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Buckelew Programs Behavioral Health Services in Sonoma County

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Buckelew Programs Behavioral Health Services in Sonoma County

Did you know that 1 in 3 or 1 in 4[i] people in the US have a criminal record?

By Karina Zappa with Erika Klohe

That’s more people than married couples in the US; more people than live in households with a dog. It’s roughly the same number of people who hold a four-year college degree[ii]. To call this an epidemic would be a gross understatement.

Buckelew Programs for Sonoma CountyBuckelew Programs, a non-profit based in San Rafael with an office in Santa Rosa, provides behavioral health services to individuals in our community ( Our Independent Living Skills program, which helps members find and keep homes in the community and supports them to live independently, is perhaps our most well-known program. We also offer Employment Services, which range from assistance working on behavioral health barriers to employment, to paid training programs, resume development, interview prep, and other supports. In addition, we have a Family Service Coordination (FSC) department, a Mental Health Services Act (prop 63) funded program open to anyone supporting an adult loved one with any level of mental health challenge.

FSC includes Behavioral Health Outreach for the Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST), which is a contract with Catholic Charities and Social Advocates for Youth that collaborates with Santa Rosa Police and Sherriff’s Department, Human Services, Sonoma County Behavioral Health, and other agencies. HOST assists homeless individuals that are the most vulnerable in Sonoma County in accessing housing, resources, support and other services.

Frequently these programs serve people with criminal backgrounds, and often their convictions are a result of a behavior based in a mental illness (often charges like disturbing the peace and/or resisting arrest) or drug/alcohol addiction issues leading to convictions, including veterans with PTSD experiencing anger and/or violence issues that have led to convictions.

Erika Klohe, Team Leader of Family Service Coordination, is completing her final year of CSU Long Beach’s Graduate School of Social Work. One of her final projects includes an internship with Buckelew’s Employment division, where she has led three focus groups to give voice to those that want to work who have a criminal background.

Buckelew Employment and Family Service Coordination team

Due to the breadth of Buckelew’s services, information we receive directly from the community is crucial in developing programs that truly serve our community as best they can.

 Individuals that have criminal backgrounds have served their time, yet often continue to pay a price because of the stigma surrounding criminal activity. Erika was inspired by her studies in graduate school focusing on criminal justice and policy. Erika hopes to inspire others to make a difference in our community by offering jobs, homes and hope to those that have had challenge with criminal justice, and a chance to be a productive, positive and active part of our community. Erika partnered with The Empowerment Center, Interlink Self-Help Center and The Wellness and Advocacy Center and is grateful for the community’s support with this project.

The justice system operates under a simple theory: time can be served for crimes committed.

Why, then, do we continue to punish people after they serve their time, often for the remainder of their lives? If the idea of incarceration is to repay society, why do we block attempts people make to quite literally pay back their debts? A 2009 Justice Department study[iii] found that a past criminal conviction of any sort reduced the likelihood of a job offer by 50%.

Working individuals give back to our communities in ways big and small- from providing goods and services, to paying into Social Security, local and federal taxes, as well as spending their earnings, stimulating both the local and national economy. On a personal level, working boosts confidence, improves skill sets, and gives people a sense of purpose.

So what can we do?

At a local level, reducing stigma and promoting community-minded business practices are our best hope. It could be something as small as mentioning the 1-in-4 statistic to a friend, or something bigger, like asking a business you patronize to connect with an agency doing this work. If you own a business, consider getting in touch with us (or a similar agency) about partnering to find employees or hosting trainees.

There are tax incentives, training funds, and risk-free training periods available to employers, as well as the potential to hire some of your most loyal future employees. Contact Karina Zappa at (707) 571-5549 if you are interested in learning more!

Instead of stigmatizing 1 in 4 of our peers, it is high time to recognize that the system is broken, societal change is long overdue, and that a past criminal record is just that: a past.

For more information about resources and services in Sonoma County, come to our weekly Resource Clinic any Tuesday at 3pm at 144 South E Street, Suite 200 Santa Rosa. You may also call Family Service Coordination directly at 707-571-8452.

Updated Sonoma Resources for April

Check out the packet of helpful resources - mental health, housing, employment and other supports - that our Sonoma Family Service Coordination Team has compiled for you! Updated version for April can be found below.

April 2016 Sonoma Resource Packet Pt.1

April 2016 Sonoma Resource Packet Pt. 2



Next crisis hotline volunteer class starting May 17

Our SUICIDE PREVENTION & COMMUNITY COUNSELING Program is looking for volunteers on our 24/7 hotline. Our hotline has been operating in Marin since 1971. In 2011, we expanded our hotline service to the additional North Bay Counties of Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino. Suicide Prevention & Community Counseling also provides grief counseling services and community education. 

To volunteer on our Hotline, individuals must successfully complete our Hotline Training Class. The class is supervised by the Program Director and includes information on the following topics: identifying individuals in suicidal or other types of crisis; communication; counseling; active listening skills; and suicide/crisis intervention techniques and other subjects. 

Our next class will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM beginning May 17 and ending June 21, 2016. There will be one Saturday class from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on June 11, 2016 (the Saturday class is mandatory). For students who become volunteers on our Hotline there will be four additional sessions on Tuesday nights from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM from June 28– July 19, 2016.

To register for this class, please call Melanie Lopes at 415-499-1193 x3001 to arrange for an in-person interview. There is a $25.00 fee for the training. Payment at the time of the interview will hold your place in the class.





“reducing stigma”

Stop contributing to it. Discuss mental illnesses positively. Your voice matters.

Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

Ft Myers, FL 33907


PS: Is it not interesting that people who want to help say there is a stigma to mental illnesses. Those are words for people who do not want to help.

The Women’s Movement lent no credence whatsoever to rape/stigma and told us to stop. Somehow that has not reached those people.