July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

OHEL’s Retreat Provides Inspiration and Renewal

This past week, OHEL’s Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) went on a three-day retreat to Bushkill Inn, in the Poconos. Over 120 individuals and staff participated in the trip, all of whom live in an OHEL residence or in OHEL’s supported housing and apartment programs.

While trip participants have significant psychiatric disabilities, through the help of OHEL’s dedicated and devoted team of staff and therapists, many are effectively managing their illness, leading fulfilled, happy and very independent lives integrated within the community.

This annual trip not only gives participants of OHEL’s AMHS an opportunity to feel special, but like any vacation, it provides them a temporary relief from the anxieties of life. It gives them an opportunity to go beyond their normal limits, and the freedom to push themselves out of their comfort zones.

Various life situations and settings that may seem passive for some people can carry much anxiety and tension for others. The individuals had the opportunity to experience countless activities and situations that others may take for granted. Some individuals felt inspired to talk to new people, while others were encouraged to sit and mingle with large groups. Some members tried new foods, while others overcame fears—whether the fear of talking to others or swimming in water.

There were a whole bunch of activities that were aimed at breaking down social barriers and encouraging socialization among OHEL’s individuals, like spoon beading, painting, adult coloring, Zumba, water aquatics, mini golf, bingo, sports trivia, boating sports and of course hiking to Dingmans Falls. While walking the pathway clients enjoyed viewing the scenic Dingmans and Bushkill Falls, many walking arm in arm as they climbed steps and were assisted by OHEL AMHS staff. Everyone enjoyed a lively bonfire complete with singing, led by several young men, and all enjoyed roasted marshmallows and hot dogs. Sarah Kahan, LCSW and OHEL’s Socialization Director, led about 30 clients in ice-breaker and socialization groups and classes, breaking down stigmas of those societally deemed unfit to date and get married due to mental illness. Three potential matches were made on the spot!

Chani Gross, an OHEL resident, remarked that she “was enthralled by the trip and the range of special planned activities.

”Saul Kessler, owner of Bushkill Inn, left these parting remarks: “Last year I didn’t spend as much time with the group. This year I was around more and had a chance to observe and see what really goes on. OHEL’s work is amazing and it was great to see everyone enjoying their time here again. I guess that’s what this is about. Being a part of a group and fitting in with everyone else.”

OHEL owes much gratitude to Kessler, Isaac Greenwald and the staff of Bushkill Inn and Conference Center for going out of their way to have the rooms ready and constantly asking what was needed. Thank you to Greenwald catering staff for welcoming our clients back and personally serving them with patience and care.

OHEL would like to thank the donors, sponsors, and family members, without whom this trip would not have been possible. Mr. and Mrs. Bert Gross, Mrs. Rose Pollack and many others spent countless hours of their time and energy making sure that OHEL had everything they needed to go on this trip. OHEL’s devoted staff worked tirelessly to make sure that this trip was a success, and that every individual had an unforgettable few days away from the city. What a way to end the year and begin the New Year with so many individuals feeling refreshed, invigorated and accomplished.

Since 1969, OHEL has served as a dependable haven of individual and family support, helping people of all ages surmount disability and everyday challenges, heal from trauma and manage with strength and dignity during times of crises. OHEL serves thousands in need every day in communities in New York, New Jersey, California and worldwide.

Individuals interested in the many programs that OHEL offers should contact OHEL at 800-603-OHEL (6435). Like us on Facebook at OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services and follow us on Instagram @ohelfamily/

By JLNJ Staff

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