2013: Reach for Recovery
Our 2013 symposium, Reach for Recovery, was held on May 1, 2013. The Keynote Speaker was Hon. Patrick J. Kennedy II. The Hope Award was presented to Jonathan Alford and Richard (Rick) Kidder, and the Innovation Award to Judge John Pickrel.
Keynote Speaker: Patrick J. Kennedy II
Patrick Joseph Kennedy II became the youngest member of his family to hold elected office when, in 1988, he won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives at age 21. After serving two terms in the House serving District 9 in Providence, Kennedy went on to serve 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Rhode Island’s First District.
During his time in Washington, D.C., Kennedy carved out a name for himself by authoring and co-sponsoring dozens of bills to increase understand and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act, the COMBAT PTSD Act, and more. Kennedy has openly discussed his struggles with depression and bipolar disorder for much of his life and in 2008, he brought his passion for mental health research and advocacy into the spotlight when he co-authored and was lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act. The legislation, which was the largest that he and his father worked on together, provides tens of millions of Americans who were previously denied care with access to mental health treatment.
In 20120, he co-founded The Next Frontier Campaign: One Mind for Research dedicated to dramatic enhancements in funding and collaboration in research across all brain disorders.
In addition to his work with One Mine for Research, he strives to live out President Kennedy’s call for Americans to give back to their country and to do so, he is an active board member of Best buddies and sits on the board of trustees at Bradley Hospital in East Providence, Rhode Island, where he hopes to further his role as an advocate of mental health research and services.
He currently resides in Brigantine, New Jersey with his wife, sixth-grade history teacher Amy Kennedy. There, they live with his step daughter Harper and their first son, Owen Patrick, who was born in April 2012.
Innovation Award Recipient: Dayton Municipal Court Judge John Pickrel
Judge John Pickrel has been the Presiding Judge of the Dayton Municipal Court since 1991 and continues that role through the present. Judge Pickrel received his B.A from the University of Dayton in 1967 and his J.D. from The Ohio State University in 1970. Since its beginning in 2003, he has presided over the Mental Health Docket. His service to the community includes: the Legal Aid Society/Model Cities Legal Services, 1970-1975; Staff Attorney, Montgomery County Public Defender, 1975-1977; Private Practice, 1977-1984; Board Member, Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project, 1989-Present; Member Criminal Justice Council of Montgomery County, 1990-Present; Municipal and County Court Judges Association of Ohio, Member 1984-Present, Trustee 1991-Present, President 2002-2003; Member, Dayton and Ohio State Bar Associations.
Hope Award Recipients: Jonathan Alford and Richard (Rick) Kidder
Jonathan Alford came to Consumer Advocacy Model (CAM) as a self-referral, via Samaritan Behavioral Health CrisisCare, for his depression and substance abuse issues. As a consumer for many years, he received individual and group counseling, case management and pharmacological services. When Jonathan came to CAM, he acknowledged abusing alcohol, nicotine, and other substances (crack cocaine). He endorsed being overwhelmed with life stressors, was depressed, angry, anxious, but was taking no medications. At this time, Jonathan had no “income, very unstable housing which frequently left him homeless, little family support, and chronic health issues such as uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory and circulation problems.” In addition, Jonathan had been losing his vision since the age of 16, and now being legally blind, had not yet come to terms with the grief/anger issues giving him an inability to successfully cope with this disability.
Jonathan maintains that there are multiple excellent services to assist in our community, only one has to be willing, and motivated to seek help. However, he acknowledges how difficult it is to navigate the maze of paperwork, policies and procedures within each social service agency, and empathizes for those who are illiterate, disabled, unable to advocate for themselves in order to access needed services. Jonathan adamantly maintains that each person deserves a second chance, and remarks that thankfully, he was given that second (and third, or fourth) chance. He will continue to champion the rights, dignity, and work of individuals, who are in need of services, as he reflects, “that was me, at one time, but I knew, I was better than that!”
After Christopher Reeves was paralyzed by a spine injury, he said, “Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” Richard Kidder has done just that. As is all too common, Rick was born into a family that didn’t understand mental illness; didn’t understand why their son was so unruly. As a result, he suffered, severely disciplined for acting out. He himself didn’t know why he felt the way he did. His siblings as well didn’t understand, and played on his behaviors for their fun and ultimately Rick’s pain. Rick chose hope and has chosen to share how hope is possible for others that have mental illness.
He was finally diagnosed with bi-polar in his 20s. Richard is a mentor to many people. He brings encouragement to people who have struggled with their diagnoses, using his testimony of how staying on medication and staying on top of the continuing changes that are happening in the medical field, he is able to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Rick started attending Connection Support Group with NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-Montgomery County) when it started and within the year was trained to be one of the facilitators. Rick has been dedicated to Connection and the people that attend the support group for over 4 years, he even lead for an entire year as the only facilitator and never missed a session. He leads by example on how to live in recovery. Rick never stops fighting to ease the recovery journey for others, saying what needs to be said, even when it is difficult to hear. Rick has devoted his life to recovery to enable to help others, whether family or strangers.