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Connections Winter 2011

Optimistic Outlook

He’s served as CFO at three public companies in the telecommunications industry. His many volunteer experiences include the board of Head Start on Long Island, and the development department at his alma mater of Princeton University. He’s done extensive humanitarian work in South Asia —and he’s even assisted the official Chaplain of both the New York Yankees and the New Jersey Nets.

Earlier this summer, the greater community served by Carrier Clinic®, an NJ psychiatric hospital and recovery center, got to know the name Thomas G. Amato, when the Board of Trustees at Carrier Clinic voted to elect the Skillman, NJ resident as Chairman of the Board.

Although he’s only been a member of the Board since 2009, Tom Amato has played a significant role on the Clinic’s Development Committee (for which he served as Chair), as well as the Capital Campaign, and Carrier’s first, resoundingly successful Gala fundraiser.

Tom was the unanimous choice to spearhead Carrier Clinic®’s mission of providing “the best care and treatment to those persons who come to us struggling with emotional, behavioral distress, addictive and psychiatric disorders.”

It’s a stated mission that’s found an enthusiastic advocate in Amato, who explains that, “I chose Carrier because I believe in the mission… I believe that is the most important thing that a board member or volunteer can do, in addition to supporting the organization financially and intellectually.”

A spiritual counselor for six seasons to one of the Yankees’ farm clubs, Tom explains that, “My faith is important to me. I wanted to do something that would benefit others and keep in line with my spirituality.”

As Amato sees it, that sense of the spiritual finds a home within the Carrier mission—about which he observes, “It’s more than looking at the physical…there is a spiritual wellness and wholeness here as well.”

“The Clinic has had to change and be adaptive to succeed over the years,” the new Chairman continues. “It’s the mission that never changes, and we need to let the world know about our potential, our resources.”

Those resources, according to Tom, include “financial health, our beautiful 100-acre campus, and a 14-acre solar farm,” as well as Carrier’s century-old tradition of service, and the facility’s unique position as an independent entity that’s able to address both the challenges and the opportunities presented by a fast-changing healthcare landscape.

“I’m interested in continuous improvement, meaning, every year we build on our successes,” Tom says. “This is why we are here, to make it better.”

Breaking the Stigma

For more than 100 years, Carrier Clinic, a central Jersey behavioral health center, has been breaking the stigma of mental illness in New Jersey and throughout the country.

Mental illness never discriminates. It draws no distinctions based on age, race, gender, faith or ethnicity. It knows no timetable, ignores issues of economic status, and disregards all matters of social stigma.

Even in an age when so many of us don’t think twice about sharing the most intimate details of our lives, mental illness—and the stigma that continues to attach itself to those words—remains the last taboo topic in our increasingly “open” society.

With proper treatment, people can, and do, get better. For those who require the services of a state-of-the-art behavioral health facility, Carrier Clinic stands at the forefront of caring, compassionate treatment.

Breaking the stigma within the community at large has Carrier Clinic addressing three important goals: treating the disorder itself, emotional, behavioral, addictive or psychiatric, incorporating the individual back into a healthy and productive life, and preparing the community to accept and understand that individual.

Today’s Carrier Clinic builds on a 100-year legacy with a range of rehabilitative programs and services —on inpatient, outpatient, and residential levels— for adolescents, adults and older adults. Our 100-acre Belle Mead campus also includes the Blake Recovery Center™ for patients afflicted with drug or alcohol addiction, as well as the private East Mountain School and East Mountain Youth Lodge for teenagers with psychiatric or emotional difficulties.

Specialized programs for family members in education and support are vital components in the patient’s path for mental health success.

According to C. Richard Sarle, President and CEO of Carrier Clinic, helping individuals lead productive lives within their community centers on the ongoing efforts to engage the greater community and to foster the profile of Carrier Clinic as a good neighbor; a resource for quality care and well-being at the heart of an ever-growing region.

Carrier professionals regularly reach out to the public through mental health and addiction screenings, as well as free presentations on topics of interest at libraries, YMCAs, and other venues. Special events such as September’s first annual Walk of Hope and Awareness Day allow members of the public a close-up look at the Carrier campus. Off-site events like this year’s exhibit at the Red Mill Museum in Clinton work to reach into the community to improve the understanding and relationship of our society to its mentally ill citizens.

With an estimated 57 million Americans and their loved ones suffering the effects of mental illness, it’s more important than ever to break down the barriers, stop the silence, and continue to educate the community. At Carrier Clinic, it’s a Walk of Hope that our dedicated professionals take every day.

Walk of Hope

On Saturday, September 17th, the first annual Carrier Clinic Walk of Hope and Awareness event took place on the grounds of Carrier’s Belle Mead campus; a “rain or shine” recreational fundraiser in which a small army of men, women, children and even friendly, socialized, leashed dogs walked to call attention to our society’s ongoing struggle with the effects of mental illness.

Each of the registered participants helped play a part in Carrier Clinic’s ongoing mission to provide the best care and treatment to those persons who come to us struggling with emotional and behavioral distress and addictive and psychiatric disorders—and each step took us closer to realizing a long-term goal of ensuring that no one who suffers from mental illness suffers in silence.

“Carrier does a great job in supporting the community,” said Walk of Hope participant Craig McKinley, one of many New Jersey residents who lined up at 9 a.m. to register for the event.

“The perception with many people is that mental illness isn’t something that deserves support,” said McKinley of his reasons for donating his Saturday to the cause. “Carrier got the word out that it’s something people need to concentrate on.”

Part of an “Active Minds” contingent from Georgian Court University in Lakewood, Clarissa DeLuca expressed the opinion that attitudes toward mental illness represent “a big speed bump in moving forward toward equality for everyone…some people just need extra help, not to be judged.”

Explaining that academic institutions like Georgian Court are actively engaged in expanding upon the Walk of Hope concept, DeLuca stated, “Universities are really the key to getting the word out and stopping the stigma.”

Also getting out the group effort were the Team Green Ninjas, a playful band of staffers (including at least one canine colleague) from East Mountain Hospital.

“We’re real tight, as close as family,” said Josh Tine, a Green Ninja in good standing and the team’s unofficial spokesman. “We work together every day, and this time we’re here for fun more so than work.”

In addition to the support of event sponsors such as Nass Tech, Birdsall Group, Electrical Concepts, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Dr. Jeffrey Hofman, Active Disposal and Financial Resources Federal Credit Union, the international onsite food services management company Sodexo (also a Carrier Clinic sponsor and one of many major clients in the healthcare industry) provided water and fresh fruit for the walkers. Electrical Concepts was most generous in providing bagels for all participants.

“We really enjoy working with the hospital,” said Tracy Hart, one of Sodexo’s people on site for the Walk of Hope.

“It brings to light the fact that addiction is a disease, not just a decision.” Added fellow Sodexo employee Brian Sullivan, “Anything we can do to get people the help they need, to raise awareness, lets them know that there is treatment out there; that we can recover from this.”

In all, 172 corporate and individual donors helped more than 150 fundraising Walk participants to raise almost $15,000 for Carrier Clinic®’s programs in the community—and all systems are a go for a second, even more successful Walk of Hope and Awareness in 2012.

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