Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Caramore is So Successful

As you examine the various components of our mission and services, it becomes clear that the Caramore Program takes a bold and unique approach in guiding people with mental illness to realize their potentials and expand their futures. Our success is based upon many solid and consistent program guidelines, as well as on a personally tailored plan for every individual who enters Caramore.

But of equal importance, Caramore is also strategically located in a geographic community that offers three key and readily available components that are essential to helping adults with mental illness maximize the benefits of the Caramore Program. Those three elements are ---

1) Outstanding Mental Health Treatment --- Effective local mental health treatment and community support services are readily available for adults with mental illness. UNC Hospital and Duke Hospital are close by and provide excellent psychiatric and therapy services. Local agencies such as Oasis, The STEP Clinic, Freedom House and Club Nova also act as partners with Caramore to address the various mental health needs of our participants

2) Availability of Community Jobs --- The Chapel Hill / Carrboro area is home to a vibrant and stable college community with many job possibilities available in support of that community. The various service industry and University related jobs that are created in our area have been wonderful employment opportunities for all of our participants

3) Free Public Transportation --- Caramore is situated in the heart of an area that provides free public bus transportation to local population. All of our participants are able to utilize free public transportation to get them to their jobs, doctors, therapists, shopping, social events, etc. In other words, people are not held back from opportunities because of any inability to get there.

Caramore offers the perfect mix of a well designed program, fully competent and caring staff people, and valuable community services ... and utilizes all those assets to ensure the success of our participants.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Helping Our Caramore Family

Diane Enger, a noted artist of handcrafted glass and jewelry, currently residing in Morganton, NC, has taken it upon herself to donate her time and talents to furthering our mission of providing quality lifestyles for our program participants. If you are interested in hand made jewelry, and would like to support the growing financial needs of our organization, explore Diane’s website and work – there is a designated page of handcrafted items dedicated to raising funds for our community. Diane has made a pledge to support our cause by donating 80% of her profits from these jewelry sales to Caramore Community, which is quite a stance of magnanimity considering the labor, supplies, and effort that goes into each piece of jewelry. Perhaps, you can find something special for yourself, or a loved one, that will provide our Caramore family with even greater opportunities.

Diane has been fusing glass and creating jewelry for 12 years. After teaching art for 25 years in the Illinois Public School system, she has recently retired to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Art (B.A.) degree from Western Illinois University and a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from Northern Illinois University.

To see Diane’s work, please visit her website.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pushing Towards Potential

A integral component of the Caramore philosophy is the value of helping all our clients reach their individual potentials. We at Caramore recognize that the goals of each participant may be different, but that every one shares the desire to find meaningful and rewarding work in his or her life.

Tanya Beiars has been with Caramore for almost 10 years now, serving as a hands-on instructor with many of our participants. Tanya helps people get themselves "job ready" for an employment situation in our community. Tanya has been adept at utilizing all of her diverse and effective skills in helping people realize their own potential and thereby get closer to their personal goals.

The path towards being able to work competitively isn't always smooth, and the ride can be bumpy for some. But Tanya has guided people as needed, aiming to bring out the best in all of the people who have worked with her. She is at times mentor, teacher, friend, sympathetic listener, and when necessary a focused task-master --- often she assumes each of these roles seamlessly in a single day.

The people who have worked with Tanya are better for her influence, and often people return and express grateful thanks for her guidance during a difficult time in their lives. The proof is also in the results. Every participant who has spent sufficient time with Tanya in the Caramore program has been able to find a job in our community. Everyone ... that's quite an accomplishment.

Caramore is a truly special place ... dedicated people like Tanya continue to make it so.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Justin and Jacob

Justin Mashburn and I attended the Orange County Chapter of NAMI's family-to-family a few nights ago. I gave my general overview of the program, and then Justin hit the floor, tapping out rhythmically his stint in the program thus far.

Justin spoke of his overall impression of Caramore as being a program that embraces individuals for their differences, and not by their mental illness. He concentrated more upon self-desire, determination, and will-power. He spoke of routine, a welcomed transition away from tired performances with family members, and he made it clear that he feels really accepted, a part of community, and a self-contributor. Not once did Justin speak of his mental illness. Instead, he spoke of his difficulties with getting up in the morning, coming to terms with his illness, and getting adjusted to a new routine.

