Liberation Programs, Inc Announces Appointment of New Board Chair and Directors

(Norwalk, CT) – Liberation Programs, Inc (LPI) announced the start of its new Fiscal Year on July 1, 2020 with the appointment of a new Chair of the Board of Directors, two new Board Members.

Joining the Board are Debra Hertz, Maria B. Hancock, and Kirk S. Santos. Hertz will be reprising her former role as Board Chair for a one-year term. These appointments bring the total number of Board members to 14.

“We are excited to welcome Debra back to our Board in this leadership capacity and to have Maria and Kirk join this group. Their combined experiences and connections will be instrumental for an important year ahead as we continue adapting to the Coronavirus Pandemic, advocating for social justice, and celebrating our 50th Anniversary in 2021 all while providing unparalleled service for those who need us”, said President and CEO, John Hamilton. “We are all grateful to our departing Board Chair, Wayne Cafran, for his years of service as well as Roberta Cohen, Mort Lowenthal and Patricia Muldowney who served on our Board for over a decade collectively”.

Debra Hertz is returning to Chair the LPI Board having departed the Board in 2015. Hertz is a management consultant and founder of The Strategy Group, LLC with over 25 years advising nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. She holds a PhD. and Master of Social Work from Fordham University where she also teaches leadership courses in the Graduate School of Social Service. A Darien resident, Hertz is on the Board of Directors of Achievement First – Bridgeport.

Maria B. Hancock, Rye, NY, is an international executive and entrepreneur with extensive experience in investing and mentoring start-ups and advising on climate risk. Hancock has a PhD. in Theoretical Nuclear Physics from Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität which she utilizes in product innovation, operational leadership, and risk assessment.

Kirk S. Santos, Mount Kisco, NY, is Chief Learning Officer at Pitney Bowes in Stamford. Previously, Santos held various positions at many Fortune 500 companies including PepsiCo, IBM, and Caesars Entertainment. Santos has extensive experience in Human Resource Strategy including retention, compensation, diversity, talent management, and succession planning. He holds a Master Strategic Management/Human Resources from Long Island University and is a member of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, Society of Human Resource Management and Sigma Beta Delta.

The current Board of Directors for Liberation Programs:

Debra Hertz, Chair

John Bassler, Vice-Chair

Dennis Monson, Treasurer

Laura Beck, Secretary

Dr. Frank Appah, Jr

Steve Fogarty

Maria Hancock

Allison Milne

David M. Morosan

Kwame Moses

Sallyan Pelletier

Kirk Santos

Cynthia Shaw

Brigitte Van Den Houte

Dear Friends,

At Liberation Programs, we stand against racism, social injustice, and police brutality. In recent days we have watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. Racial tensions and violence against Black individuals have once again shaken our society. We stand with you in your grief, anger, and sadness at the inequality and violence that have taken place far too often for Black Americans. We understand that there is now more stress, anxiety, and fear during a time when we were already experiencing heightened emotions and trauma.

We believe that hope is the cornerstone of all human healing; one cannot instill both hope and fear. We stand for hope. The work we do depends on our ability to earn trust which cannot take root without respect. We disavow acts that create humiliation. We condemn racism and we are committed to being change agents by listening, learning, sharing, and supporting you during these difficult times.

We know the criminal justice system is flawed and we are committed to its reform through diversion and deflection. Recovery, prevention, and intervention are possible for all. Our doors are open to all who need our services and we promise to treat everyone respectfully.

As an agency, we are committed to systemic change and will continue developing a workforce and Board of Directors who reflect those we serve. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and remain committed to change for an equitable society.

Blacks Lives Matter; you matter to me.

 

Yours,

 

 

John Hamilton

President & CEO

Liberation Programs, a leading behavioral health organization specializing in substance use treatment in Fairfield County, is adapting to the Coronavirus Pandemic to continue its life saving programs at a time when they are needed more than ever. Liberation’s Outpatient Programs in Bridgeport and Stamford are still accepting walk in admissions for mental health, Methadone, extended release naltrexone, and Buprenorphine as approved by the CT Department of Mental Health Services (DMHAS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Telehealth counseling services are being used in addition to enhanced protections for in person medicating. Inpatient programs are continuing undisrupted with enhanced social distancing measures in place. We have also partnered with a Federally Qualified Health Center to provide telehealth primary care medical services to Recoverees to ensure their safety while allowing for continued medical care. Additionally, Liberation’s Mobile Wellness Van is in Washington Park in Bridgeport from 10am – 2pm on Wednesdays providing Buprenorphine, harm reduction syringe exchange and overdose kits.

