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Centerstone Staffer Receives Carleen Cross Award

Kathy Raney, Recovery Services Coordinator with Centerstone’s Health Home program, was recently awarded the Carleen Cross Award at the Region Five 22nd annual Recovery Conference on August 9 at John A. Logan College in Carterville, IL.

The award was created in 2012 to recognize Carleen for her commitment, compassion, and leadership in the mental health community. Carleen passed away from cancer in 2011. Since 2012, the Recovery Conference Committee has honored an individual who displays outstanding leadership and advocacy for mental health and is active in the receovery movement in the Region Five South area, including the following counties: Crawford, Jasper, Richland, Edwards, Clay, Clinton, Wayne, White, Wabash, Saline, Marion, Jefferson, Jackson, Franklin, Williamson, Massac, Johnson, Union, Pope, Fayette, Perry, Pulaski, Washington, Hardin, Hamilton, and Alexander.

“I’ve heard so many stories about Carleen Cross, about what she has done to stomp out stigma of mental health and get recovery strategies out to so many people,” said Raney, who has not only attended the conference for the past seven years, but has also encouraged Centerstone client participation. “I’ve known her to be an amazing inspiration to a lot of people.”

Raney has served on the Recovery Conference Planning Committee for several years.

“I engage our clients to be a part of the Planning Committee also. I promote that the Recovery Conference is their conference,” Raney said. “I have gained so much by attending the conference each year, because I get to watch those receiving services become empowered by the speakers and activities and truly own the conference.”

Raney was nominated by Johanna Wichmann, Health Home Clinical Manager for Centerstone.

“When I entered this field about six years ago to work on an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team at Centerstone, Kathy ‘showed me the ropes’ and helped train me. Through her, I learned how to provide compassion and hope to the people I worked with,” Wichmann said. “I watched Kathy grow in her own recovery while also helping so many others on their journey. Kathy has been helping people for more than 25 years and still has the energy, understanding, and compassion to make a difference in the lives of everyone she encounters.”

Wichmann emphasized that Raney “meets people where they are and offers them hope.”

“Kathy’s compassion lies in her hope for others and her understanding that a life with mental illnesses is not a life that people choose,” Wichmann said. “Her compassion shows best in her desire to help people be the best they can be – and knowing that ‘the best they can be’ is defined by them – not by us as service providers.”

Raney is a firm believer in “meeting people where they are.”

“The one most important thing someone working in the mental health field is to meet those receiving services where they are and utilize their level of learning while guiding them in their recovery and wellness,” Raney said. “I am motivated by my own struggles, believing in recovery, guiding others, and watching our clients grow and achieve their goals.”

Raney has worked with Centerstone and its legacy organizations for a quarter of a century.

“I have worked very hard to become the person and employee that I want to be. I have had a lot of struggles, been a single mother, had issues with my wellness, and I have jumped at every opportunity to education myself and be the person that I am today. I had no idea that I was receiving the award. I knew that I was going where I wanted to go with my own recovery and engaging people receiving services in their recovery but didn’t feel that I was at Carleen’s level, yet,” Raney said. “I didn’t realize I was going to receive award until I was asked to come up to the stage. I felt so blessed, excited, surprised and having a hard time believing the award was mine. Receiving the award was a goal of mine to obtain in the next five years.”

Wichmann said she is motivated by Raney and her work in the ACT program. ACT is an integrated, self-contained, evidence-based treatment program based on an intensive, multidisciplinary, team-based community treatment using home and community visits as the primary mode of intervention. ACT is designed to prevent institutionalization (jail or hospital) or homelessness. The multidisciplinary team works collaboratively with the person served and family members. The ACT team includes a team leader, a psychiatrist, a registered nurse, a rehab specialist, a vocational specialist, and an addictions specialist.

“Kathy worked on our ACT team from her start with this agency more than 25 years ago. This is a very intensive and difficult to engage population, one that most people burn out on long before 25 years. Not only did Kathy stick with it, but she worked with many of the same clients from day one to her last day on the ACT team in March of 2018 (when Raney was promoted to Recovery Services Coordinator),” Wichmann said. “We have one client in that program who Kathy was with the day she went to the hospital to have her first child – Kathy said goodbye to this same client, whose son is now in his twenties, when she left the program last spring.

“Continuing to hold hope for and see potential in the same individuals for this many years, despite their setbacks and seemingly lack of progress, can be one of the hardest things in this job. But Kathy continued to believe in those clients and recognized that even tiny progress is still progress.”

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