Towns like Taos succeed and thrive because people voluntarily contribute their time, talents and resources in deep measure to our progress. Such a hero is Richard S. Watkins —just retiring from the Taos Behavioral Health Board after 12 years of extraordinary service. He arrived as it was a small collection of staff with a budget built only on donations and has guided its financial progress to becoming the largest Behavioral Health agency in northern New Mexico with solid financial systems and an outstanding staff of 55. [Read more…] about Saying Farewell to a Community Hero
What challenging, uncertain times we are living!
On the global scale we have a pandemic, protests for social justice, and an economic downturn. On the home front we need to isolate for an indefinite time period, with school children at home and many households full to bursting and others far too lonely, and recurrent anxiety about employment and financial security.
How can we not only survive but thrive in these unprecedented and unpredictable times? Can we take advantage of the opportunities while reducing the losses?
This column reflects our Taos Behavioral Health values and offers parenting tips to increase the wellbeing of children, parents and families, by nurturing emotional strengths and social skills. These are times of high emotions, but we may now, more than usual, have the time to reflect, consider and learn. [Read more…] about Parenting in the Summer of 2020: Part I
“No, Jose. That was too rough! Help him up and tell him you are sorry” stated the teacher. I was observing this activity in the Taos Behavioral Health small day care center for employees’ children. Six boys aged 3-6 were playing touch football in the side yard under the watchful eye of their teacher seated in a corner. It was an exuberant active scene—but with clear limits stated by their teacher. And the limits related to caring for others—noticing others—and quickly making an apology. [Read more…] about Learning from these Images
We are as polarized as we have ever been—in the nation—and in our community. The aftermath of the murder of George Floyd has increased the anger and grief over the state of justice in this country. To talk across the divides of positions or ideas seems fraught with danger. And danger—for some—seems to be ever present. Any communication about what we are each feeling seems to be even more dangerous. [Read more…] about Our Divided World—Large and Small
As the world deals with the challenge of COVID-19 and New Mexico acknowledges that it had a rapid uptake early in the pandemic, we want Taos to know we are still serving clients. On March 23, 2020 the NM Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathyleen M. Kunkel issued an emergency order closing all businesses and non-profit entities except those deemed essential . The order requires that certain essential businesses must continue to function and under section (6)k of that order, Taos Behavioral Health is considered an essential business and must continue to function.
Following the issuance of the order, TBH began to immediately plan with staff how to continue to function effectively. Meetings between the administration and each individual staff member established that ALL TBH employees were willing to continue to serve clients. [Read more…] about Taos Behavioral Health is Here for You
By Mary McPhail Gray
With the Governor’s recently announced closing of all New Mexico schools until the end of the school year, families in Taos will be challenged to cover care and supervision for their children. The board and staff at Taos Behavioral Health feel strongly that we need to respond to these needs. With the state closing of schools, we do not have access to any space from the school district. Therefore, we have developed a plan to work on site together with all our clients so that services can still be provided.
Outpatient therapy services will continue via telemed services and clients should keep their usual appointments. To protect our clients’ health, we have the guidance from the state Department of Health that establishes a protocol for keeping our space free of contamination. Each time a staff member or client enters our space, hand washing will be required. Rooms and equipment will be sanitized after each client session and at the end of a youth group. We have sanitizing equipment available to make certain this is done safely. [Read more…] about We’re Responding: Taos Behavioral Health
By Mary McPhail Gray
Here is a favorite Taos question: “How many nonprofits are there in Taos?” Often asked by people serving in one—or by residents asked to make donations—the answers may be “Over 100”—“No—over 200!” And then the subsequent conversation usually includes—“There are far too many and they all compete with each other for donations. The same 60 people get asked again and again.” There is a discouraged air about this conversation. All the “asks” can be categorized as worthy and it is frustrating to decide where to put resources.
Another common Taos question to newcomers is “Are you serving on any boards yet?” Notice the “yet”—because the invitation to serve on a board is often made to people coming new to Taos. Why? Well if the answer in the first paragraph is 100 and each NFP needs a board of 5-10 persons—there is a minimal need for 500-1000 people to be board members. That is a great deal of human service needed in the village.
So—not only is there competition for donations—but very real competition for excellent board members. In Taos Behavioral Health, we have a board of eight dedicated active members. Over the past 8 years, we have seen an additional sixteen board members join our ranks—and for a variety of reasons—both personal and professional then had to leave. In addition, we approached eleven others with an orientation to TBH and an invitation to serve—all of whom eventually declined. Recruiting and keeping great board members is time consuming and challenging. [Read more…] about The Power of Board Members
By Mary McPhail Gray
“Whenever we first receive a referral on a student who is struggling at school, we always ask them if there is anything going on at home that we should know about,” says Madalena Miera, the manager for the Comprehensive Community Support Services (CCSS) program for Taos High School and Chrysalis Program. The CCSS staff at Taos Behavioral Health provides wrap around services for students referred by teachers and counselors.
“Sadly, we may hear that a student is sleeping on the floor, that there is no heat in the house, that there is not enough food” states Miera—all situations that result in stress that can be seen at school. The CCSS staff then tries to activate appropriate community support to help the family and the student. [Read more…] about Relieving Stress: Services to Taos High School and the Chrysalis Program
By Mary McPhail Gray
“I tell all our new clients that they do not need to trust me just because I am the agency director. I have to earn their trust just as they have to earn mine,” says Walter Vigil, director of the Human Resource Development Agency in Taos. “I promise to be consistent and always honest with them. I expect them to follow their plan and do what they need to do to prove that they are serious about recovery.”
Vigil has been the director of HRDA since 1989 and has been in Taos providing services related to community policing for 36 years. At first a county employee initiating the first Community Corrections program in New Mexico, he began HRDA after 5 years when he realized a nonprofit agency was a more realistic model to implement services for the youth and young adult clients he was seeing. HRDA holds contracts with the New Mexico Office of Corrections—dealing with clients under their jurisdiction. They have offices also in Raton and Espanola. [Read more…] about New Partnership between TBH and HRDA
By Mary McPhail Gray
“I am having a bad Christmas because I am not with my family!” said a TBH youth client in foster care. “But this is the best break I have ever had because when I come to camp, they help me to not feel alone.”
This past holiday season TBH organized four therapeutic groups serving more than 60 students from elementary school through high school. And the staff—with the freedom of programing through entire days and with special support from a large number of Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque businesses– planned unique enrichment activities. Heard in the groups:
“It’s really cool that TBH could take us to all these fun trips. I feel really lucky.”
“My dream has been to see a ballet and I feel so happy that I got to see the Nutcracker.”
“We are lucky to be part of this group because it helps us to feel better and be better students.” [Read more…] about “It Takes a Village”: We Have One Helping Raise our Youth!