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.”

Beauty is in the Eye of the Reptile Holder

Stacie G

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

Stacie G., 45, of DePaul’s Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) Treatment Apartments, has always had a soft spot for animals.

“I have always loved any species of animal,” she said. “There isn’t anything out there that I dislike.”

Growing up in Williamson, New York, Stacie had the typical cats and dogs, and a few atypical pets including a chicken and a chinchilla. As an adult living at a DePaul residence in Spencerport, Stacie began volunteering her time with The Reptile Guys shop which was located nearby. That’s where she fell in love with bearded dragons and even snakes.

“I clean them, pick them up, hold them and give them attention,” she said of the lizards and other reptiles at the store where she volunteers. “You don’t know the feeling I get when I’m there.”

Stacie moved from Spencerport into DePaul’s NOTA apartments in Rochester, New York several years ago. She still volunteers with The Reptile Guys when able, but back at home, she’s got her hands full with two bearded dragons of her own – Sidney and Saxton. Her first dragon was Sidney. She got him two years ago when he was eight months old. She added Saxton about a year ago.

“They’re so sweet,” she said. “They are my precious.”

IMG_0901For Stacie, her lizards are just as good, if not better than a dog or cat. She gives them kisses on their heads and brings them places in a carrying case which they begrudgingly share. They actually do have personalities, Stacie said.

“They don’t get along well, but once and a while, they snuggle,” she said.

They don’t share a cage.

“Someone would be dead,” she said. “Sidney is very jealous. That’s how males are with one another, and God forbid you get a female in the mix.”

Bearded dragons eat vegetables, super worms, and crickets. Stacie feeds them two times a day. She houses them in tanks with sand and a special UV lamp that keeps them at an ideal temperature of 68 to 75 degrees. She bathes them twice a week to help them retain moisture as they don’t get enough through the greens which they eat.

“When I give them a bath, Sid will splash Saxton up,” she said with a smile. “He will hang onto the side and kick his feet at Sidney.”

When the dragons are mad, she said, their chins will puff up and turn black. If they get real mad, their tails will even turn black. Bearded dragons can live for up to 10 to 12 years, according to Stacie.

Residential Counselor II Grace Joseph said Stacie goes above and beyond to ensure the well-being of her bearded dragons, feeding them an organic diet and ensuring they receive an acceptable amount of natural sunlight. She provides them each with equal amount of attention and recognizes when they need time to themselves.

“Caring for her ‘boys’ is not only a pleasure, but serves as a therapeutic tool that she utilizes on a daily basis to aid her in her road to recovery,” said Joseph. “Stacie shares that her ‘boys’ keep her grounded when she begins to experience triggers and/or stressors. Their unconditional love serves as one of her primary motivators to become a better person.”

Stacie is not only learning a lot about reptiles herself, she’s passing on that knowledge to others. She helped get The Reptile Guys into NOTA for a show and she brings Sidney and Saxton out for events such as the Valentine’s Day dance in February. She also has friends who stop by her apartment just to visit the dragons.

“These two are my roommates,” she said. “They are my joy. They are my everything. I don’t know what I would do without a reptile in my life now!”

DePaul’s First Annual Idol Competition

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

Excitement was high and talent was top notch at DePaul’s First Annual Idol competition held on April 30 at Halstead Square, a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Program in Rochester, New York. A total of 15 residents from Ridgeview Commons, Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) and West Main Treatment Apartments, Edgerton Square and Halstead Square SROs and the Carriage Factory Apartments took the stage in a competition featuring poetry, singing and musical performances.

Ridgeview Commons Medication Coordinator Karriefh Norman and NOTA Assistant Resident Manager Samantha MacDonald were the Masters of Ceremony:


On the judges’ panel were East Ridge Resident Manager Rebecca Barnes, Program Director Deb White, Director of Quality Management Julie Edwards and Ridgeview Commons Senior Program Supervisor Sara Constantine ranking residents based on their performance, stage presence and creativity:

DePaul Idol Judges
Photo by Krista Hatfield



DePaul Idol Performers included:

John T Halstead

Judges’ comments:
“Mesmerizing voice.” -Julie Edwards

“You have the soul of a poet and you show it.” -Deb White

Sandra H.

Judges’ comments:
“You have the heart, the soul and the moves and it shows.”
-Deb White

Mark Meney Edgerton

Judges’ comments:
“You made me want to learn to play guitar.” -Rebecca Barnes

“What makes a good performer is when you make a challenging piece of music look easy. That’s what you did.” -Sara Constantine

Danita F NOTA
Judges’ comments:
“Smooth voice and very nice presentation.” -Julie Edwards

“You started out nervous, but you got more comfortable as you went along.” -Deb White

Derrick B RidgeviewJudges’ comments:
“Jay-Z better watch out. That sounded like something we would hear on the radio.”
-Rebecca Barnes

Mark McKay West Main
Judges’ comments:
“Believe it or not I slow danced to that at my prom. It took me back.” -Deb White

“Your voice was amazing and so was your stage presence.” -Julie Edwards

Jacob V. Ridgeview Commons
Judges’ comments:
“You did a very good job. I could never hit those notes.” -Rebecca Barnes

“You’ve got the full package – the style, your stage presence, your memorization without hesitation. It was all there. Very impressive.” -Sara Constantine.

