Stomping Out Stigma

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

May is Mental Health Month and this year’s theme focuses on Life with a Mental Illness. 

DePaul staff and clients participated in several area events aimed at stomping out the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness.

NAMI Rochester Walk

Nearly 50 DePaul staff and residents participated in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk in Rochester, New York in early-May. The DePaul Stigma Stompers, including staff and residents from DePaul’s Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) Apartments, and the DePaul Recreation team, including staff and clients from Administration, Ridgeview Commons and the Carriage Factory Treatment Apartments, Elmgrove and Lyell Road Community Residences, and Cornerstone, Edgerton Square and Parkside Single Room Occupancy Programs, raised about $1,000 in support of people with psychiatric disorders and raised awareness to help change the way Americans view mental illness. NAMIWalks Rochester raised over $200,000 with this year’s walk on May 7!


Pictured here, NOTA resident Danita F. prepares to throw a pie in Program Director Deb White’s face during a NAMI Walk fundraiser as NOTA Assistant Residential Manager Samantha MacDonald, resident Karen S., Medication Coordinator I Gabe Cordova, Residential Counselor II Ellen Sadler and Residential Manager Chris Nutting cheer her on.


Pictured here is NOTA’s team at the NAMIWalks Rochester event including (back row, left to right) residents Chris H. and Mary N., Residential Counselor II Ellen Sadler, (middle row) Jessica L. (Carriage Factory), Lisa W. (family member), Residential Counselor II Brianna Festa, Meagan Licata, and Megan Thull, and residents Kerri D., (front row, left to right) Heather M., Debra O., Assistant Residential Manager Samantha McDonald and residents Ed M. and Michael D.


Flash Mob Aims to End the Stigma

Staff and clients from Seneca Square and Kensington Square, two DePaul Single Room Occupancy Programs in Buffalo, New York participated in the Restoration Society’s 4th Annual Flash Mob in May. The event aims to increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of mental illness and helps break the stigma surrounding it.


Pictured here are (front row, left to right) Seneca Square Residential Service Coordinators Michelle Setlock and Emily Rivera, Seneca Square Program Director Heidi Augustyn, (middle row, left to right) Kensington Square resident Carey B., Community Living Supervisor Shirley Barnes., Kensington Square resident Jeff S., Seneca Square resident James C., Kensington Square resident  Analee M., (back row left to right) Kensington Square Assistant Director Robert Potozniak, Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health Michael R. Ranney, and Seneca Square residents Eric F., Dennis D., Donald M. and Clinton H.

If you post about Mental Health Month on social media, use the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike on social media during May. Everything will be collected at

What Mental Illness Feels Like

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

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May is Mental Health Month and this year’s theme focuses on Life with a Mental Illness. 

Whether you have a mental illness or you know someone who does, all are invited to share what a mental illness feels like through photos, words, video, etc. with the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike.

According to Mental Health America, “sharing is the key to breaking down negative attitudes and misperceptions surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.”

To help erase the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness, here are some of the best visual representations and quotes about mental health we found. Share yours in the comment section below! 

If phyical ailments were treated like mental illness










Remember, use the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike on social media during May. Everything will be collected at


From Russia to the Rochester View Apartments

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

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It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy road from Russia to Rochester but the Kipermans have finally found a place to call home at DePaul’s Rochester View Apartments in Henrietta, New York, which features enhanced supports to accommodate tenants who may be Deaf, hard of hearing and using American Sign Language (ASL).

Husband Yefim, 77 and wife Julia, 70, were both born Deaf. Yefim is originally from the Ukraine while Julia was born in Russia. Married for 44 years in October, Julia and Yefim have a daughter, Regina Kiperman-Kiselgof, who was also born Deaf.

Julia has one older sister who was born Deaf, but otherwise both came from hearing families. Julia and Yefim attended schools for the Deaf in Russia and the Ukraine. After graduating high school, Julia attended a liberal arts college for the Deaf in Russia while Yefim went on to a vocational school for tailoring.

Rochester View Apartments Exterior“In tailor school, everyone was Deaf, but after vocational learning, it was a fully hearing world, so I had to learn how to communicate with hearing people,” said Yefim. “There were no interpreters so we had to do a lot of writing back and forth. I would use my own voice when I could to speak for myself, so they could understand what I was saying, and I also learned a lot about watching people and picking up on cues. We worked it out.”

Creating garments and coats for men and women, Yefim earned a reputation as one of the best tailors in his area, and was often called upon by politicians and other military personnel when they would visit from outside the country. Julia spent 24 years as a quality inspector. In 1986, the catastrophic nuclear accident occurred in Chernobyl, about 140 miles from where they lived in the Ukraine.

“A lot of people talked about how that would affect the children,“ said Julia. “There was a lot of concern about Regina being exposed to radiation.”