In the end, Justin said that he was proud to be a part of Caramore, and when we were being bombarded with questions, he answered with no hesitation, and I never felt the slightest discomfort or unease. When asked, "How does Caramore bridge the gap between the greater community of Chapel Hill, and the community of Caramore, knowing that you have a mental illness," Justin responded very articulately, "We don't define ourselves in that way."

Justin has accepted his illness, and truly wants to grow. Growth is different for everyone. When given compassion, understanding, acceptance, and temperance, individuals feel free to grow in their own UNIQUE way, without fear of being judged. The moment this begins to happen, an individual surfaces with autonomy and self-motivation. Justin did that without any rehearsal, without any push, and without any reservation. No matter what is in store for his future beyond today, I can say confidently, and without any reticence, that the Justin that spoke tonight was not the same Justin that I met when he was admitted.

We never stop growing until the world tells us otherwise, and the world does not define us. Instead, we define ourselves, and the world learns acceptance, or turns away. Either way, the one is not contingent or dependent on the other, but they gently ask for cohabitation, and I am sure that we provide that.

Jacob Long

Admissions Director

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Integrating with the Community


How do I figure out what my interests are after being diagnosed with “mental illness?”

One challenge of living with a chronic illness is addressing the questions “who am I, how do I relate socially, and what do I still care about?” With Caramore serving as a community and physical space for one to reconnect to self— serves as a much broader community to rekindle old interests and develop new skills.


See for yourself.

Brian F

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We Shall: A Message from the President of Caramore to Potential Clients

• We shall not protect your life as it is; we shall promote what it could be. At Caramore, you should expect to change and dare to dream, because—“It’s never too late to become the person you might have been.”

• We shall be a beacon, not a butler.

• We shall offer patience, not protection.

• We shall offer hope, not a handout.

• We shall offer opportunity, not a guarantee.

• We shall model and promote success and health.

• We shall care about you, but not for you.

• We shall offer structure, not a shield.

• We shall not passively observe you, but will actively engage you. At Caramore, you shall be known and noticed.

• We shall together realize and promote that you have worth, value, capabilities, potential, rights, and responsibilities.

• Welcome to opportunity, welcome to adventure, welcome to hope.

David Chapman, President of Caramore.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hope at Caramore

I've often been asked what specific attributes are the most important for someone to have in order to succeed in Caramore. Of course there are many intangibles to consider, but I am convinced there are two underlying forces that link everyone who has ever been successful at Caramore—first is the willingness to embrace a philosophy of sacrifice and hard work to achieve goals; and second, is the inner desire to develop a life built around hope.

Hard work and sacrifice, I think we all can grasp the meaning of that. But I believe it is that elusive concept of hope which is truly the underlying foundation upon which Caramore has been able to guide people towards success. But what is hope? And can hope, together with hard work, actually alter the course of a disability and its effect on someone's life? We believe the answer is yes.

At Caramore, we don't confuse hope with optimism—a sense that things will work out for the best. Hope is very different from optimism. Hope does not arise from merely “thinking positive,” or crossing our fingers and wishing things will turn out ok. Hope, unlike optimism, is deeply reflected in one's personal efforts and determination to overcome the harshness of reality.

Although there is no universal definition of hope, I found one that seems to capture the essence of what makes hope so vital in everyone's life:

Hope is that elevating feeling that we experience, in our own mind's eye, of our personal path to a better future. Hope acknowledges the enormous obstacles and deep pitfalls that exist along that path. Hope is our inner guiding light that empowers and propels us through the darkness towards achieving our best destiny.

For any person, from anywhere, I can't envision a meaningful life without a strong sense of hope.

Barry Shanley

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Gracious Goodbye to Mickey Locklear

Since I've been at Caramore, I've witnessed and have been part of many changes around here. Hundreds of clients have come through our doors, staff has come and gone, programs have been revitalized, and all of our offices and residences have taken on a different appearance. But one valued constant that has not changed has been the calming and lasting presence of Mickey Locklear at Ephesus.

Mickey's legacy is incredible. I have never heard from a single client anything in the least bit negative about Mickey. In fact, many of our clients have regarded their relationship with Mickey as one of the most supportive and nurturing aspects of the Caramore experience. Mickey had a warm way with everyone who lived in the group home. She could make people feel appreciated and comfortable, not an easy thing to do when so many people come to us who might be anxious, frightened or feeling depressed. Mickey's charming, relaxed demeanor could cut through all those tensions very quickly and people would know they had a close friend and ally with Mickey.

