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

MHM 2016 Social Media Images-FB Share Image.png

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


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.”

Wall to Wall Love for ‘Suddenly10’ Family

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator 

Suddenly 10 Family.jpg

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!

Veterans Day: Honoring Our Heroes (VIDEO)

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

Veterans Day is an opportunity to recognize some of the 23 million brave men and women who have selflessly served our country and risked their lives to protect our freedoms. DePaul has the honor of caring for many veterans across our programs in New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Join us in honoring their sacrifices with this special tribute video:

Arthur Abramowski, Army
Served in Germany (helped liberate German concentration camps) during World War II

Charlie Aponte, Army, Corporal 150 Field Artillery
Served in Korea during the Korean War

Felton Baker, Army

Frank Ballew, Army, T3, 142nd Obaum Battalion
Served in France, the Philippines, and Japan during World War II

Claude Barger, Army, T-5, M50 Engineer
Served in the South Pacific during World War II

Clarence Barr, Army, Third Regiment Corporal
Served in Korea during the Korean War

James “Toby” Birch, Navy, Radar First Class
Served during the Korean War

Claude Branch, Army, Private First Class
Served during World War II

Gary Brown, Army, Specialist 5th Class/Sergeant (in Finance & Payroll Department)
Served in Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Bobby Buhler, Marines, Tank Commander
Served during the Korean War

Fredrick “Howard” Bumgarner, Army, Private
Served in the Philippines during World War II

Daniel Burns, Army, Private
Served in Panama during the Korean War

James Calafitis, Navy, First Class Seaman
Served in Okinawa and other Pacific venues during World War II

Patricia Carberry, US Air Force Nurse Corps
Served in South Dakota, England, Alabama, Montana, Saudi Arabia

James David Carpenter, Navy, E4 and Marines, E6
Served in Norfolk, Virginia and Quantico, Virginia

Darrell Cathey, Army, E-1 Private
Served in New Jersey & Louisiana

Philip Cissell, Navy, Sergeant
Served in Korea during the Korean War

Don Clar, Army, Radar Crew Chief
Served in Panama during World War II

Roland ‘Ron’ Claus, Army, Commanding Officer
Served in the United States during the Korean War

Billy Clontz, Navy, 3rd Class Petty Officer
Served in Korea during the Korean War

Dorothy Belle Cole, Air Force, Airplane Dispatcher
Served at the Bolling Field Air Force Base

Charles Colletta, Navy, Motor Machinist Mate
Served in the Pacific during World War II

William Conway, Army

Frank Courson, Navy, Petty Officer 3rd Class
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Frank DiNitto, Navy, Petty Officer
Served in Africa, Europe and Middle East during World War II

Jack Dodgson, Navy, Seaman
Served in the Pacific and Mediterranean during World War II

Charles Doerrer, Airforce, Sergeant
Served in England during the Vietnam War

Harold Drillings, Navy
Served during World War II

Larry ‘Joe’ Elmore, Navy, 2nd class Signalman
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

William Estridge, Army and Air Force
Served in Korea during the Korean War

David Farrior
Served during World War II

Philip Fuoco, Army, Corporal
Served in Germany, France, Italy, Korea during World War II and the Korean War

Joseph Furfure, Marines, Private
Served during World War II

Arthur Gay

William Gibbons

Arthur Gray

Joseph Green

David Hackett, Army, Sargent
Served in Italy

Roderick Harrison, Air Force, Paratrooper 101st 501 Airborne
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

John “Wesley” Heafner, Navy, Seaman First Class
Served in the Chesapeake Bay and Bermuda

John Hicks, National Guard, Specialist 4
Served in Moundsville, West Virginia

Richard Higgins, Army, Combat Medic
Served in Korea during World War II

Paul Hooley, Navy, E4 on aircraft carrier
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Leroy Horne, Army, Sargent
Served in Germany

Harold Israel, Army, T5
Served in Honolulu and Osaka, Japan during World War II

Orland Johnson, Army Corporal and Medic
Served in Florida during World War II

Troy Johnson, Army, Specialist 4
Served in Korea during the Korean War

Bill Johnson, Army, Corporal
Served during World War II

Joseph Kast, Navy, Seamen Apprentice (USS Forestale)
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Wilborn “Cleo” Kincaid, Navy, Gunner’s Mate (Petty Officer) 3rd Class
Served in San Diego, CA

Jack King, Navy, Signalman
Served in Korea during World War II

Paul Lang, Marines, Lance Corporal
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Joe Larkin, Army

Barry Leveridge

Leon Link, Air Force, Second Lieutenant
Served in Bedford, MA

Herbert Mace, Army, Private First Class
Served in Richmond, Virginia and Norfolk, Virginia

Richard Marquard

Earl “Curly” Mayer, Navy, Commander
Served in Memphis, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and
Annapolis during the Vietnam War

Bernard “Bernie” Metro, Army, Private First Class, Mailman on base
Served in Japan

Johnnie Montgomery, Sergeant
Served in New Foundland, Alaska, Canada, Colorado

Jim Moore, Army, E5
Served at the Vietnam Med Clinic during the Vietnam War

Robert Pawlik, Army, Medical Corps
Served during World War II

Benedict “Ben” Pepitone, Navy, First Class Seaman
Served in Sampson, NY, Panama Canal, Japan and the Pacific during WWII
Escorted Franklin D. Roosevelt to London

Arthur Piccarreto, Army, Army Airforce Radar Bombardment (Electronics)
Served in Italy during World War II

Dennis Presley, Army, Private 1st Class and Teletype Operator (Morse code)
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Thomas Puett, Army, Foot Infantry, 359th Regiment, 3rd Battalion
Served in Germany during World War II

Peter Rimsa, Army, Corporal
Served in Korea during the Korean War

Kenneth Roberts, Army

Francis Ruggiero, Navy

Michael Ryan

Robert Rybarczyk, Navy, Second Electrician
Served in Korea during the Korean War

James “Steve” Sherrill, Navy Reserve
Served in Orlando, Florida and Galveston, Texas

Robert Short, Army and Navy

Elvin Skibinski, Coast Guard, Seaman E3 First Class
Served in the Arctic Circle

James Slate, Army, Private
Served in Northern France and Central Europe during World War II

Ruth Smith, Navy, Lieutenant Commander
Served during World War II

Benjamin Springett, Airforce, Sergeant E4
Served in McChord Air Force Base during the Vietnam War

Brad Stanton, Air Force, Sergeant, Intercept Radio Operator
Served in Kyushu, Japan during the Korean War

Oliver Stoddard, Army

Robert Stoletz, Army, Sergeantand Army Engineer Instructor
Served in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Korea during the Korean War

Lewis “Lew” Swartwout, Navy, Construction Battalion (SeaBees) Special Unit, Motor Machinist 3rd Class
Served in the South Pacific during World War II

Charles Testa, Army, Specialist Second Class
Served in San Antonio, Texas during the Korean War

Bobby Thomas, Army, Private First Class
Served in Germany during the Vietnam War

Dan Troy, Air Force, A/1C Airman First Class
Served in the Philippines during the Korean War

Anthony Vaccarelli, Navy, Bowman Mate/Sailor

Charles VanDeMar, Navy ROTC, Officer
Served during the Korean War

Ted Vargas, US Merchant Marine
Served during World War II

John Vitale, Air Force, Airman First Class
Served during the Vietnam War

William Wells, Navy

James Westbrook, Army, Private First Class
Served in Jackson, South Carolina

Dale Wiggins, Army, Private First Class
Served in Fort Gordon and Fort Bragg during the Vietnam War

Ted Wilfong, Army, Private First Class
Served in Korea during the Korean War

George Williams

William (Bill) Wooten, US Army, First Lieutenant
Served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Elizabeth Sams Dear Veteran

“Dear Veteran” co-written by Elizabeth Sams and her mother Renee Sams is the powerful song used in this video.

Learn more about Elizabeth’s background and what this song means to her:

What our Men and Women of Service Mean To Me

It is vital that our country remember and appreciate the value of our Veterans and all men and women of service. Every day our generation is being handed most everything, while our Troops are sacrificing for us. My platform is to teach the kids of my generation to understand that Freedom is not free.

It is clear that my peers, most especially, do not realize that these Troops work to keep our nation safe and strong, while we selfishly take all of our liberties for granted. We need to focus and truly realize that these people leave their homes and families with a possibility of never, ever coming back.  They put themselves in harm’s way each and every day so that we may enjoy the benefits of America.

I co-wrote the song, Dear Veteran, as a way to get people’s attention through music.  Mom and I spent many hours discussing this issue and we just started writing our thoughts down.  The next thing we knew, mom asked me to create a melody for the work, and I did.  Then, to complete my community service project I sang it at a Veteran’s Event and recorded it. (Read more)

Neighborhood of the Arts Butterfly Release

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

One month after a butterfly habitat was installed at DePaul’s Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) Apartments, the newest residents arrived to check out their new home. Seneca Park Zoo Society Outreach Coordinator Tim Fowler arrived on July 22nd with five monarch butterflies to be released. Before they could take to the wind, though, NOTA residents learned how the insect evolved from an egg into a beautiful winged creature.

A butterfly’s life begins as an egg no bigger than the size of a pin. After about five days, a caterpillar emerges to feed on milkweed, growing from about the size of a grain of rice to the size of a pinky finger. After two weeks, the caterpillar enters into a chrysalis where it develops into an adult monarch butterfly.

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Over the winter, butterflies will either hibernate as a caterpillar or adult butterfly or they can migrate to Mexico, where they gather in large numbers, coating the trees in the mountainous forests of Mexico. Around Valentine’s Day, the butterflies begin their pilgrimage back to North America, stopping in Texas to lay eggs. That generation of butterflies perishes, leaving their offspring to finish off their journey back.

In Mexico, Fowler said, there are signs that the monarch butterfly population is in trouble. In 1996, butterflies in Mexico took up about 45 acres of land, or three times the size of the Seneca Park Zoo. This past year, the butterflies took up just over one acre of land, or one-fifth the size of the zoo.

The easiest way to increase the butterfly population is to create a backyard butterfly habitat similar to the one installed at NOTA through the Daisy Marquis Jones Butterfly Beltway Program about a month ago, according to Fowler. The NOTA butterfly habitat is one of 160 sites in Monroe County, 20 of which have been added this year.

“The butterflies we release today will stay in this general area, reproduce and it’s likely that their children will be the generation which heads to Mexico this winter,” Fowler said as he placed the delicate insects onto the back of residents’ hands before they caught the wind in their wings and headed off on the next leg of their journey.

Butterflies on the Wing at DePaul’s Neighborhood of the Arts Apartments

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

The ground was hard and the sun bore down on residents and staff at DePaul’s Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) Apartments as they used shovels and teamwork to dig holes in the courtyard.

One by one, perennials such as Kickin’ Lilac Blue Aster, Orange Perfection Phlox, Purple Coneflower and Goldenrod were placed into the holes. The goal wasn’t just to add some color to the landscaping, but more importantly, to create a habitat for butterflies, an insect population that is sadly on the decline.

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Butterflies aren’t just beautiful, as Seneca Park Zoo Society Community Outreach Coordinator Tim Fowler explained. They are also responsible for pollinating the flowers resulting in a bounty of fruits and vegetables.

“There’s a $15 billion dollar agriculture industry riding on the backs of pollinators,” he said during a visit to NOTA with the Daisy Marquis Jones Butterfly Beltway Program.

The butterfly Beltway Seneca Park Zoo DePaul

A butterfly can lay up to 200 eggs at once which it will distribute over many plants to increase their chances of survival. Each species of butterfly lays its eggs on a specific type of plant. For example, a monarch will only lay its eggs on a milkweed plant.

According to information from the Butterfly Beltway Program, scientists and monarch experts say there has been a nearly 60 percent decline in milkweed due to farmers using herbicides on genetically-modified fields of soy and corn. Hence, the migratory monarch butterfly, has seen its population decrease by an estimated 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“Fluctuations in butterfly populations can be a sign the environment is in danger,” said Fowler.

Taking measures like preserving electricity and reducing the use of herbicides in farming can have a positive impact on butterfly populations.

“The easiest thing we can do ourselves is increase butterfly habitats,” said Fowler, explaining how the various plants now at NOTA will provide for the butterfly’s full life cycle.

NOTA Butterfly flower collage
Butterflies need plants for water, oxygen, food or nectar, shelter to hide from predators or to enter a chrysalis, and to use as a host plant on which to lay its eggs.

“There must be one plant blossoming at least through the whole season,” said Fowler.

The Seneca Park Zoo Society returns to NOTA with the Daisy Marquis Jones Butterfly Beltway Program in July to release butterflies with residents and staff.

“Our residents were engaged and fascinated about the butterfly habitats, structure, and what they could do to protect them,” said NOTA Assistant Manager Samantha MacDonald. “As our garden plants grow, our anticipation builds. We can’t wait for the butterflies to breathe new life into our courtyard.”