TO NEW AND EXCITING BEGINNINGS – WENDY BLANCHARD, M.S., CHHC

After three plus years of working at the Mental Health Association of Rockland, I am taking a new and exciting path, and will begin my new journey on December 16th.

I want to take this opportunity to say a deep and heartfelt THANK YOU to the entire Rockland County community…schools, educators, families, community partners, clients and patients, and Montefiore Hospital, and Good Samaritan Hospital, that I have been honored to serve.

The support of community connections has allowed me the opportunity to connect, and to serve and to support those in our community, and across NYS, living with mental illness and substance use disorder.

My journey has been so profound and so meaningful as I worked as the community educator on mental health & wellness, mental health first aid educator, suicide safety for schools educator, recovery/peer specialist, and client and family advocate in the county at MHA of Rockland. I did so much work as well with MHANYS, (Mental Health Association of NYS) and am so grateful for the many opportunities they have given me over the years, along with Stephanie Madison, our outstanding CEO/president at MHA Rockland, to do this work, to do speaking engagements, and to do the work I love so much in the community I love so much. I also want to give a special thanks to Marcella Amorese, who is now retired, but was my original supervisor. Marcella gave me so much encouragement and believed in me, even when I doubted myself. She was, and is, my earth angel.

I will soon celebrate 7 years of my own recovery, and feel so privileged to have done this work in my beloved community. Rockland is my home, and I felt very protective of those I served, always wanting to offer whatever was needed to offer solutions, hope and inspiration, and loving guidance. It was so important to me to offer information and possible solutions because when I was so ill and near death, I had NO idea of where to turn for help, who to talk to, or who I could trust in my addiction to prescription drugs, and living with severe depression and anxiety. I lived just a few miles away from MHA Rockland, and never knew it existed. Had I known, I would’ve asked for help decades before. THERE ARE MANY RESOURCES IN OUR COMMUNITY TO HELP THOSE LIVING WITH SUD AND MENTAL ILLNESS, AND FOR THEIR LOVED ONES.

Thank you to my MHA Rockland family for the ongoing love and support, and for the lifelong friendships that we have created. I truly hope that you know what you all mean to me. You are ALWAYS in my heart. YOU have been some of my greatest blessings on my journey.

This profound experience has now prepared me for what I have wanted to do for so long…to get back into teaching full time and to support youth through a holistic approach. I lived my entire youth, and decades beyond, with untreated trauma, not knowing how to care for myself, without any help, and now I will have the opportunity to implement mental health and wellness into a curriculum. I am a retired teacher/reading specialist, now out of retirement!

I am so deeply grateful for it all. When I began this journey of recovery in early 2013, I was terrified. Terrified that I would never make it on my own, terrified of change, terrified of going outside my comfort zone, terrified of all that I did not know how to do, or how to accomplish solo.

With ongoing loving support, self care, and discipline and dedication to my recovery, I made it. I am thriving.

Recovery is always an ongoing journey, and I never take one moment for granted. Every day is exciting. And so will this new chapter of my life. I am celebrating my life.

Last but never least, thank you to my incredible children. I am so blessed to have such loving and supportive children who have been cheering me on from the moment I began this journey. They are all so proud of me, and so excited for me. My son said to me the other day, “Mom, you have worked so hard. Nobody deserves this more than you. I’m so proud and behind you all the way.” Similar loving sentiments from my daughters. EVERYTHING THAT I DO, I DO FOR MY CHILDREN, MATTHEW, NICOLE, OLIVIA, (AND MATT), SARAH, AND MY AMAZING GRANDDAUGHTER, ROSIE.

Being the mom/grandma that they deserve, being present in their lives, and offering a legacy of meaning, purpose and inspiration, has been what I have strived for, and succeeded…ongoing.

Thank you Rockland for allowing me to serve you these past three years. It has been an honor and a privilege.

Moving forward with gratitude, and love,

Wendy

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