IF YOUR ARE IN CRISIS
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by Gabriel Nathan, Development Specialist
I have to admit to feeling a tad out-of-place initially inside the sumptuously ornate walls of Salve Regina University’s Young Building, a Queen Anne-style mansion originally built in 1850. Salve Regina itself is 75 acres and has its own Cliff Walk, with gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean. This was the setting for the 2nd International Thornton Wilder Conference, held from June 11-June 13 in Newport, Rhode Island. The conference is a gathering of folks who teach, study, write about, perform, direct and are intrigued by the works of one of America’s most celebrated playwrights.
The Thornton Wilder Society invited me to present a paper on MCES’s experience with producing Our Town at Building 33 in December. An impressive array of Wilder scholars were assembled at the conference, nationally from North Carolina, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, and internationally from Mexico, China, France, Italy and Iran. Noted American playwrights Paula Vogel, Will Eno, and Matthew Burnett participated in a playwright’s panel on the importance of Wilder on contemporary American theatre and Vogel was presented with the Thornton Wilder Award at the closing night banquet. Thornton Wilder’s nephew, Tappan Wilder, was also present, as was Rosey Strub, Programs Manager for the Wilder Estate. Both Tappan and Rosey were enthusiastic supporters of MCES’s production.
I sat on a panel entitled “Wilder in Production” and presented my paper, “Our Norristown: The Staff of a Crisis Psychiatric Hospital Creates a Life-Changing Experience, Their Production of Our Town.” While I was identified in the program as an “Independent Scholar,” there was nothing very scholarly about my paper, but it told the honest story of our small hospital and our big play. While beautiful rehearsal and performance pictures taken by Julie Peticca and Paul Butler played on a slideshow in the background, I talked about how we came together as a cast to produce meaningful, creative theatre for ourselves and the community, and how we were changed by the experience.
The paper was received very warmly by all in attendance, and I was approached by countless individuals who asked further questions about our process. People were amazed by the courage and enthusiasm with which 22 plus mental health professionals took leave of their insecurities (and their senses?) and became real characters in Thornton Wilder’s best-loved, most-performed play. Conference participants offered sincere support and gratitude for our efforts to not only become united by Thornton Wilder, but to share his work with our community.
They were also quite moved by the extraordinary work done at MCES, every single day.
Click to view the OC87 Recovery Diaries profile on MCES’s Our Town Performance
MCES is honored to announce a grant from the Mary Daly MacFarland Foundation to support a Staff Concert Series at MCES.
MCES is a rewarding place to work, but it is also stressful and challenging at times, and these concerts will give staff members a unique opportunity to engage in a culturally-enriching, tranquil and relaxing experience, without ever leaving the hospital. Throughout the upcoming year, there will be eight concert events that will take place at varying times throughout the day and evening for staff members to attend and enjoy.
The concerts will take place in the MCES Board Room, and all performances will feature high-quality, professional musicians from the Philadelphia area. These events are being made available due to the success of the grant-funded Inpatient Concert Series for the patients, which have also been enjoyed by accompanying staff members. The Mary Daly MacFarland Foundation made this grant in memory of Mary Daly MacFarland and of her daughter, Elizabeth A. Wilson.
On June 23, three outstanding musicians put on a great show in the MCES gym for patients and staff.
Leon Jordan, Sr., Chris Aschman, and Alex Day wowed their audience with a tremendous display of talent and skill as they effortlessly worked their way through songs both modern and classic. Leon, a gifted percussionist, commanded the drums, while the multi-talented Chris seamlessly moved from the steel drum to the trumpet to the keyboard and Alex Day’s gorgeous voice cut through the air and filled the gym.
Click here to view the performance
Even though the musicians came prepared with a carefully-constructed set-list, they threw all that out the window and instead accommodated request after request from the audience, including songs by Billie Holiday, Bruno Mars, and an especially powerful and moving Alicia Keys number. At times, folks were up out of their chairs dancing, singing along (especially to “My Girl”) or just listening intently to three fine musicians who provided an outstanding hour of music on a stormy Tuesday night.
Leon has long been a prominent Philadelphia-based musician and has studied at the University of the Arts Conservatory. He has recorded with Chaka Kahn, The Stylistics, and Grover Washington, Jr., just to name a few, and heads his own twelve-piece band. The versatile Chris has been featured at World Café Live, the TLA, the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall and many other venues nationwide. Alex has been performing with Leon Jordan’s band for many years and she has released two albums, “No Castles, No Moats” (2008) and “Untangle” (2011).
This concert was a joint collaboration between Art-Reach and Musicopia, two arts-based non-profit organizations in Philadelphia working to increase outreach, education, and access to the arts. The concert was paid for by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and is part of MCES’s 2014-2015 Inpatient Concert Series.
MCES is in the process of developing a Strategic Plan that will help guide the future of the organization.
Your thoughts, feelings, and opinions are valuable and will be considered throughout the development of this plan. Please take a moment to thoughtfully respond to the survey you feel best represents you. A similar survey has been sent out to all MCES staff members for their feedback.
Providers and Payers
Patients, Family Members, Visitors
The MCES Community Continuity-of-Care Registered Nurse Program, a visiting nurse program where MCES's psychiatric RNs go out into the community to provide care following inpatient discharge, is beginning its second year.
Three additional RNs will be added to the roster of nurses who are making home visits and MCES is adding a new component to the program: cellphones. Life has become difficult to navigate without a cellphone, yet, for some patients who are hospitalized at MCES, that is their reality.
MCES is distributing pre-paid Trac-Fones to patients enrolled in the MCES CCOC-RN Program who do not have access to a cellphone or a landline. These phones will enable MCES RNs to maintain telephone contact with the patients on their caseload, conduct telephone follow-up calls and schedule visits. Patients participating in the MCES CCOC-RN Program will also receive automatic voice alerts to remind them to take their medications, in the hope that this will increase medication adherence and decrease recidivism.
The MCES CCOC-RN Program is funded through grants from the Dr. H. Glenn Sample, Jr. Memorial Foundation through PNC Charitable Trust, and the van Ameringen Foundation.
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