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MHMR panel shares success stories

| Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fayette County's Mental Health and Mental Retardation program recently held its 17th annual Board Meets Board Night in Uniontown.

The event was an open-house forum, joining staff, family, friends and numerous board members and representatives of county agencies in an evening of interaction and enlightenment.

The Board Meets Board Night demonstrates the mission to help enrich lives by providing access to the best behavioral and developmental resources, promoting recovery and resiliency, officials said.

Almost 60 people were in attendance for the evening, which showcased not only the resources and aid available, but also a panel of six adults who are success stories for the programs offered in the county agency.

"We have a great panel this year, and one that everyone will enjoy," MH/MR Administrator Lisa Ferris-Kusnair said. "And I think that every year this panel gets better and better. The members of this panel have all had positive outcomes and have improved and I am very happy to be here to hear their stories."

The program focused on the development and growth of young adults who suffer from mental illness and their desire to emerge into the work force.

"Young adults with mental illness are developing and they are seeking out jobs," said Director of Developmental Services Lynn Clingan. "And we are finding them jobs. We work with them to find out what their strengths are and what abilities they have."

The first panel speaker was Roger Muzina, who spoke of his life and his accomplishments.

"I'm 22 and I live at home and I am a recent graduate of Frazier High School," Muzina told the crowd, "I work at Sonic and I help with Meals on Wheels."

A few of the panel members, such as Connie Nice, Dennis Turney and James Copeland, work at the area Salvation Army. Timothy Meade works in an office where he helps with paperwork.

"I shred the papers," Meade laughed, "I just take them and put them in the machine and turn it on. I always think "hey, this job is fun."

Meade will soon be working for the Westmoreland County Association for the Blind.

Panel members discussed family and activities. James Copeland used a picture board to show his favorite photos, expressing his love of everything from his new family of friends to his love of pets and camping

The final panel member, Kim Domonkos, spoke of her young son Luke, and the need for early intervention when dealing with disabilities.

The evening was a mixture of cheers and tears as tales of triumph unfolded.

Meade spoke of his excitement and anticipation of an upcoming trip and his love of horses.

"I'm happy." Meade told the crowd. "I go to bed happy, and I wake up happy. I'm happy."

Participants included the ARC, Chestnut Ridge Counseling Services, Crosskeys Human Services, Diversified Human Services, Family Advisory Council, Fayette County Drug and Alcohol, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Laurel Highland Foundation, Laurel House, Mental Health Association in Fayette County, Southwest Behavioral Care, Twin Trees and Verland CLA.

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