services were referred to the state MATCH committee. The state was “waking up” to the needs of youth who had mental illnesses and their families needs.
Friday, June 21, 2019 | The 7th year 1995 
Reader, I must tell you that I have saved, and I am not a saver, every calendar for the last 30 years and I am finding it extremely helpful. It is much more reliable than my memory. In 1995 I was President of Mental Health America, and my good friend and sometime partner in crime Cynthia Wainscott was the Executive Director. Cynthia found us an office approximately 12' x 22' feet next to her office on the corner of Peachtree and North Avenue in the Gables office/apartment building. Mental Health America had chapters statewide, and we visited those offices frequently. We could see the stage door to the Fox Theater, and we watched the stars come and go. The Fox also gave us free tickets to dress rehearsals!
Georgia funded the earliest Systems of Care on a regional basis, and the Albany Regional Board and the Community Service Board hired GPSN to come and consult on starting services for children and adolescents. We worked closely with the CSB Director, John Burns. These were exciting days. This was also the year that the Braves won the World Series and the parade started right in front of our office. There was a roof/balcony that we could observe the parade forming at close range. Dave Justice was one happy player that day and so was my grandson Blue!
Thursday, June 20, 2019 | The 6th year 1994
During the years 1992 and 1993, GPSN was housed in my husband Norman's machine shop and foundry. We applied to Sandoz Pharmaceutical for a grant, and they sent two really nice men to interview us. They seemed to have a good time, and as they departed, they said, "we have been strange places, but this is the strangest." It must have been alright because we got the grant.
Several things make each year stand out. In 1994 Dani was 18 years old and just finished high school. I might add that this was against all the odds. Everyone who had provided her care was sure she wouldn't graduate, but she did. Dani's last year at Grady High School was epic. I believe she would never have finished if she hadn't joined ROTC and Sergeant Major took her under his wing. He became her personal champion. His wife was a psychiatrist, and he was the perfect person to mentor Dani.
I'm only on day six of this narrative, and I'm overwhelmed by all of the memories that comprise the tapestry of GPSN's journey, and with it the journey of my family.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | The 5th year 1993
By year five, we belonged to many committees, work-groups, forums, etc. and we were beginning to get a grip on “the lay of the land” so to speak. Georgia Parent Support Network and the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH) were “born” in the same year(1989), and GPSN became the State Chapter of the FFCMH. Through the years, this relationship has been invaluable; we have peers and friends across the nation who have mentored and supported us as we have them. By year five, GPSN was becoming well known not only in Georgia but across the country. GPSN was assisting DBHDD in establishing Regional Systems of Care Statewide. Additionally, GPSN was beginning to venture into the world of fundraisers.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | The 4th year 1992
Continued from yesterday. As described yesterday, we were now a very grassroots, small, non-profit organization providing a service; this was never in our plan or our vision. Should GPSN provide services or not was the question. During the first board meeting of 1992, the board voted on whether or not we could provide services. The vote was a tie, and each side was absolutely sure they were right.  The board agreed that I could call Karl Dennis “the Father of Wraparound,” speaker, lecturer, and friend to the family movement. I did not know Karl; I had never met Karl; however, I had heard him speak several times. We called and talked with Karl at length, to give you his short answer he said the best advocates are the ones who know first-hand what they are talking about from all angles. Yes, providing services would make GPSN a better advocacy organization. I believe with all of my heart that it has. If his answer had been different, we would have closed within 30 days; we had no resources and no prospect of any. Since that day, our friendship has grown, our families have enjoyed many good times together. Until tomorrow…
Monday, June 17, 2019 | The 3rd Year, 1991. 
Wasn’t Dani cute; yesterday we attached one of my all-time favorite pictures of her. Year three brought about many changes and actually is probably the reason GPSN is still around. We received a call from a mom wanting help for her son. I will give you the short version of the story and then tell you how it changed GPSN forever and brought about one of the best and longest lasting friendships of my life. We placed the son with another parent for two weeks then help mom “get things together” these things included IEP, chores around the house, exploring what supports were available for her and getting her signed up, while just giving her a few days to relax. She returned to her work during this time. Her son came home, and the rest is history with the supports in place; they did well. We followed her for about a year. Fast forward about 12 years, I received a call from mom asking if I remembered her and of course, I did. She told me she just wanted to thank GPSN and that it was her sons first day of his college career. He was attending Georgia Tech on an academic scholarship. The Clayton CSB had been involved with the plan we had put in place and ask if we could help with other youth, we said yes and received our first contract for Respite Care which eventually turned into Respite and Therapeutic Foster Care.  Tomorrow I will talk about how it changed GPSN forever.
Sunday, June 16, 2019 | The 2nd Year, 1990. 
Georgia Parent Support Network began as stated before on July 15, 1989; however, it started with nothing except the paperwork necessary to start an organization. There was no office, money, staff, or even typewriter/early edition computer. In fact, for the first 18 months, GPSN existed on our dining room table where we mailed letters, accumulated contacts, and resources and talked to parents. Our very first donation was a roll of stamps from an adult mental health consumer. It was a hard year for our family, Dani was 14 years old and was transitioning from Hillside Hospital where she had been an inpatient for over 3 years to an outdoor therapeutic center in Pine Mountain, Georgia where she would remain for 14 months. More to follow tomorrow describing the third years of GPSNs journey.
Saturday, June 15, 2019 | The 1st Year, 1989
For three years, 1987-1989 the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) (not the name at the time) sent families to Washington, DC to attend a series of meetings informally known as “Families as Allies.” Confidentially the families called these meetings “Professionals as Allies.” Whichever you agree with this was the beginning of the national movement to include and support families of children with severe emotional disturbances (SED). I was fortunate to be chosen to attend these meetings, and it changed, over time, the lives of every one of our family members as well as the lives of many others. As a result of these meetings, on July 15, 1989, 30 people met in Macon, Georgia, and GPSN was “born.” The group consisted of families, a legislator, mental health providers from all over Georgia and “state” folks. It has been a long and winding road from July 15, 1989, till now as our anniversary approaches I have been thinking a lot about the many miracles we have encountered and of course about the few tough times. Without the people, we met who became our friends, advisors, peers, companions, and our heart, there is no way that GPSN would have survived. Without all of the many people we have had the pleasure of working with, those still with us and those who have gone on to great lives and careers, we would not have survived. The words are hard to write, memories flood my mind. Thank you, everyone, who has been with us on this long and winding road and for being part of our Journey. As you all know, I believe in miracles, and I think we have been living one for the last 30 years.
For the next 30 days, we are focusing on and celebrating the Georgia Parent Support Network’s 30th Anniversary.
Year 1- Most of our work was done at home on our dining room table, and we used our home phone to talk to people all over the state and nation. I read a lot and attended many meeting trying to understand how the government systems that served our children worked. And I talk a lot to families, parent, grandparent, and others caring for children with emotional disturbances, who called looking for services. One of the first calls I got from a government agency was from a state hospital employee in a leadership position who asked me to advocate for a young man who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The person calling said he had no family, and he was not going to get services or care, please come and be his advocate. And we did.

Start Gifting

30 DAYS 30 DOLLARS

SUPPORT A WORTHY CAUSE

Fundraising ideas for schools, churches, and youth sports teamsThermometer By ABC Fundraising®