In times of crisis, Mickey was a good person to consult with, share feelings with, and lean on for comfort. In times of joy, Mickey would be the first person you would want to share your happy news with. She connected with all of her clients—young or old, men or women, outgoing or withdrawn. Mickey had a personal touch with each and every one. I have nothing but admiration for the lasting memories she has left in the minds of all who resided with her.

And, of course, Mickey's many cooking and baking skills are legendary. Everyone looked forward to her Sunday evening meals and everyone learned from her down home cooking techniques. Mickey enjoyed putting food on the table for all to enjoy, and she could see how the communal meal could bond people together and make for a shared, enjoyable experience. With Mickey in or around the kitchen, Ephesus was filled with warmth, comfort, and good vibrations.

Mickey's last day will be this Friday, January 23rd. She has been with Caramore for longer than I can imagine, I think around 14 years or so. Incredible. We have hired Nancy Phillips and Caroline Crumpler to cover most of the duties that Mickey had. Caroline and Nancy will be wonderful new additions to our staff and do a fine job. But I cautioned them that they should do their job in their own style, and not think of themselves as Mickey's "replacement.”

That would be just an impossible order for anyone to undertake ... to try and replace someone as uniquely revered and special as Mickey Locklear.

Thanks Mickey, and here's to many happy days ahead for you.

Cheers Barry

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Voices: First-Person Accounts of Schizophrenia

Forwarding the Recovery Paradigm

Here’s a snapshot of a new local book connected with our friends over at UNC STEP Clinic…

Forwarding the Recovery Paradigm

Our Voices: First-Person Accounts of Schizophrenia is the first book of its type. There are similar books on schizophrenia, one where patient-authors ask the questions and share their first episodes. Our book is different in that it was designed to emphasize that schizophrenia is a lifelong illness with long-term and daily challenges, not isolating the focus on initial episodes. The market also has books with a similar format to ours: some interview and ask questions to experts, and some attempt to record or analyze answers from the popular mainstream. It should be pointed out that the subject matter of the interviews in these books varies greatly from ours.

The commitment and long process of writing and editing our own book became a reality when Jenny Edwards, one of the social workers from the UNC STEP Clinic (the University of North Carolina Schizophrenia Treatment and Evaluation Program) recognized the potential of one of many ideas that were proposed to her. It is so incredible that she would choose an idea, and have the vision, faith and confidence in us that we would make it happen! Her colleague Bebe Smith, Director of Outpatient Services at the STEP Clinic (who has worked in publishing), put the process in motion. Technically, Bebe and Jenny were just advisors for our book project, but we relied greatly on them, much more than they would have liked.

Our team of author-editors consisted of five individuals, each with some form of schizophrenia, who have weathered the worst part of their illness, have put their lives back together, and have really started to succeed in life again. Our author-editing team consists of talented writers, some accomplished, some truly solid. Because of all the unique battles we have triumphed over, we started this book project to share our personal perspectives with the world.

Our goal is to develop understanding in our readers that schizophrenia is a life-long illness, as well as an understanding of shared perceptions, experiences, and challenges people with schizophrenia face in daily living and throughout the course of their illness…”

Kwami Jackson Featured in Chapel Hill Magazine

Forwarding the Recovery Paradigm

This month’s Chapel Hill Magazine features our own Kwami Jackson. Available at Weaver Street

Monday, January 12, 2009


David Chapman and David Cooley were fortunate to meet Peer Specialists Larry Fricks at the State NAMI Conference in October. Larry has vast experience and credentials and achievements as a force for change in the public mental health system, where people with serious mental illness die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population.

The Peer philosophy that Larry espouses focuses on individual's strength rather than illness. Recovery is no longer only about what clinicians do to consumers, it has become, with the assistance trained peers, what individuals do for themselves and each other. Peers are trained to assist in skills building, goal setting, problem solving, setting up and sustaining mutual self-help groups, and in helping individuals build their own self-directed recovery tools.

The mental health field has been shifting to this recovery model in the last few years because it’s effective, flexible, innovative, and offers choice and self-direction. Caramore’s Tier 3 project efficiently utilizes peers to sustain lasting recovery from mental illness, and in 2009, we plan to host one of Larry’s trainings to further the potential impact our experienced clients have in helping our newer clients recover and live well.

A short clip Larry Fricks appears in: