Independent Perspective 1703 with Randy Oaks about his new "Wellness for All" support group
Host: Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). My guest today is Randy Oaks, Peer Support Specialist with Mental Health PEER Connection (MHPC) and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Randy.
Guest: Hi, Ernie. How are you doing?
Host: Great. You're here because you're announcing the kickoff of a brand-new support group to help people who have certain concerns in the behavioral health area or beyond it, I suppose. Can you tell us well, first of all, when does it start? And whom is the Wellness for All support group for?
Guest: The first group will start on July 1, Friday, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. It will be at the Amity Club which is on 340 Military Road it's on the corner of Hertel and Military Road in Riverside. It's basically a group to help people with socializing. Right now it seems like there's not much for people to just go out and have an atmosphere for socializing. There are amenities at the club of where there are pool table, a dartboard, foosball table. There's a jukebox that can be played. It has internet access and TV. It serves beverages and snacks. For anyone who wants to come out. It's just really to help out with what I've seen a lot of consumers just not having anywhere to go and socialize with their peers. It's going to be helping anyone in the WNYIL community, MHPC community and the community in general. Anybody that wants to come in.
Host: For the benefit of people that aren't familiar with Amity Club, it has a plus for people that have a particular concern, in that alcohol will not be an issue. Can you tell us something about that?
Guest: Yes, the Amity Club is a sober and clean establishment that has been operating for 42 years now. It was set up to help the AAA and NA groups at first initially started in Buffalo, New York. And it's been providing place for meetings to be held and people to come socialize in a sober and social and clean setting for quite some time.
Host: Well I think that's a wonderful establishment. Many people when they hear that it's in a club that serves beverages, the assumption might be made that there will be alcohol and thus rowdiness accompanying it, but that's not the concern here. How are you getting the word out about this since it's just starting out?
Guest: We linked with community engagement; they'll be sending out with our usual announcements. I've gotten my own fliers and I'm going to start putting up around different places that I go, and this.
Host: Do people have to pre-register in order to attend or can they just turn up?
Guest: No, they can just show up. I’m probably just going to have a sign in sheet just so we can show who was there and what you know, just so I can make a documentation of it for service purposes.
Host: That sounds like a practical step. So you're hoping that word will go out to everybody in the greater Buffalo area that this is a place where they can be social without there being any pressures, without there being noisy people because they've had a bit too much or whatnot. But just a place to enjoy themselves on a purely social level. And do you have any projections for particular aspects of the program that haven't been announced?
Guest: I don't have anything particular for right now. It's, I plan to usually just do like a group thing with the people that are there and discuss, you know, basically setting up a social structure between them so that you know, we give the peer support from peers of where they can, you know, to help one another. That's what I'm going to try to emphasize when we gather, that it's the peers trying to help one another.
Host: Randy, we're running short on time. If people have questions, how can they reach you?
Guest: They can call me at 716-836-0822 extension 182.
Host: Thanks so much for being with us, Randy and best of luck with this exciting new enterprise.
Guest: Thank you very much.
Host: You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today has been Randy Oaks, Peer Support Specialist with MHPC. And I've been your host Ernie Churchwell.