Deck Building

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Deck building is a productive use of time and provides much time for thought. Envisioning the space it will occupy, figuring out where to place the steps, attaching the ledger and digging the footings by hand are the beginning steps for years of fun. The deck provides space and time to think while observing the birds and taking in the air.  An outdoor office, or living room it can be.

The deck is constructed and maintained. When the deck is done and complete you are able to appreciate the foundation of support knowing that it is there to stay.

Maintaining the deck is an annual labor of love. The deck boards become new again and the railing and balusters become one with the space. The powerful rains bead on the surface and I can breathe in a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that the experience of a deck will continue for another year.

Metaphorically, our personal ledger boards and foundations for existence can be just as simple or much more unseen. Think of all the experiences we have both good and bad as the weather we endure. The winds are the thoughts we think as they are unseen yet sometimes felt.

What do we do to maintain ourselves from year to year? Sometimes this may be too much or not enough. We are complex but simple.

-By Rob Bergeson, Youth Care Coordination Team Advocate


Favorite Childhood Memory


I am writing this blog to share my favorite childhood memory in hopes that you will have one of your own to reflect upon. A memory can be as real as it was yesterday or as present as it was fifty years ago.

My favorite childhood memory is fishing with my Father. My Father and I would choose different lakes in the area for our Saturday morning fishing adventures. I enjoyed sitting at the very front of our fishing boat as my Father would run the outboard motor at the back. When he ran the motor at full throttle I could feel the boat bounce on top of the waves. The smell of fresh lake water would carry in the breeze as we sped around the lake. I most enjoyed the lake when it was calm as it looked like a sheet of smooth glass stretched out before me. The plunking sound of a fishing bobber would fill the air as I cast my line in the water. My eyes would widen when my bobber would quickly disappear from the surface from the pull of a fish. I would snag and jerk my line in hopes of reeling in a huge fish. My father taught me how to carefully remove the hook from the mouth of a fish before I would set it free.

I always smile when I remember fishing with my Father. Many years have now since passed since those Saturday morning fishing trips. Time has taught me that the bond between Father and Son is what made those memories special to me. Now when I close my eyes I can remember those days since passed with joy and with a remembrance of the love I have for my Father.

I truly hope you have a favorite childhood memory to reflect upon. I hope it is a memory filled with joy, excitement, and discovery. Please feel free to share your favorite childhood memory in our comments section.

-By David Dziegielewski, Operations Assistant

Interview with Abby Matthews

Q: What is the name of your Department? What is the mission and vision of your Department?

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Abby Matthews- CCS Administrator, Outpatient Therapist, Wellness Captain

I oversee the Comprehensive Community Services department at APC.  We recently identified the following mission:

‘Providing a respectful and supported experience for members while collaborating with others to assist in reaching the overall vision members have for their lives.  This process occurs within a welcoming and supportive environment that fosters growth through person centered approaches and appreciation of self-determination.’

Each team within CCS is in the process of defining their vision under the mission, in essence- defining what their team contributes to the overall mission.

Q: How do you feel your Department best serves our community?

CCS best serves the community because it all about choice and options.  A member of the program chooses what the goals of their recovery plan will be, who will be on their recovery team, which supports or services are needed to overcome obstacles, who is going to provide these supports/services, and for the most part dictate where services will be provided. These choices empower the members to participate in the recovery process and we’ve seen many people within the program find stability and a new direction after drawing out their own roadmap for recovery.

Q: What do you feel motivates your employees to be successful on a Daily basis?

I believe that the staff within all four teams of CCS are change agents.  They value their role in assisting others through the stages of change.  I also believe that we have a positive and supportive work environment (unless you’re a Bears fan…). We’ve developed a Staff Culture Pledge that promotes the aspects of a positive work environment that the staff created.  Check out the pledge below!

CCS Staff Culture Pledge

We, the staff of Comprehensive Community Services (CCS), agree that we are all equal and we will work in a way that creates an atmosphere that is:

Open minded and self-aware


Assuming the best in people and realizing that everyone makes mistakes

Flexible and respecting the time of others

Patient with each other

Guidance orientated and supportive

Relaxed (a light-hearted environment)

Self-care driven

Effective in communication and regularly practices shared decision making.

Self-reflection questions:

  1. What behaviors do I regularly demonstrate as a colleague?
  1. What behaviors might I enhance to be the colleague I want to become?
  1. What steps can I take to maintain my strengths and grow in areas I identified in question 2?
  1. Who of my colleagues can I talk to about these commitments I have made?

**If you feel as if this pledge has not been followed, openly communicate with the staff member in a timely manner, be calm, listen, problem solve together, forgive, and move on.  Reach out for support as needed during this process.

Q: What about your Department makes you the most proud?

It has been a wonderful experience to see how much CCS has grown over the years. I began in April 2015 when there were only 3 Care Coordinators, 1 Peer Support, and an Administrator. Despite the program’s growth, the one thing that always remained the same was the staff’s dedication to the program and the belief in its success and the collaboration with one another. It has been an honor to serve within CCS and to work along side so many awesome people that continue to inspire me daily.

Q: What inspires you about APC?

I have never worked in an organization like APC; which is a sad thing if you think about it. The way employees’ opinions and experiences are valued is unprecedented.  When you have leadership that can be candid and open, it fosters an immense level of trust and safety which then allows you as an employee to grow into the best person you can be (not just in your work role but overall really discover who you are, what your purpose is, and how to collaborate with others that are pursuing the same venture). The MC3 values are huge and not just preached but practiced, which is inspiring to me as well. I just love it here and I’m so thankful that I jumped off the train wreck I was on to make the change!! I never regretted that decision 😊

-Abby Matthews

CCS Administrator, Outpatient Therapist, Wellness Captain

What motivates you to be successful in your role at APC? Feel free to comment below!

Qi Gong in the Park

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sun.png As the monarch butterflies dance amongst the blades of bright green grass and the Blue Jay bird whisps through the treetops, the scenery has been set for the perfect Qi Gong practice. I say practice because the only one of us present who is an expert at Qi Gong was our instructor Pam Fleider. I think most of the participants came to this session not really knowing what to expect. Not knowing we were going to be swans flying over the earth, soaking up the Earth’s beauty to use for our own energy and benefit. Sounds a little unbelievable, I know. But, the biggest thing about Qi Gong for me was the process of being able to open my mind to the possibilities. The possibility that my human self can transform into a conduit for energy to flow. That I can actually utilize the earth, sun, and sky to recharge myself; just as other species do.

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sun.png For example, when a lizard basks in the sun. The lizard isn’t making himself vulnerable to predators just to get an awesome suntan. The lizard is basking because it needs the vitamins and nutrients the sun gives. The lizard intentionally gets intense exposure to the sun for at least a certain amount each day solely to survive. Maybe humans are connected in similar ways; needing the earth and the sky to infuse us with energy and natural nutrients.  Everything I need to relax and work on the best me is all around me, always; I just have to practice on how to access it. Through certain movements and techniques, I am able to open up channels of my being to give and receive different types of energy. The giving part is just as important as the taking part. There is something huge to learn in the practice of what you take from the Earth, you must give back to maintain balance. Even if it is something you can only feel and not see, like energy frequencies. If you only received from the Earth what you gave it, what would you get?

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sun.png When my bare feet intentionally press into the damp earth, I am able to feel an organic, electrifying yet calming connection unlike anything else I have experienced before. I begin to appreciate even the littlest creatures in nature’s eco-system; like ants or the cicada bugs. The cicada bugs buzzing begin to sound melodic, as if they were singing a sweet song. Even the way the trees sway becomes admirable. Gazing at the lagoon in front of me becomes hypnotic.

sun.png Learning the techniques of Qi Gong can seem complex. There are so many spiritual and physical benefits to doing Qi Gong. Since I am not familiar with them all, I figured I would share my experience on how it made me feel. I find the feeling of something is paramount to the actions of actually doing it perfectly. In the beginning, I hobbled along always a few steps behind the instructor. By my 3rd practice, I was feeling like an energy transmitting guru! Holding spheres of energy between my palms, blasting the power balls wherever I needed it most; reaping the blessings of my work.  I am not a master by any means. Which is why I wanted to focus on how Qi Gong made me feel. If you got a sense of how Qi Gong might make you feel and are interested in learning more, do not hesitate to dive right in and begin a Qi Gong practice. There is much information scattered across the internet and in books you can independently research. Although, I would suggest speaking to Pam Fleider here at APC to get a human feel for Qi Gong. She’s a busy lady but, through my experience, she has always made time for a little Qi Gong.

– By Mary Moftah, Assistant Provider Relations Coordinator

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What was the last thing you did outside of your comfort zone? Please share in the comments!

Self-Care is the Best Care

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A lot of us spend countless hours of the day tending to others. Maybe it’s the kids or a spouse, or it could be your job or your friends…whatever it is, it rarely seems to be you.

Why are we afraid to put ourselves first? It feels like society has taught us that loving and tending to ourselves is a selfish act when it is the most selfless and necessary thing you can do! Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity and for that reason, it should also be a priority. Especially if you work in a profession that requires you to care for others. The last thing you need is to get “burnt out” doing something you love to do, so finding ways to decompress and refresh your mind (and spirit) is vital. And there isn’t a right or wrong way to self-care; there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to take. So, let’s talk about it. Here are some of the most basic ways take care of yourself:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Saying “no” when you are at your limits
  • Taking time throughout the day to decompress
    • A few minutes of deep breathing
    • Taking a quick walk
    • Stretching
  • Read ‘that’ book you’ve had on your list (or at least start it)

Some of us wait too long to pay attention to ourselves and get frustrated or confused at the outcome. But you have to treat you how you treat your car (or should treat your car- LOL). You shouldn’t drive it on E; put gas in it! You should be taking preventative measures like oil changes, rotating the tires, whatever it takes to keep the car running smoothly. What does it take to keep you running smoothly? If you’ve been neglecting yourself, you may need to take your self-care a step further.

  • Write in a journal
  • Take yourself on a date (yes, alone)
  • Get a massage, facial or pedicure (yes, you guys too J)
  • Meditate/Pray (get in tune with yourself)
  • Make plans – give yourself something fun and spontaneous to look forward to
  • Sit in silence (practice mindfulness)
  • Find ways to fall in love with YOU

It doesn’t matter how many hours of the day you spend caring for people if you’re not taking the time to care for yourself. Like they say, you can’t pour from an empty glass. Self-care is the best care! Love you first and most…

-By Kaprice Gilbert, Referral Coordinator, Family Support Services

Comment on the different ways you care for yourself below 🙂

Volunteer- Be the Difference


I am writing this blog to share my experiences and perspective on being a volunteer. I believe a volunteer to be someone who gives of themselves to help others in need. I am hopeful that in sharing my experiences that you may be inspired to become a volunteer.

I believe my most rewarding and recent volunteer effort to be that of volunteering at a hospital. I volunteered in wheelchair transport. The duty itself included greeting patients at their rooms and wheeling them to the hospital exits upon their discharge from the hospital.

There were moments of compassion and humor as I wheeled and whirled patients throughout the hospital. I recall wheeling a patient down a ramp and then having the wheelchair kind of get away from me. With extreme fear and adrenaline, I was able to catch up to the chair in seconds to avoid any mishap. I guess you will have to take me at my word that was the first and last time that ever happened.

There were also moments of kindness and compassion. Once I wheeled an elderly woman to the exit upon her discharge. I recall that she had never smiled or said a word to me as I greeted her in her hospital room. I tried idle chit chat and expressed my hope that she would feel better soon as I wheeled her to the exit. She never said a word. However, once we got to the exit she asked me to wheel her outside to wait for her taxi. I could see her smile as she looked up at a bright blue sky on sunny spring day. She grabbed my arm to lift herself out of the chair as the taxi arrived. She then turned around and smiled and gave me a hug. I smiled and wished her well as she drove off. I never did know her illness as that was private and reason enough for my respect. What I do know is she was and is a woman of dignity and she took that with her when she left.

I believe volunteering to be the greatest gift of all. Volunteering is an act of kindness and charity. It is my philosophy that someone in need of help is reason enough to help. I would like to challenge you to be a volunteer. The Internet is an excellent way to search for volunteer opportunities that interest you. You may wish to give some time at a food pantry or homeless shelter. You may wish to be a companion and volunteer with the elderly. You may wish to work an event that allows those with disabilities to have fun. Volunteers can and do make a difference in our daily lives. I encourage you to be that someone. I feel that together we can all choose to make the world a better place for everyone.

-By David Dziegielewski, Operations Assistant

Do you Volunteer? If so, where? What is your favorite thing about volunteering? Please leave your replies in our comment section.


An Open Door- Seeking Help for Mental Illness

doorI am writing this blog to that person who suffers from mental illness and is afraid or ashamed to seek help. Please remember that you are not alone. The latest statistics from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) cites that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some sort of mental illness.

Mental Illness is a frightening disease to cope with. I’m sure there are times when you feel alone, confused, and scared. I hope you have friends with whom you can share your thoughts. Remember that mental illness is a treatable illness. The internet may be a valuable resource allowing you to search for support groups that address your specific issues. There are dedicated mental health professionals in your community that can listen, treat, and offer support to you.

