FRN Family Recognition Celebrations

2017 FRN Family Recognition Celebration

On Saturday, April 29, 2017 the Family Resource Network held its Family Recognition Celebration at Community Behavioral Health.

This year’s event, again provided about 300 family members, their loved ones and staff an opportunity to hear from:

  • Sherry Peters, PA Department of Human Services-Bureau of Policy and Program Development, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, who presented on the importance of families and significant people being involved with their children/youth and adult loved ones throughout the Commonwealth.   Family Inclusion Competencies for Psychiatrists have been updated and sent to OMHSAS for distribution as a Mental Health Bulletin.

Furthermore, there is a planning directed at the creation of a Certified Family Peer Specialist as a funded position with the Commonwealth’s Medicaid Plan.  Eventually, this will entail the development of a curriculum to be completed by a family member interested in serving as a Family Peer Specialist to help support and offer guidance to a family member of an adult with Serious Mental Illness.

  • Lloyd Wertz, Family Training and Advocacy Center, presented on The Many Positives of Family Involvement Standards (see power point attached below), detailing how having family inclusive standards can benefit the family and those involved in Recovery Transformation.

The Many Positives of Family Involvement Standards by Lloyd Wertz

  • The Family Inclusion Panel: Representing Youth where Melodie Jackson & Markeem Jackson and Representing Adults where Barbara Fitz and Diane Fitz. Melodie and Barbara presented from personal experience the challenges and heartbreak of being excluded from the system care of their loved one.  Markeem and Diane presented on the challenges of involving thir loved ones while struggling to maintain their wellbeing.  They both greatly appreciate the sacrifices, support and advocacy that their parents have made to their recovery. The panel underscored the value of how beneficial Family Inclusion Standards could be to all involved in the behavioral health system.

The highlight and key focus of this event is to acknowledge families or significant people for their immeasurable support of their loved one. Nominations were provided from the Family Resource Network membership and the Family Inclusion project partners (Community Treatment Teams, Comhar, JEVS Residential, Horizon House). This year there were two categories of awards: Honorees, Family Leadership.

The Family Honorees were:

Icylee Basketbill, Valerie Bolton, Tiffany Bonneau, Tammy & Frank Brothers, Marva Brown, Anthony Buckson, Olimbi Ekmekcioplu, Maria Hernandez, Harriette Johnson, Teresa Johnson, Juanita Jones, Kathy McCann, Jim McGovern, Marion Murphy, Maria Rosario, Thelma Rivera-Press, Gina Santaguida, Tonya Spivey, Theresa Sherrod, Maria Vaks, Audrey Wallace

The Family Leadership Awards went to:

  • Mary Catherine Lowery for Shining through the Darkness in her leadership by bringing hope and guidance to family members struggling with mental health  and hoarding challenges in their loved ones, and improving the behavioral health system through training and collaboration.

  • Vicky Hunt for Shining Through the Darkness in her leadership by always listening to family needs & concerns,  referring families to the appropriate resources, supporting events throughout the city of Philadelphia, training and and educational support meetings, encouraging families to become involved in the support of their loved one.

  • Carol Bitzer for Shining Through the Darkness in her leadership by leading a family support group for families challenged by their loved ones with drug & alcohol issues, meeting families in their homes throughout Philadelphia to support & educate about mental health challenges, and being available to families by phone at all hours.


Families could pick up a variety of resource and educational materials and talk to multiple representatives such as: Consumer Satisfaction Team, Mental Health Association of SEPA's Training & Education Center and Parents Involved Network, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Philadelphia Office, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, Community Behavioral Health, PROACT, Philadelphia Fight, Community Support Program.

Attendees participated in asking questions, networking, resource gathering, the fellowship of other families, and enjoyed a plentiful and delicious hot meal.  There was more than enough food so that people could make a meal to take home with them.

Over 100 door prizes were donated by the members of the Family Resource Network.