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 http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.


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.”

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.

Celebrating Survival in Hopes of Finding a Cure

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

Pam Morrell Race for the Cure collage

The night before the three mile race, Pam Morrell Administrator of Wexford House, a DePaul Senior Living Community in Denver, North Carolina had difficulty falling asleep. On Saturday, October 17, she eagerly awoke with great hope for the 2015 Komen North Central Alabama Race for the Cure, an event which raises awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivorship and honors those who have lost the battle with the disease.

A breast cancer survivor herself, Morrell lost her mother on November 13, 2010 to the disease.

Pam Morrell Race for the Cure Wexford House“I never felt sorry for myself and I never cried because of my diagnosis,” she said. “As I was waiting to go into surgery, I felt lonely and frightened. I was experiencing what my mother had experienced twice before. I cried for her because now I knew her loneliness and fear. I also cried because I needed my mother…but she was with me. I could feel her and smell her fragrance.”

Morrell has been cancer free for four years. She along with her husband Rick, her sisters Beverly Seeley and Dianne Tucker, and her niece Madeline Marie Seeley, aka MiMi, participated in the Race for the Cure in Birmingham, Alabama. In memory of Morrell’s mother Madeline Underwood, she and her sisters wore their mother’s name. Morrell’s husband Rick and her niece MiMi Seeley, wore Morrell’s name in honor of her as a breast cancer survivor.

Survivors Parade

Morrell, second from right, with her husband, sisters and niece
Morrell, second from right, with her husband, sisters and niece

As over 9,000 children, teenagers and adults of all ages joined together in Linn Park, Morell donned the bright pink shirt given specifically to breast cancer survivors. Suddenly she felt different.

“I had never acknowledged my breast cancer to many people,” she said. “I don’t like to think about it talk about it, however at that moment I felt liberated, as if I had something to be proud of.”

When a young participant came up to Morrell and congratulated her, she thought, “for what?”

“Then I realized I was being congratulated for being a survivor; a special honor,” she said.

Morrell was among over 1,000 participants in the “Survivors Parade,” folks celebrating anywhere from 1 to 35-plus years of being cancer-free.

“Each side of the street was lined with well wishes to cheer us on, waving to us, shouting congratulations,” she said. “I smiled and waved back as if I were a queen. At that moment, my new sisters and I were beautiful and indeed royalty.”

Finishing the Race

Next up was the race. As Morrell lined up at the starting line with her husband, sisters and niece, she got a surge of energy.

“As I looked to the sky, I began to cry for my mother, wishing she could be there with me,” she said. “As tears ran down my face, I blew kisses to her in heaven hoping she could feel them on her cheek and be proud of me.”

Morrell said it is no longer difficult for her to share her story of survival because she wants others to know they are not alone.

“I am now have more compassion for others who are suffering,” she said. “I want to be an encourager and a fighter for those who need someone on their side. I am basically a shy person, but I find now that I reach out to others without hesitation.”

Throughout the walk, Morrell prayed for healing, strength and blessings of others.
“Although it took me almost 50 minutes to the finish the race, I was a winner,” she said. “Not because I walked three miles but because I did something that liberated me and helped to raise money to help those fighting breast cancer now and in the future.”

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)

Top 5 Fun Exercises for Seniors and Older Adults

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

Top 5 Fun Exercises for Seniors and Older Adults depaul blog

Bust out the balloons and beach balls, crank up the tunes and get some fresh air! In honor of Active Aging Week, here are five of the top exercises for seniors and older adults that are as enjoyable as they are beneficial.

Zumba Gold DePaul Blog Top 5 Exercises

Click to view Southfork's Zumba Gold class
Click to view Southfork’s Zumba Gold class on Facebook

Ever wanted to try the dance-based Zumba but thought it might be too intense? Zumba Gold is the answer!

Classes offer a modified version of the classic Zumba “that recreates the original moves…at a lower intensity,” according to the Zumba website. 

A slow song that gradually speeds up like “Proud Mary” was a favorite among residents at Southfork, a DePaul Senior Living Community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Chair Exercises DePaul Blog Top 5 Exercises

Though ‘chair’ and ‘exercise’ don’t seem to belong together, you would be surprised at the physical benefits you can receive working out while sitting.

Arm exercises with stress balls, leg and breathing exercises and other movements help build strength and balance. In fact, at Pee Dee Gardens in Florence, South Carolina, resident Jennie (below, left) has been teaching hour-long chair exercise classes for the past four years.

Pee Dee Gardens DePaul Health and Fitness


Just like chair workouts, balloons and beach balls don’t automatically connote ‘exercise,’ yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable way to keep active!

Racquets and balloons made for an entertaining afternoon of “Bally Ball’ at Southfork:

Bally Ball at Southfork DePaul

Or try a simple game of trying to keep a beach ball from touching the ground. It’s guaranteed to elicit smiles!


Outdoor Time DePaul Blog Top 5 Exercises

Taking a stroll outdoors has been proven to increase your Vitamin D levels, boost your mood and more, according to Tesco Living. Even a walk indoors will tone your body and potentially help prevent dementia and osteoporosis.

It’s tough to beat a walk socializing with friends on a sunny day!

Woodridge DePaul walking

Bowling DePaul Blog Top 5 Exercises

Bowling is not only a beneficial exercise, it’s a chance to let loose and get to know your fellow bowlers! What may be stereotyped as a ‘lazy’ sport can actually help you lose weight, increase your metabolism and reduce risk of disease, among other benefits, according to AZ Central.



There are so many more ways to stay active while having fun! What is our list missing?

DePaul’s 18 senior living communities in New York, North Carolina and South Carolina provide ample opportunities to stay active. Click here to learn more about our full schedule of activities, outings and events.

The Power of Music Therapy for People with Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

The change in Joe Norman’s demeanor, his posture and even his memory were unmistakable as soon as he began listening to the rocking guitar and smooth vocals of the classic soul and funk songs from his youth through a pair of headphones attached to an iPod shuffle.

Exposing Joe, a resident of the memory care unit at Twelve Oaks, a DePaul Senior Living Community in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, to music therapy was the idea of Administrator Penny Haynes and the site’s Activity Directors, Samantha Stanley and Anna Burford.

According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, music therapy has been proven to:

  • Shift mood
  • Manage stress-induced agitation
  • Stimulate positive interactions
  • Facilitate cognitive function
  • Coordinate motor movements

Joe NormanThe effects of Joe’s Alzheimer’s disease, and accompanying “behavioral issues” and “resistance to care” prompted staff to make numerous adjustments.

After attending a music therapy conference, Haynes obtained a list of Joe’s favorite songs from his daughter, who had he lived with prior to moving to Twelve Oaks. Within the first thirty minutes of his first music therapy session, it was clear the staff had discovered a new way to reach Joe.

His face lit up,” Twelve Oaks Administrator Penny Haynes said. “You could ask him questions and he could answer you correctly.”

Watch Joe’s transformation here: