Friday, November 07, 2008

STEP Clinic Visit

The staff of UNC Hospital STEP Clinic paid a welcomed visit to the office and residences of Caramore yesterday. The overture was a joint effort from both organizations to further strengthen and enhance an already positive relationship, with the hope of introducing new personnel to each other and opening wider channels of communication.

The STEP Clinic at UNC is an invaluable resource in our community in that they provide consistent and excellent care to a large number of persons with mental illness who live throughout North Carolina. The partnership of the STEP Clinic and Caramore has served hundred of individuals who reside in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area, offering a comprehensive combined program of mental health services (STEP Clinic) and residential and employment services (Caramore). The synergy of the two organizations provides their mutual clients with a total package of support and services that are unrivaled anywhere in the state.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caramore on the People’s Channel

Jacob Long and Eric Morris appeared on TV the other night, talking about Caramore on The People's Channel.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Brushes With Life: Art, Artists and Mental Illness" Premiere

"Brushes With Life: Art, Artists and Mental Illness" premiere! September 18th, 2008 5:30pm FedEx Global Education Center 301 Pittsboro Street Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Message from Charlene Lee

My name is Charlene Lee and I live with bipolar1 mixed disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Having battled with these dual diagnoses for most of my life, it has been difficult, and impossible at times, to maintain any meaningful employment. Even though I am educated, and consider myself to be very bright and intelligent, my mental illnesses would oftentimes bring me to points where I would have to leave great jobs because of my battles.

I entered the Caramore program in October of 2003. It was my hope that the program would assist me in obtaining structure in my life that would eventually help me to move forward with successful employment. Even though I experienced some rough times after graduating the program in 2004, I was still able to bounce back and continue my journey to fulfill my desire of working and succeeding. I still strive for success every day of my life. I have a great story that I enjoy sharing with others who live with mental illnesses. Every time I am invited to share that story, I jump at the opportunity. Those who know me in the community know that I am not ashamed to say that, “Yes, I live with mental illness, but mental illness does not control my life.” I still battle, but with the help and resources that I have gained over the past five years through various mental health organizations, including Caramore, the struggles are much lighter and the results are more rewarding.

One of my favorite hobbies is writing. Aside from educating myself on mental health disorders by reading and reading and reading, I also write some. I have written a little acronym about Caramore, and would like to share it with you:

Awareness in my
Recovery process
Allowing me to
Move forward and to
Overcome fears so that I could maintain
Rewarding and meaningful

Thank you, Caramore, for being a vital part of my recovery! I often think back to my days on the cleaning crew at Caramore and think about how far I have come. The Caramore program was truly a blessing for me.

In October of this year, I will celebrate my second year of continuous employment at Staples in Chapel Hill. Also, I have been a part time van driver for Club Nova since February 2007, and was promoted to Transportation Supervisor in December 2007. I am also currently volunteering as a board member for the Mental Health Association of Orange County and for Club Nova, Inc.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 Legislative Agenda

Passionate and concerned about our own friends and family who are struggling with psychiatric disorders? Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the following three legislative initiatives—initiatives that we believe will improve the lives of our clients and other struggling NC folks.

1. Support the Coalition Budget - The Coalition represents forty statewide non-profit organizations that advocate for persons needing services and supports for mental health, developmental disabilities, and addictive diseases. This year’s Coalition Budget calls for additional funding for a variety of services to potentially benefit those with mental illness. In particular, additional funds for residential housing and support services, restoration of funding for the non-Medicaid population, and supported employment services are most needed.

2. Support House Bill 2217 – This bill calls for additional funding to “Appropriate Funds to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina to Expand the Schizophrenia Treatment and Evaluation Program (STEP) in the Department of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine.” Many Caramore clients receive services from the STEP programs. This quality program is under-staffed and under-funded. Caramore clients will benefit if UNC is able to expand their community mental health services.

3. Support House Bill 1897 – This bill establishes a Health Care Policy Council. Right now, the best way help someone with mental illness is to improve the quality and accessibility of affordable health care. Insurance parity and Medicaid buy programs have not helped those who participate in the Caramore program. The issues involved are complicated and sizable. We believe the establishment of the Health Care Policy Council will be an important, appropriate step toward a substantial improvement of health care services for adults with mental illness.

