June 2020 Message to Our Members

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June 2020 Message to Our Members


Surviving this Season Together

“To everything there is a season. And a time to every purpose under Heaven.”
-Turn, Turn, Turn by Pete Seeger

Together, we are navigating what might be the most difficult season ever experienced by New York’s mental health housing providers—and that is saying a lot. I doubt any of us, as we rang in 2020, would have predicted that, in a few short weeks, the world would be turned upside down due to a global pandemic, which led to unthinkable death and economic disaster, followed by protests and riots in cities across America as our nation struggles to address racial injustice.

Facing just one of these challenges is enough to cause anxiety and fear—but all three at once has led to an unsustainable environment where mental health advocacy has never been more important. That said, although difficult, there is a purpose for this time. In life, things happen, when they are supposed to happen, for a reason. We don’t always understand why something is happening, but we are wise to learn from each season and plan; we must be prepared when we face these challenges again, a situation that is highly foreseeable.

Over the past several weeks, the response of our members and their amazing staff has been nothing short of heroic. You embraced new guidelines, technologies and procedures. Your ingenuity, resourcefulness and creativity ensured continuity of care. With budgets already strained, nearly to the point of breaking, you found a way to do what had to be done. Against the greatest of odds, despite risks to your own health, you kept going, day after day, providing care for 40,000 of New Yorks most vulnerable citizens. For many of the people you serve, you were all they had to help pull them through this crisis. You are our heroes.

This unprecedented time also coincided with the retirement of long-time executive director, Toni Lasicki. Transitioning leadership in the midst of a pandemic, and not at all under the circumstances either of us envisioned, was not easy, but it was important because we didn’t want to miss any opportunity to help you during this critical time. Inspired by the dedication of our members and their staff as they pressed on, I became engaged in the important work of ACL/ACLAIMH four weeks prior to my official start date, and Toni has been working tirelessly, even into the final hours of her tenure. Her passion for our community and our members is evident in our organization’s tremendous success in securing much needed funding. Although we must continue to push for adequate rates, Toni’s advocacy over nearly two decades has led to OMH Housing receiving more increases than any other service in the community mental health system. We will come together to celebrate her meaningful contributions to those who depend on
mental health housing as soon as possible.

As we move forward together, you can expect to see a continuation of member benefits that are the hallmark of our organization, including advocacy, resources, educational and networking opportunities and information needed to help you do an even better job caring for the people you serve. Now, more than ever, we need a strong and unified voice informing state decision-makers that mental health housing saves lives and saves money. In addition, we want to continue to listen and respond to the challenges you face, which have only been exacerbated during this uncertain time. Please let us know how we can help you plan for and prepare to do the important work you do. Working together, we can survive the most difficult of life’s seasons, and continue to move our important mission forward.

Sebrina Barrett
ACL Executive Director

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