I'm the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County (MHA) and a person in sustained recovery. MHA has partnered with St. Luke's Episcopal Church to create Father Bernard's Blessed Biscuits. Why a church and a peer based mental health agency? This idea flowed from two places: One from Father Luke Fodor at St. Luke's, who brought the
idea of the dog biscuits, and the second from myself and the MHA’s experiences in strengthening the recovery ecosystem in Jamestown.
We have a growing support structure in Chautauqua County when people enter into recovery. Some of it is based here at the Mental Health Association. Many of the supports also flow from the clinical settings that treat people. There are also 12 step meetings and faith-based supports.
Yet when people step out of that circle, or don’t fit into it in the first place, there's not a lot of support in the community. Our goal is to expand the support within the Mental Health Association to the whole system of community, including the education, business and industrial sectors. A recovery ecosystem. We want to pull the strengths of all of these organizations together to provide supports, wherever they are needed, to people on a path of wellness.
We also want to provide resources to organizations that are working with people dealing with chaotic drug use or mental health challenges. We see this type of relationship-where businesses and sectors support employees in recovery, and we in turn support businesses supporting people in recovery, as something to strengthen and strive for.
That's our goal with Father Bernard's Blessed Biscuits-to provide support in the business, social, and family structures through our partnership with St. Luke's and other community organizations. Together, we can build an ecosystem of recovery, we can do better. There is so much to be excited about.