In the month of March, Liberation Programs saw an increase in outpatient admissions with one location having an 18% increase in new admissions. As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, and in its aftermath, Liberation expects to see an increase in admissions and need for their services. The anxiety, fear, stress and sense of loss due to Coronavirus is a recipe for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has a high comorbidity with Substance Use Disorders. Stress and trauma are strong risk factors for addiction as well as relapse, treatment failure and a lack of willingness to quit. while dealing with trauma can lead to relapse and lack of willingness to quit. Loss of a consistent routine and the unprecedented increase in unemployment are both indicators of a dramatic increase in drug use. Last month, the “Disaster Distress Hotline” at SAMHSA saw an 891% increase in calls over March of 2019 and a 338% increase in calls compared to the month before.

A vital part of Substance Use Treatment is social support which can be difficult with necessary social distancing protocols. It is essential to rely on technology wherever possible to deal with trauma and anxiety while connecting with others. This is also true for first responders, medical staff and frontline workers who are at risk of developing PTSD from this pandemic. Isolation and social distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness and lack of emotional connections which can lead to increased use and self-medication with drugs and alcohol.

After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, substance use increased in Manhattan by 27% and remained high even when reports of depression and PTSD had declined. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was a 35% increase in hospitalizations for Substance Use Disorder in Louisiana. Both traumatic events had largely regional effects while the Coronavirus Pandemic has national and global ramifications.

Individuals with Substance Use Disorders are not only at risk of having lasting mental health effects due to the Coronavirus, many are more susceptible to complications from contracting Coronavirus. Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder, methamphetamine use and those who smoke or vape are especially at risk of complications. The timing of the Coronavirus Pandemic is especially unfortunate as we are currently experiencing a national and local Opioid Epidemic. It is critical that Substance Use Treatment is available to curb preventable hospitalizations that will pull resources from Coronavirus frontlines. There are also many instances where change in routine and more time spent at home can lead to finding a sense of purpose and desire to seek treatment.

There are many resources available from Liberation Programs as well as SAMHSA and CT DMHAS for those struggling with stressors related to the Coronavirus Pandemic as well as those living with Substance Use Disorders. Liberation Programs remains open to serve the community in lower Fairfield County during this pandemic and after. To get more information, please visit www.liberationprograms.org, call 855.LIB.PROG (855.542.7764) or email info@liberationprograms.org.

Liberation Programs staff spoke to the Greenwich Time about our Mobile Wellness Van and ways to support harm reduction and save lives.

“As Glennard Brown inched into a parking spot near Jackie Robinson Park in Stamford on Thursday morning, he zipped up his jacket and grabbed a “rover” kit from the back of his van.

Teams from Liberation Programs travel across Fairfield County multiple times per week in the van, offering on-the-ground services to those who need them — from Greenwich into Bridgeport.

The van travels to areas where active drug users might congregate — with services accessible to all — including those who are uninsured. And it goes where its presence is requested.” (excerpt from Greenwich Time Article, Liberation Van Drives on the Road to Recovery.)

Read the full Greenwich Time article here.

Joanne Montgomery, Chief Clinical and Outreach Officer at Liberation Programs, spoke at the New Haven Police Department Harm Reduction Press Conference on February 6, 2020.

New Haven Police has become the first police department to provide harm reduction kits to individuals with substance misuse disorders in hopes of keeping them alive.

Joanne Montgomery spoke of her personal experience with harm reduction techniques.  “All of the people I had met through the years, through the harm reduction efforts out in the streets — I knew right away who I could call and where I could go, and I actually went to Liberation Programs, where I now work.”

Pictured above (L-R): DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Joanne Montgomery, Liberation Programs President & CEO John Hamilton

Watch video from the Press Conference Here

Read more about New Haven’s Harm Reduction Efforts and Watch the Full Press Conference Here

Liberation’s President and CEO John Hamilton presented as part of the Greenwich Retired Men’s Association’s weekly speaker series at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich.

John Hamilton at the GRMA

Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

The presentation, How to Strengthen Resiliency in Families, included topics such as addiction potential of substances, parent/child communication, and brain development stages.

John’s presentation was highlighted by and reported in the Greenwich Time:

[John] encouraged parents to lead by example and to exhibit healthy mood-regulation during times of stress. Parents should refrain from judging their children and remain open, nurturing and responsive when their youngsters approach them about these issues, Hamilton said.

“You here in this room could be that consistent, supportive, loving person in the child’s life… [a]nd that could make a difference for everything else going on in their life.”

Click here to read the article by Social Services Reporter Tatiana Flowers in the Greenwich Time and to learn more about John’s presentation How to Strengthen Resiliency in Families.

Dads, join John Hamilton for a morning of coffee, conversation, and family at the Greenwich Father’s Forum Kick Off Breakfast and Presentation on Saturday, October 12!

Fathers' Forum Greenwich kicks off on October 12 at 7:45AM!

 

In partnership with Greenwich United Way and the YMCA of Greenwich, join Liberation Programs President and CEO John Hamilton as he leads the Fathers’ Forum Greenwich Kick Off Breakfast and Discussion on Saturday, October 12 at 7:45AM!

Visit the YMCA of Greenwich’s website or contact Maggie Young at 203-810-5202 or maggie.young@liberationprograms.org for more information. See you there!

Over 100 state partners, local providers, and community stakeholders who collaborate to address the opioid crisis celebrated the grand opening of the Pelletier Wellness Center in Bridgeport on Thursday Sept. 19, an event that coincided with National Recovery Awareness Month. Ninety-eight percent of Liberation Programs’ 750 clients in Bridgeport participate in Medication Assisted Recovery related to opioids. In Connecticut, there are at least two opioid-related overdose deaths each day.

The Pelletier Wellness Center, named for Liberation Programs board member Sallyan Pelletier and her husband Steve Pelletier, is a state-of-the-art outpatient treatment center providing Medication-Assisted Recovery, individual and family therapeutic counseling, and support services to people seeking treatment for substance use and mental health issues in Fairfield County. The couple supports the holistic approach to health that the Pelletier Wellness Center will provide for our community.

Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Pelletier Wellness Center

Ready to cut the ceremonial ribbon are Maggie Young, MSW, LADC, Chief Recovery Officer; State Representative Andre Baker; Roberta Cohen, Board Member; Bridgeport Councilman Ernie Newton; Maritza Bond, MPH, Director of Health and Social Services, City of Bridgeport; Tom Pelletier; Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim; Steve Pelletier; Ali Milne, Board Member; Sallyan Pelletier, Board Member; Mort Lowenthal, Board Member; Joanne Montgomery, Chief Clinical Officer; John Hamilton, President and CEO; Bonni Hopkins, PhD, Chief Operating and Innovation Officer; Omar Garro, Chief Financial Officer; Wayne Cafran, Board Chair; Cini Shaw, Board Member; John Bassler, Board Member – Photo by Regina Madwed, Capitol PhotoInteractive

Click here for more photos

“Addiction kills,” said Sallyan, addressing the crowd. “My husband and I, like so many others, have been affected by this horrible disease. Liberation Programs has been on the front lines, combating opioids and fentanyl through medication maintenance and therapy, supporting folks from our community long before heroin was a headline story. I want to thank John Hamilton, the CEO of Liberation Programs, and the amazing staff. We have so many well-seasoned and compassionate, enthusiastic team members supporting our clients here in this community and throughout Fairfield County.”

Nancy Navaretta, Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) said, “I’m here representing the Commissioner, who is so pleased to see expansion and innovation, like the van. Liberation has always been ahead of the curve, and we (DMHAS) are happy to support them. They are a lead addiction services provider and now a leader in the behavioral health services continuum of care. I believe that our clients and people that we serve deserve beautiful buildings like this, just like the private sector. This is a fabulous model for the state.”

Guests were given tours of the center at 399 Mill Hill Avenue that offers on-site primary medical and dental health services through a partnership with Southwest Community Health Center. Visitors, including Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, had the opportunity to try auricular detox (ear acupuncture), a protocol to treat behavioral health, addiction, and emotional trauma. A number of Liberation Programs’ staff members are trained as Auricular Detox (acupuncture) Specialists, thanks to a grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS).

“Your physical plant, process and caring culture are all married in a way to offer dignity, support and care,” said Rockman Ferrigno, MD, Chair, Emergency Medicine, and Associate Chief Medical Officer at Bridgeport Hospital. “Visiting with your team has been a lasting highlight for me. I was energized, educated and humbled.”

Liberation Programs’ President and CEO John Hamilton said, “We have this beautiful building, but it pales in comparison to the staff, our dedicated, compassionate staff, that every day work in the trenches, that treat individuals with dignity and respect. That’s what makes the difference.”

Guests were excited to see Liberation Programs’ new Mobile Wellness van, which sports the organization’s phone number, 1-855-LIB-PROG, and is brightly appointed with “Peace, Love, and Liberation” and “Meeting People Where They Are Since 1971” in vintage lettering, produced by A to Z Signs. The van will be used to expand access to Medication Assisted Recovery treatment, as well as support loved ones and the community at large through lifesaving connections. The van made its first official public appearance Friday, Sept. 20, at the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) first annual Stomp Out Stigma walk at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, and will be stationed at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery’s (CCAR) 20th Annual Recovery Walk in Hartford, Saturday, September 21 at Bushnell Park. Before the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Sallyan shared, “My husband and I are not just putting our names behind this building. We are putting our hearts, our minds, and our prayers behind all those clients who use our programs.”

Sallyan is former Managing Director, Global Head of Marketing Execution, and Americas Region Head of Marketing for UBS, and her husband, Steve, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Businesses for Prudential. Sallyan Pelletier served on the board of Liberation Programs since 2014, and as the agency’s Board Chair from 2015-2016, contributing her expertise in business and global marketing to raise awareness about lives unnecessarily lost to overdose and the evidence-based treatment Liberation Programs provides.

The event featured catering by the legendary Bridgeport restaurant, Ralph-n-Rich’s, and guests enjoyed reminiscing with co-owner Ralph Silano and his wife Sarah.

Click here for News 12 coverage of the Grand Opening on YouTube

Click here for more photos from the Grand Opening

All of us at Liberation Programs would like to thank our event sponsors, committee, donors, partners and guests for helping to make the 2019 Spirit of Hope Gala a wonderful success. Because of your support, we raised a record $440,000 to continue to provide lifesaving treatment, programs, and services to people in need in Fairfield County.

Proceeds from this year’s Spirit of Hope will make our Recovery Coaching initiative a reality, bringing hope and guidance to people when they need it most – and meeting people where they are – at what may be the very beginning of their journey toward a meaningful life in recovery.

Please click here to see photos from the event.
To join Liberation Programs’ community of supporters, click here to make a donation.

Read our press release below:

Liberation Programs 12th Annual Spirit of Hope Gala A Success
Published on Friday, 14 June 2019
Written by Laura Roberts

On Thursday, June 6th, Liberation Programs held its 12th Annual Spirit of Hope Gala at Woodway Country Club in Darien. The spectacular event, attended by nearly 400 of the community’s most philanthropic residents, was hosted by the organization’s President and CEO, John Hamilton. The evening raised over $400,000, providing critical funds for the life-saving treatment Liberation Programs provides for recoverees, and the outreach work it does to prevent substance use disorders in our community.

Senator Richard Blumenthal kicked off the program, stating “Liberation Programs is the gold standard, and I am proud of the work that you’re doing to break the stigma of substance use disorder.” Later adding, “They are breaking down barriers, and providing new kinds of help for people when they are most vulnerable.”

The evening honored some of the nation’s leading addiction experts, each having raised the standard of care in substance use treatment and recovery. Awards were presented to Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof, The Lighthouse Sober Living and The Lighthouse Recovery Coaching 365 Program, and the organization’s own Maggie Young, MSW, LADC, Liberation Programs Chief Recovery Officer.

“I never dreamed I’d be standing before you as a Spirit of Hope honoree,” said Young, who was a client of Liberation Programs herself some 27 years ago. “Ever since my treatment stay in 1992, I wanted to be present for others like me, who needed help and support.”

Michael Pollard, Stamford’s Chief of Staff, attended the event and noted afterwards, “I am honored to know Maggie, all the people she helps are a testament to the great work of Liberation Programs, and her amazing title of Chief Recovery Officer represents the extraordinary work Liberation Programs is doing saving lives.”

Additional highlights of the evening included moving performances by singer Daphne Willis, as well as a touching vocal performance by the nationally acclaimed Darien High School Tudor Singers. Video presentations showcased the tremendous impact the organization is having on our community, and guests competed for exciting raffle prizes.

Additional donations to the event are still welcome. Please visit LiberationPrograms.org/Donate to make your contribution today.

Liberation Programs would like to thank its dedicated gala committee led by co-chairs John Bassler, Debra Hertz, PhD and Cynthia J. Shaw, as well as its generous corporate sponsors, Atlantic Diagnostic Laboratories, First County Bank, KPMG, The Lighthouse / Recovery 365, Mountainside Treatment Center, Pitney Bowes, Stamford Health, and Yale New Haven Health.

The organization has been a pioneer in the field of integrated behavioral health services in lower Fairfield County for nearly fifty years. Liberation Programs provides services for youth, adults and families that include two inpatient treatment programs, outpatient and intensive outpatient services, health education for older adults and people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses, treatment and resources for adolescents and their families, education and prevention efforts in the community, and permanent supportive housing for families. In operation since 1971, the agency has sites in Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport and serves more than 2,000 adults and youth each year. To learn more, or to make a donation, visit www.liberationprograms.org or call 203-851-2077.