Julia W. NOTA
Judges’ comments:
“The hairs on my arms are actually standing up. The emotion you put into that song, your stage presence, it was all there.” -Deb White

“Is this an off-Broadway show or on-Broadway show?” -Julie Edwards

Edward M. NOTA
Judges’ comments:
“You were into that song. You had everybody singing along with you.” -Rebecca Barnes

“Very heartfelt. I felt every word you sang.” -Sara Constantine

Harrison B. Halstead
Judges’ comments:
“That was a performance. You look comfortable up there. Way to bring it on.” -Julie Edwards

“You took me to church, Harrison.” -Deb White

Lars B. Edgerton
Judges’ comments:
“That’s my first time hearing that song and I’m over here grooving in my seat.” -Rebecca Barnes

“I’m pretty familiar with that song and you were spot on.” -Sara Constantine

Mark J Carriage
Judges’ comments:
“You remind me of the old-timey folk singers. You’ve got the look and the sound and every guy can relate to your lyrics.” -Deb White

Shyquain W
Judges’ comments:
“Very powerful song. Very powerful message. You absolutely killed it.” -Rebecca Barnes

“You were in it. After you got up there it was like none of us mattered.” -Sara Constantine

Wanda K. Carriage Factory
Judges’ comments:
“That was absolutely beautiful. You are in your element up there – your voice, your look, you stage presence.” -Julie Edwards.

Leah F
Judges’ comments:
“You definitely gave us all of you. You have a beautiful voice.” -Rebecca Barnes

“I enjoyed hearing you sing that better than the original.” -Sara Constantine


DePaul Idol winnersThree top prizes were awarded and all participants received a certificate of appreciation for all of their hard work and dedication. Wanda K. was the second place runner-up. Harrison B. was named first runner-up and Julia W. was awarded first place! Congratulations and thank you to all participants for sharing their talents!

Watch Julia’s entire performance! (Video by Krista Hatfield) 

Congratulations and thank you goes to all the participants for sharing their talents! Also a big thank you to the Talent Show Committee members Ridgeview Commons Assistant Residence Supervisor Juanita Prince, Elmgrove Assistant Residential Manager Jennifer Wright, Ridgeview Commons Medications Coordinator Karriefh Norman, East Ridge Assistant Resident Manager Manina Green, NOTA Assistant Resident Manager Samantha MacDonald, Carriage Factory Assistant Resident Managers Meghan Clough and Daniel Anderson, and Halstead Square Residential Service Coordinator Bernadette Weaver who helped give this idea a platform.

The Carriage Factory Apartments: A Place Many Will Call Home

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

DePaul celebrated the completion of the Carriage Factory Apartments during December. City, state, and public and private partners came together to celebrate the opening of the apartments, which transformed the over 100-year-old Cunningham Carriage Factory into 71 studio, one- and two-bedroom loft apartments for income-eligible tenants.

All apartments are occupied, and residents are thankful for such a “beautiful, wonderful place to live” that is a “godsend with everything necessary to live (in the building).”

Thank you to all of the people who helped transform the former Cunningham Carriage Factory in the Carriage Factory Apartments, a place that many will call home!

Every Picture Tells a Story

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

Looking through the lens of a camera, clients in DePaul’s mental health residential programs are capturing more than eye-catching photography. The hobby is proving to be an avenue for many clients to explore their talents and interests on their path to recovery as well as an inspiration to others.

At Edgerton Square, a DePaul Single Room Occupancy Program in Rochester, New York, a photography club meets regularly, with residents taking field trips into the community to explore photographic opportunities. At Kensington Square, a DePaul Single Room Occupancy Program in Buffalo, New York, the walls are adorned with images taken by residents with a knack for photography.

Meet some of the talented photographers at DePaul and learn about what inspires them!

Wendy C., Kensington Square

Wendy C

Wendy C.’s interest in photography was sparked when she took some classes several years ago.

“A person should have a well-rounded life,” she said. “It’s about doing different things that interest you.”

Credit: Wendy C. at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

A resident of Kensington Square for eight years now, she enjoys capturing the interesting architecture around Buffalo, New York with her camera.

Credit: Wendy M. at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Credit: Wendy C. at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Stacy K., Edgerton Square

Stacy K

A resident of Edgerton Square for seven years, Stacy K. finds inspiration for her photography in places like Rochester’s Maplewood Rose Garden. She said being part of the photography club at Edgerton Square is a chance for her to spend time with her friends.

Credit: Stacy K. Rochester in January
Credit: Stacy K. Rochester in January

“I like being together with them and I enjoy taking photos,” she said.

Credit: Stacy K. in Rochester, New York
Credit: Stacy K. in Rochester, New York

Her other hobbies include word searches, taking walks, spending time with family, playing bingo and listening to Def Leppard.

Fred H., Edgerton Square

Fred Hundhausen EDIT

Photography is a chance for Fred H. to inspire an audience.

“It helps me appreciate and learn about the created world,” he said. “I like knowing others will enjoy the pictures I take.”

Credit: Fred H. Rochester, New York
Credit: Fred H. Rochester, New York

A resident of Edgerton Square for more than four years, Fred enjoys gardening and he is a volunteer at the Helmer Nature Center where he enjoys learning more about gardening techniques, and watching and listening to birds.

Credit: Fred H. Rochester, New York
Credit: Fred H. Rochester, New York