June 12, 2024
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Achieve Fetes Employees With Annual Appreciation Day at Boulders Stadium

Rainy weather did nothing to dampen spirits at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona, where more than 250 employees of Achieve Behavioral Health gathered on September 1 for the agency’s annual appreciation event. A celebration of the staff’s individual and collective successes in their often challenging line of work, this year’s Achieve Day was even more highly anticipated than usual because of the pandemic, offering a long-awaited opportunity for many staff members to meet face to face with coworkers for the first time.

While it may be the largest mental health provider in Rockland County’s Jewish community today, Achieve started 21 years ago as a small division of Bikur Cholim. With just a single therapist on staff and known at the time as CAPS—the Center for Applied Psychology—the agency brought rarely addressed mental health issues into the mainstream, and it soon became clear that the need for its service was very real.

Over time the agency evolved, leveraging big dreams, an abundance of passion and purpose and countless hours of hard work to expand its offerings and its staff to meet the needs of an ever-growing list of clients. Today, Achieve has locations in Monsey, Airmont, Pomona and Monroe, as well as an extremely diverse staff of over 325 English and Yiddish-speaking employees, the vast majority of whom come from the Monsey area, Bergen County and Passaic, a real reflection of the population it serves. Its stellar reputation in the mental health world is proof positive that Achieve lives up to its name, providing a wide array of health, psychiatric, psychotherapy, therapeutic and support services for adults and children.

Employees coming into the Rockland Boulders stadium were greeted by a cheerful atmosphere, Achieve swag, hot and cold drinks and a full breakfast buffet. Threatening skies kept the event out of the rain on the ballpark’s concourse, but it was hard not to be swept away by the festive feel of the day, the relaxed vibe of the stadium making it abundantly clear that every person on the Achieve staff is a valued member of a team dedicated to improving lives through cultural sensitivity, compassion and excellence.

Chief clinical officer Dr. Yitzchak Schechter kicked off Achieve Day by outlining the event’s multiple goals, which included showing appreciation to the staff and providing them with some much-needed downtime and a break from their day-to-day responsibilities, as well as a healthy dose of inspiration and education. Equally important was creating an opportunity for Achieve’s many employees to connect and reconnect with each other, an important step in being able to better help clients in their journey to good health.

The day’s program included remarks from Achieve CEO Aron Reiner, who, like Schechter, has been with the agency from its early days as a division of Bikur Cholim. Also addressing employees were Achieve’s clinical leadership team of Dr. Jonathan Frohlich, Dr. Joseph Nissenfeld, Dr. Jonathan Feiner and Dr. Stephanie Hartman. Participants were mesmerized by Rabbi YY Jacobson’s keynote speech on the spiritual science of mental health and were touched by his heartfelt bracha that they be able to connect with every client on their own level, sharing with them the song that brings joy to their heart and soul.

Also on the agenda were lightning learning rounds, with Achieve providers and members of its leadership team offering mini courses on a variety of areas including ADHD, mental health stigmas, the psychology of forgiveness and a staff Naloxone training. Participants had the ability to choose two out of three tracks offered during a two-hour session, each of which also included a 10-minute question and answer period. Presentations from all of Achieve’s directors, program heads and supervisors introduced the entire staff to the many services offered, acquainting them with treatment options for their clients that they may have not been aware of, further expanding their ability to provide each one with the best possible care.

In addition to the various educational elements of the schedule, Achieve Day’s lighter side included games and puzzles and an expansive lunch spread and dessert table, which served as the backdrop for team members to network and enjoy spirited conversation with friends old and new.

Spending a day applauding its employees is par for the course at Achieve, where clients are able to enjoy the best possible outcomes because of the high caliber of its clinical workers. Schechter noted that providing opportunities for staff to meet may foster positive relationships but it also has an additional benefit.

“Collaboration is crucial and with so many different services and treatment approaches available, part of the goal of Achieve Day is for everyone—psychologists, social workers, case managers and others—to work together in order to have the biggest impact,” Schechter said. “Therapy and mental health are no longer a one-man sport or a solo activity. We have a team, and that is the power that we bring to the table.”

Another equally important part of the Achieve equation is the makeup of its staff, the broad mix of socio-religious and communal backgrounds creating a culture of fundamental respect. Schechter is a strong believer in balancing professionalism and compassion, while also inspiring the entire Achieve team to give their all to every client.

“I want every single person, whether it is the head of clinics, secretaries and everyone else to bring excellence into their scope of practice,” he said. “That excellence needs to be balanced with humility to understand someone else’s pain, experience and perspective.”

Having been with Achieve for four years, peer support specialist Tzipora Schiffer appreciates being able to work in a setting that provides her with multiple resources that can help her steer clients towards positive outcomes.

“The environment, professionalism, warmth, learning opportunities and care from the higher-ups for employees and clients really isn’t something I take for granted,” said Shiffer. “I have been here for four years and hope to be here another 40.”

Dr. Susan Hoerter, acting commissioner for the Rockland County Department of Health, reflected on Achieve’s growth as she took advantage of the opportunity to come to the ballpark and enjoy Achieve Day.

“We really appreciate Achieve’s focus on excellent training and innovation and being very progressive on their approach to mental health and substance abuse disorders,” said Hoerter. “We think the future is very bright for Achieve, and that they are bringing a lot of wonderful services to many people in Rockland County.”

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