New Director of MHPC transcript

Guest:  Kevin Smith

Topic:  New Director of MHPC

Duration:  5:29

Published:  7/8/2021

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Kevin Smith, Director of Mental Health PEER Connection (MHPC) and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Kevin.

Guest:  Thank you, Ernie, thank you for having me.

Host:  It's our pleasure. Many people familiar with MHPC tend to think of Maura Kelley who founded it as being the person in charge, but if they heard our program of a few weeks ago, they know Maura has been promoted to Behavioral Health Peer Liaison, which means she deals with organizations, individuals, government agencies and whatnot all for the benefit of the community of people with mental health concerns. So, they found an able replacement in yourself, but they just didn't run out on the street and cast the net at the first person they found, you worked your way to the top. Can you tell us how you came to be in this position?

Guest:  Oh yes, I first was introduced to Maura Kelley back in 2003, came to the agency seeking services and later on that year, you know Maura offered me a job. First job she offered me was with the Job Club, basically just helping individuals out in the community to come in and learn about the benefits of employment. Also, under Maura Kelley, I was a Person Centered Go Developer, where we helped individuals who came to the agency with one goal or another to accomplish that goal, whatever that looks like. We had the Enhancement Program where I worked as an Enhancement Navigator and an Employment Specialist, basically we helped individuals who was receiving social services to rely less on the system to gain the skills necessary to become gainfully employed or either the training they needed to gain to become gainfully employed. Another position that I worked while working under Maura Kelley was the Buffalo Mental Health Court. I was a Peer Support Specialists in Buffalo Mental Health Court, helping individuals who have been charged with minor crimes to get the services that they needed to one, address their mental health and two, be less likely to run into have run ins with law enforcement. Crisis Services, I was the Team Leader for Mobile Transition Support and Crisis Intervention Team, work with individuals coming out of the psychiatric units to stay out of the hospital, basically. There was an opportunity after that where I was the Vocational Coordinator. I worked for that, for a short time and then another opportunity came about, and I went from Vocational Coordinator to MHPC Coordinator, and then from MHPC Coordinator servicing or coordinating all the programs under MHPC or most of them. I became the Assistant Director, so I've worked closely with Maura and you know I mean the programs in MHPC for a very long time. I'm really familiar with a lot of the programs so that we have and then we offer the old ones and new ones. And I just want to get the opportunity to take MHPC to that next level and keep this legacy going that Maura has built and allowed me to walk with her along the way, since 2003.

Host:  Boy, you've really given us the grand tour of the sort of services MHPC offers to individuals with those concerns. But of course, you're always following the Independent Living, practice of the consumers will comes first, and they choose the directions they want to take and the services they want to participate in, which is all for the better. And as a longtime employee of Independent Living, I can certainly salute you on that. In the minute we have remaining, are there any plans you have for exciting things and changes?

Guest:  Well, you know, like I said earlier, I just want to keep up the great work that the agency has been doing, I mean, helping people in a community to develop the skills to help them maintain their wellness. We're always looking for new opportunities to serve people and meet their needs in areas where they may not be getting the services that we need. So I'm going to be looking out for that and we just hope to expand our reach in the community and help as many people as we possibly can, because like I said I came to these doors in 2003 looking for services and the agency has helped me so much, and I want to continue that for other people.

Host:  I'm sure people will have questions, how can they reach you?

Guest:  You can reach me at 716-836-0822 extension 147 or by email,

Host:  Thanks so much for being with us, Kevin.

Guest:  Thank you Ernie.

Host:  You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Kevin Smith, Director of MHPC and your host is yours truly, Ernie Churchwell.