RHD 2023 Year in Review
December 5, 2023
The Kansas City Public Library’s Peripheral Visions exhibit opened on January 7th and featured an array of incredible work by artists from RHD’s Imagine That!. The collaborative showcase, in partnership with Johnson County’s Developmental Supports’ Emerging Artists program, aimed to initiate a dialogue about neurodiverse artists and their role in the art world.
After two years of operating in a temporary space due to civic uprisings commemorating George Floyd, the Family Practice & Counseling Network (FPCN) celebrated the reopening of its Health Annex clinic at 6120 Woodland Ave., Philadelphia. The open house on January 27th educated the Southwest Philadelphia community about the available services and provided opportunities to strengthen partnerships. The event also introduced new services, including FPCN NOW (Nourish Our Wellness), a care clinic inside ShopRite; the WOW (Wellness on Wheels) Mobile, a mobile health unit; and the upcoming Family Health and Birthing Center at Woodland Village Plaza, addressing maternal mortality crises in collaboration with the community.
RHD celebrated Black History Month with a series of virtual events covering topics including children’s literature, mental health, Haitian culture, and more! The RHD Book Club was launched complete with a spirited discussion of Brit Bennett’s novel The Vanishing Half.
In honor of Women’s History Month, RHD highlighted four amazing, inspiring women.
• Christine Jorgensen – The first American transgender woman to undergo gender reassignment. She became a voice for transgender people and individuals struggling in their identities
• Mia Mottley – The first female Prime Minister of Barbados. In 2018, she led the Barbados Labour Party to win all thirty seats in the House of Assembly, which was the largest margin in the country’s electoral history
• Mahsa Amini – An Iranian woman who was detained by the morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic dress code and passed away shortly thereafter under suspicious circumstances.
• Xiomara Castro – The first female president of Honduras. Her commitment to move Honduras in the right direction and empower women has inspired global support.
Artists from RHD’s Center for Creative Works (CCW) showcased their unique creations at the Outsider Art Fair in New York City from March 2-5. Having participated in the fair since 2018, CCW experienced their best year yet, with total sales exceeding $33,000. Allen Yu sold 12 pieces, and Paige Donavan sold six works, gaining exposure and recognition. CCW’s success at the fair has elevated the visibility of their neurodivergent artists, with their creations now reaching celebrities, hanging in offices, and earning acclaim from renowned blogs like Art Spiel.
On March 28th, Brandon Gessitz of RHD Lifesharing received the Self-Advocacy Achievement Award during The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties’ 17th Annual Celebration Awards ceremony. The event was held in Bethlehem, PA and celebrated Brandon’s achievements, as well as highlighted Lifesharing’s commitment to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
On April 19th, Tom Hornof, a host provider for RHD St. Louis Residential, received an award and cash prize from the St. Louis Area Gateway Coalition for his exceptional work as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Tom’s dedication to supporting an RHD participant, Brandon, through the Shared Living Host model, earned him recognition, while demonstrating RHD’s values and mission of its Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities division.
On May 18th, RHD’s CEO Marco Giordano endorsed Pennsylvania House Bill 849 and Senate Bill 605 in a guest opinion column published in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Marco wrote that both bills represent “a vital step forward in supporting the crucial work of human services providers.” Read Marco’s column here.
On May 23rd, the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) received the Recovery & Resiliency Award at the 10th Annual Montgomery County CSP Conference and 45th Annual Montgomery Mental Health Awards Reception, held at Martha’s Community Farm in Audubon, PA. This recognition celebrated CHOC’s essential services and comprehensive support for the vulnerable in Montgomery County.
RHD’s Live Yes Studios raised close to $5,000 for Give to Lincoln Day, held on May 26th. Give to Lincoln Day is a coordinated day to honor and raise funds for non-profit organizations based in Lincoln, Nebraska.
On June 1st, RHD and the City of New Orleans Health Department announced the launch of the New Orleans Mobile Crisis Intervention Unit. This program directly integrates with the New Orleans 911 system to dispatch mental health professionals to acute, non-violent mental health crises. Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For the second year in a row, Morris Home received a donation from Philadelphia-based clothing retailer, Anthropologie, as part of their commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. This year’s donation was $7,500. Morris Home also participated in the annual Pride event held at Anthropologie’s store in Center City Philadelphia.
In honor of Juneteenth, RHD held a virtual event to pay tribute on June 16th. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
On July 18th, Allegheny County service providers, social workers, and others gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel in Monroeville, PA, to launch PA START Allegheny. The collaborative crisis intervention program in Allegheny County offers 24/7 support to individuals aged 6 and older with IDD and autism spectrum disorder. Compelling speakers explored various facets of START and its transformative impact on Allegheny County at this impactful event.
RHD’s United Peers hosted its second Summerfest event on July 22nd at the Christian Stronghold Baptist Church parking lot in Philadelphia. Summerfest offered carnival-style fun, including a dunk tank and caricature artist. Participants came together, had a great time, and supported United Peers’ mission to enrich the lives of those with mental health/co-occurring disorders.
On August 25th, RHD’s Wister Street hosted its annual Friends and Family event in Philadelphia. The gathering featured BBQ, music, dancing, and activities for children. The celebration took a special turn as the crowd surprised program director, Nicole Brown, by honoring her 25 years at RHD.
On Monday, September 11th, RHD’s Womanspace Philadelphia hosted a welcome event at Empower, their newly established facility in the Germantown area of Philadelphia, PA. The event brought together program staff, participants, and alumni, alongside RHD staff and esteemed guests, for an enlightening and impactful discussion. Dr. Latika Davis-Jones, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, was among the guests who contributed to the conversation.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th to October 15th), RHD honored the following outstanding individuals.
• Ellen Ochoa – The first Hispanic woman in space
• Roberto Clemente – The first Latino player in the Baseball Hall of Fame
• Sharmaen Agudo – HRIS and Project Manager for RHD
• Craig Casados – Program Director at RHD’s Live Yes Studios
The 10th annual Main Line Wine Gala was held on October 12th at Appleford Estates in Villanova, PA. The event celebrated a “Decade of Difference” with fine wines, delicious food, and artwork from RHD’s Center for Creative Works. The gala hosted 136 attendees, raised $140,000, and honored RHD program director, Sheila Prioleau, as a “Champion of Change.” RHD’s programs and future initiatives will receive the benefits from the proceeds.
On November 2nd, RHD clinicians gathered for their first collective retreat in Lafayette Hill, PA. Everyone was able to enjoy a day full of inspirational presentations, interactive breakout sessions, therapeutic drumming, pet therapy, and more.
RHD’s 2022 Annual Report was released, highlighting our vibrant community efforts throughout the year. Programs featured included Morris Home, New Orleans Mobile Crisis Intervention Unit, and Live Yes Studios, among other RHD programs and initiatives. Read the entire report here.
Held annually, RHD’s Values Day celebration was held virtually on November 16th. The theme of this year’s inclusive event was “It Takes a Village,” and brought the RHD community together in a fun and inspiring celebration of RHD’s Values.