MHPC Policymaker's Breakfast

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 for having me, Ernie. 


Host: It’s our pleasure. You're here because you have the entire lowdown on a big event that is coming up really fast on the horizon. The 12th Annual Policymakers Breakfast, that number sticks out in my mind. So, you've had eleven of these before. This, would you say that there is a particular reason MHPC finds it important to make policymakers available to the public? 


Guest: Yes, actually this is our 12th annual Policymaker's Breakfast. There was a break when we all went through the big thing with COVID but we're back at it again and we want to give the people who utilize the services the opportunity to connect with the people who are making policies up close and personal. And share some of their experiences as well as their concern. 


Host: Yeah, I was going to say many policymakers get sound bites on the news, but they aren't often in a position where the general public, particularly consumers of their services, as MHPC, people often are where they can actually pose them. First, what can you tell us about this year's guest? 


Guest: You know what, this year's guest is a really special guest. We have Mark O'Brien, the Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health. And again, we're going to give the people who utilize these services the opportunity to hear him talk about what's important to him as a person that helps create the policy, that provide these services for people in need of mental health, but more importantly, give them the opportunity to tell him what's important to them, what they feel they need and how the services can better serve them. And what better way to do that than over a meal. 


Host: Well, that sounds like a good occasion for camaraderie, but since this is taking place at a restaurant, people that attend are asked to make a donation. Could you tell us about that? 


Guest: Yes, we are asking for a $30 donation to attend the event. It's an opportunity to support MHPC and the services that we provide to the community, but more importantly, another part of this particular Policymaker’s Breakfast is to help us assist individuals who apply for our MHPC housing fund. So, I mean we're not helping people pay rents and all of that kind of stuff because we don't have a whole lot of money, but we help them to purchase items that they see as important to get into their homes that they might otherwise not be able to afford. 


Host: A kind of one-time expenses, like initial deposits, things of that nature. 


Guest: As long as the fundraising is successful, yes, we have in the past assisted with, like you said, one time housing deposits. But you know, I mean over the years where we haven't been as successful, we kind of scaled it down and we're helping people to purchase some of the things that actually support them in their new home. 

We'll help them with lamps and cleaning supplies. Or I mean maybe a bed. So, it depends on how successful the fundraising is for the housing fund to determine exactly what it is we can do for people. Of course, we wish we can help everybody to meet all of their needs. 


Host: Indeed, say we're running low on time. Can you tell us where and when this takes place? 


Guest: The 12th Annual Policymakers Breakfast is going to be at Templeton Landing, Friday, October 13th, 2023, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. And again, that's Templeton Landing located at 2 Templeton Terrace, Buffalo, NY 14202. There's still time to purchase tickets. You can reach out to Hayley at, or just call 836-0822, ext. 147. 


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


Guest: Thank you for having me, Ernie. 


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