The family was only able to acquire one plane ticket to fly Regina out of the Ukraine and into St. Petersburg where she lived with her grandmother and relatives for months. In 1994, Julia, Yefim and Regina made the decision to move to Buffalo, New York where Julia’s mother, sister and brother-in-law had already settled.

“It was really tough to give up what you’re used to in your country − the culture, your family, and I had a very good career that I had to give up to come here −but I decided it was for the good of my wife to be with her family and for the protection of my daughter,” said Yefim.

The couple began learning ASL at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo. In 1995, Regina moved to Rochester to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf where she received her master’s degree in Career and Human Resource Development. Her parents soon followed, settling into another apartment program which was not well-suited to their needs.

“There were no other Deaf people living in those apartments,” said Julia. “It was just the two of us and it was very isolating.”

Regina, who is now married with two girls of her own, heard about DePaul’s Rochester View Apartments and encouraged her parents to check it out.

RVA Collage

“It was a very hard decision for them to move, at their age, and having to pack up and give up everything they had been used to for 11 years.”

But they are so glad they did!

“We’re so thankful that our daughter supported us and encouraged us to go through the process to make this move happen,” said Julia.

Regina, who now works full-time at nearby RIT, said she feels at ease knowing her parents’ needs are being met.

“The two of them appear happier and calmer than before when they did not have open communication where they lived,” said Regina. “There’s a lot of bragging that’s happening in their lives now. It’s not only mom, but dad who’s bragging.”

Julia said they love their new home and their neighbors.

“We can have conversations with people when we need to. We can communicate with the officer manager,” said Julia. “The apartment is bright, roomy and equipped, but really the social part is most important for us. Before we were so isolated. Here, we have a feeling of calm.”

Learn more about DePaul’s Rochester View Apartments and our other affordable housing options in Rochester, Batavia and Buffalo, New York.

What’s Cooking at DePaul ?

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator 

What's cooking at DePaul

There are more than good smells emanating from training kitchens in a number of DePaul’s mental health programs in Western New York. In addition to learning cooking skills, clients are practicing vocational and social skills that are valuable on their road to recovery.

Rochester View Apartments

RVA photo
Rochester View Apartments residents Monica and Barry learn how to peel and cut carrots with Sara, an intern with the University of Rochester’s Deaf Wellness Center.

Interns from the University of Rochester’s Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) have been leading residents who are Deaf and hard of hearing at the Rochester View Apartments (RVA) in Henrietta, New York, in bi-weekly cooking classes covering food safety, proper ways to handle cutting knives and more. Fifteen residents participated in the first class which involved learning how to peel and cut a variety of fruits and vegetables.

“This is a useful experience for residents because they come together and practice hands-on cooking skills which can be applied in their daily lives,” said RVA Property Manager Denise Fry.

Halstead Square

Residents at Halstead Square, a Single Room Occupancy Program in Rochester, New York, are using their community’s training kitchen for classes with DePaul Cook Mike Cook. After discussing kitchen tools that would be useful in their rooms such as plates, utensils and microwave safe dishes, residents headed to the store to purchase food that could be easily prepared. Foodlink, a regional food hub, has also provided some ingredients for meals that can be prepared in residents’ apartments. Classes are slated to continue in 2016.

Halstead photo
Resident Nairobi A. works with DePaul Cook Mike Cook in Halstead Square’s training kitchen.

Kensington Square

In December, the smell of Christmas cookies wafted from the training kitchen at Kensington Square, a DePaul Single Room Occupancy Program in Buffalo, New York. A peer-educator from the Restoration Society led residents in a lesson on holiday baking. Formal cooking classes will begin soon.

“This is a valuable addition to Kensington Square as it gives residents a chance to learn or relearn the skills necessary to move on to a more independent apartment where they can cook for themselves,” said Program Director Jill Schmidt.

Ridgeview Commons

April Miller and Victor W.
April Miller of Foodlink works with resident Victor W. in the kitchen at Ridgeview Commons.

Residents at DePaul’s Ridgeview Commons Treatment Apartment Program in Rochester, New York have utilized their training kitchen for a number of classes offered through Foodlink. Most recently, they’ve learned how to properly store food in the refrigerator, healthy nutrition habits and how to prepare meals on a budget.

“The training kitchen is a valuable resource in a client’s road to recovery because it teaches them how to properly prepare meals, and how to utilize cooking as a coping skill,” said Program Manager Rebecca Barnes.

Seneca Square

At Seneca Square, a Single Room Occupancy Program in Buffalo, New York, about 20 residents have been working on everything from basic kitchen safety to identifying and following recipes. Residents have prepared various desserts in “Baking with Brandy” classes, led by Community Living Supervisor Brandy Mathis.

In December, Seneca Square began hosting ‘open night in the training kitchen’ available to any residents who want to bring in food to cook.

Seneca Square residents Erick K. and Clinton H. prepare food in the community’s training kitchen.

“It’s a great opportunity, as they have the benefit of staff being present to help them with anything they may need and other residents can learn from the experience as well,” said Program Director Heidi Augustyn.


Thomas B. and Pam Maglier, Dietary Director and Office Manager
PROS client Thomas B. works with Dietary Director and Office Manager Pam Maglier on a cooking lesson.

Enrollees in DePaul’s Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program are using the training kitchen at DePaul’s City Center in Rochester, New York to learn skills that are valuable on their road to recovery as they develop vocational and social skills necessary for living independently. The purpose of all recovery units, including the kitchen, is to practice skills used to effectively manage symptom-related barriers, so they can get and keep jobs, said Program Director Kathy Curtis-Rubin.

“Examples of this would be practicing skills to manage anger, or anxiety, or stay focused and on task, not being distracted by symptoms,” said Curtis-Rubin. “The end result is prepared food for a great meal, with people learning to implement skills to manage barriers caused by their symptoms in the process.”

#HaveTheConvo During Problem Gambling Awareness Month

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator


Did you know that over 5 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction? 

It’s a startling statistic, especially when only a fraction of those people seek help. That’s why The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is raising awareness for problem gambling this March with National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM).

2016’s theme is Have the Conversation (#HaveTheConvo). Get the facts before you start a conversation by checking out the fact sheets, infographics and more offered by the NCPG.

DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence- Rochester Area (NCADD-RA) and the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) also offer free tool kits, infographics and ads:

(Click images to view larger)

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Recognize the signs of problem gambling Copy

For more information on problem gambling, including a parent tool kit and YOU(th) Decide materials, please contact Jennifer Faringer, NCADD-RA Director, at (585) 719-3480 or

If you share about PGAM on social media, make sure to use the #pgam and #HaveTheConvo hashtags!

Wall to Wall Love for ‘Suddenly10’ Family

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator 

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They say when one door closes, a window opens. When Rebecca Nerestant and her husband Himler walked through the door of DePaul’s former North Chili Community Residence in North Chili, New York, they knew immediately they had found their new home.

“We did a walk through, and were amazed with the place,” said Rebecca. “It was everything we needed. It even had a few extra fridges and freezers which come in handy with a large family.”

The Nerestants were a family of five until July 2015 when Rebecca’s sister-in-law suddenly passed away, leaving five children in need of a home. Rebecca, Himler and their three children – Ezekiel, 3, Hadassah, 2, and Gideon, under one-year-old – gladly made room in their lives for their nieces, nephews and cousins Remiah, 16, Joseph, 15, Brianna, 12, Trinity, 11 and Riley, 10.

North Chili - Exterior reducedThe family lived at Pearce Memorial Church’s Mission Home until finding the North Chili residence. In addition to being in the Churchville-Chili school district and close to the family’s church community, Rebecca said DePaul’s former North Chili community residence had enough space for everyone.

Since arriving in Rochester, the Nerestants have been the recipients of dozens of gestures of kindness and thousands of dollars in donations. Community volunteers and area businesses have helped transition the North Chili home to an aesthetic more suited to a family of ten.

“We’ve been blown away by the generosity of DePaul,” Rebecca said. “They opened their doors when others may have shut them. They put their brains together and made it work for us.”

Keep up with the Suddenly10 family on their Facebook page and on Twitter!

Doll Therapy For People with Alzheimer’s Disease

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

When the Comfort Companion doll was placed in her hands, Anna broke out in a rare kind of radiant smile that clearly came from deep in her heart.

Anna’s smile and those on the faces of other residents of Twelve Oaks were initiated by a feeling of comfort, something those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia both need and want.

Twelve Oaks Comfort Companion Collage

Recently, residents of the DePaul Senior Living Community in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, got just that with an anonymous donation of several Comfort Companion dolls and dogs.

Comfort Companion products are “designed keeping in mind symptoms and challenges of communication, loneliness, and memory loss that people with dementia may be facing” with the goal to “bring comfort & joy into the lives of loved ones and caregivers.”

Similar to the myriad of benefits gained from music therapy, the demeanor of people with Alzheimer’s disease may improve with the stimulation of “nurturing” a doll. At Twelve Oaks, the companionship provided by the stuffed dolls and dogs has already proven successful.

“Mary rarely says anything but she will talk to you about the doll!” said Anna Buford, Activities Director at Twelve Oaks. The dolls have been a hit, according to Anna, because they help residents recall the past.

Watch residents’ initial reactions to the Comfort Companion dolls in this video!


DePaul Senior Living Communities provide the comforts of home, a commitment to enhancing quality of life, and personal care services in a supportive environment that promotes independence. Learn more about our communities in New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.