Please consider contacting your House and Senate representatives to promote the above legislation. Contact information may be accessed via the NC General Assembly website:

David Chapman, President/CEO

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Caramore Wedding

Our own Josh and Shannon got married today in a beautiful ceremony at Orange United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill.

It was particularly touching knowing both so well, having worked with both of them separately, back when they were struggling in the most difficult years of their illness—and to see them now, clearly very much in love, and neither able to imagine living their lives without the other.

Many couldn’t help but to comment on the fact that their own lives have been touched by Josh and Shannon, including Caramore—and that increased the pleasure all take in their happiness.

Congratulations Josh and Shannon!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Really Outsider Art

Here’s nice little piece from Lee Smith in today's Sunday NY Times that mentions Caramore and our resident celeb, Kwami Jackson.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Challenge Accomplished

David Chapaman, CEO of Caramore and Hank Humphrey from RTI

Thanks to all of you—on the web, through the mail, and at our banquet—who contributed to us meeting our latest fundraising intention. We met our goal to raise $5,000 to upgrade and refurbish both group homes—and even surpassed it, with donations coming in at over $6,000.

Work will begin in April to:

Contemporize, modernize, upgrade, and compliment rooms and living areas with new lighting, furniture, rugs, wall colors, art work, and layouts.

Our clients begin their recovery in our two homes. Often these homes are the first environments that our clients are exposed to after exiting a hospital—meaning that it is a critically important first step.

Your donations—including a generous donation from RTI—will directly go towards these improvements to revamp lives in our homes. Thank you to all who donated.

David Cooley

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Kwami Jackson

Our own Kwami Jackson was recently featured in “West End Poetry” with the following poem…

Made for you

As you turn it on it brushes against the flesh

Then falls into creeks and streams

Put it in a cup as it ravels down the throats many

Where? Ashes spread, guns are thrown, and decomposed bodies float aside.

Thrown garbage in the sea lies here

Where piers are guilt for you and me

A mother in a unexpected place. Water breaks!

As drops of rain falls for growth.

It is most of the body. Human, mammal or animal.

At times it can be frozen

Materials were made to repel because of it.

Some beds have it

You could not clean dishes without it.

Nothings can live without it

You brush your teeth and wash your face and then turn off the water.

Robert Kwami Jackson

Kwami is also featured in this month’s documentary movie,
Brushes with Life: Art, Artists and Mental Illness.”

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brushes with Life: The Journey of Art

Everyone who’s ever picked up a paintbrush and touched a canvas knows the thrill and release of creation. The joy of pressing the shutter on an old Leica camera and hearing that click as you immortalize the look of a stranger or a towering building or golden-hued sunlight resting on the treetops. The nurture of knitting, the mood of music, the praise of poetry; these are the pleasures of being an artist.

There are artists who have spent hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars and millions of moments of inspiration to be what they considered to be ‘artists.’ Some measure their success in canvases sold, or number of exhibitions or word of mouth in their community. Many other artists don’t consider themselves artists. They do their drawings in notebooks that never see the light of day, instead hibernating in bedside table drawers. They write poetry that plumbs the depths of angst and despair like Sylvia Plath. They create paintings that, like Van Gogh’s, never get sold in their lifetime.

Anyone who can afford the materials can be an artist. Getting your art shown is another matter. The trick to getting your art shown is two-fold: You must have the confidence to put yourself out there and try and make a deal. And you must make someone believe in your art enough to display it to the world.

We mentally ill can be a shy bunch. Aside from bipolar mania, we generally keep to ourselves. But our dreams of being artists are realized with the Brushes With Life gallery. Here is a gallery that shows folk art, amateur art, outsider art, classically trained art, abstract art. The only way to have your work shown is to have a mental illness which is seldom an asset.

Through creation, the mentally ill find peace. Art springs from the heart, but more importantly, the mind. A mind that is heavy with anxiety and pain can get a release from art like nothing else. The gallery is the best kind of therapy there is for those who struggle with mental health challenges. Joy is real when you overhear two strangers gush over a photograph you’ve taken, not realizing the artist is standing right next to them. Brushes With Life has grown over the years, developing a consistent roster of talented artists. Many of these artists you see in my film. Their journey through art is a way to relieve pain. We are all better off that they are expressing their pain. Turning pain into joy is the most productive occupation on Earth.

- Philip Brubaker, January, 14, 2008

See Philip’s documentary at Sunrise Church in Hillsborough
Thursday February 21, 2008
7:30 to 9:00