I believe in positive change. I feel we are all bound together by the experience. The Human experience. No one should have to feel afraid or ashamed of seeking help for mental illness. I truly hope that you can reach out and find help for yourself. I know you can do it.

-By David Dziegielewski, Operations Assistant

Have you been affected by mental illness and found yourself afraid or unsure of where to turn for help? In the comments, please share any resources you’ve found helpful, or ways social support has impacted your or a loved one’s healing journey.

Interview with Krista McNeil

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Krista McNeil, REACH Care Coordination Supervisor

Q: What is the name of your Department? What is the mission and vision of your Department?

The REACH department’s mission is to assist children and families in meeting their mental health needs in a strength based, family centered way. We believe that a strong community based plan helps keep families together.

Q: How do you feel your Department best serves our community?

We do our best to maintain connections the family already has within their own community as well as bring new connections in to provide sustainable and positive opportunities for children and families to receive support and comfort when needed. We also assist in helping children and families find ways to meet their needs in a safe way to encourage them to stay positive and hopeful for a bright future.

Q: What do you feel motivates your employees to be successful on a Daily basis

REACH Care Coordinators have the opportunity to see their children and families grow and meet their goals within a short time period; such as graduating high school, successfully completing programming for Delinquency services and seeing positive change within their family. These things keep us going and encourage us to continue working hard for the families we serve.

Q: What about your Department makes you the most proud?

I am personally so proud of the dedicated, motivated and inspirational leaders I have on my team. Their willingness to never give up; sticking to the values and philosophy of the program we are a part of and their ability to adapt to different situations allows them to meet the needs of their families and create lifelong relationships with the people we work with.

Q: What inspires you about APC?

APC offers opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds to work in a supportive and encouraging environment which has allowed me to feel like part of a family for the past nine years. The encouraging and motivating atmosphere keeps me working hard to meet the needs of the families we serve.

What motivates and/or inspires you at APC? We want to know! Feel free to share in the comment section below.

“The Art of Healing” by Melissa Meier

I have always been a perfectionist. I have always strived to be the best I could be and then some. In searching for perfection, I found, it often leads us to disappointment, depression, and anxiety. I have actually struggled with anxiety and depression for the majority of my life. The ups and downs of life can feel impossible to handle. If you add in the trauma that some of us may have faced, I found myself fearing the world. When you are anxious, you do not just fear the physical world. You can become a prisoner to your own mind. For me, I feared what my life would be in the future, I feared who I would become, what people thought of me, if I was perfect enough, I re-played everything in my head and it never ended.

Then one day, my sister who also struggles with anxiety and perfectionism, bought me a pack of brushes, a pack of canvases, and some acrylic paint. I laughed. I told her I was not an artist and she should not have wasted the money. Then something happened. I tried.

That day I learned that I painted like a 4 year old. 🙂 But what I also learned was it was okay. I enjoyed painting. I enjoyed creating. I did not have to be perfect and something beautiful could be created. Some days, my art resembles Picasso; other days, it looks like my preschooler painted it, but art allows me to escape, create, and be okay with the imperfections of life. Whether it is painting, drawing, or coloring in a coloring book; let yourself create without judgment and be free to let the art heal you.

By Melissa Meier, Auditor

How do you use creativity as a way to explore and relate to your feelings? We would love to hear from you! Please share your stories and wisdom in the comments!


Rob Bergeson- Youth Care Coordination Team Advocate

Please put away the smart phone and light up the grill; a recipe for co-worker camaraderie and conversation can be a perennial event throughout the year.

Here at APC our grill has become an ingredient for our health, fundraisers, celebrations, and the overall need to gather. People open their outside doors and windows to let the smell of charcoal permeate throughout the office atmosphere.  For real that actually happens, and they ask what is being grilled and when will it be done.

Bratwurst, hot dogs, chicken, tenderloin, or whatever the request is, our agency tries to keep within foundation of grilling experiences of all.  Folding chairs, easily folded tables, and dishes to pass are the steps of team assembly and accomplishment to support a pleasant outdoor office experience.

Too much frequency can spoil the experience and too little can sometimes be too late.  I like to offer up the experience whenever asked as that implies interest and need.  Create a team for each event and involve members from within and outside the agency to assist with the planning.

We are on our second charcoal grill here at APC– I lost all the flavor of the prior, however I have recycled the original and use it strictly for ribs.  The grill is loyal, dependable, and patiently awaits to fulfill purpose and pleasure.  I am now hungry for a flavor of smoke and outdoors.

Feel free to share stories, experiences, laughter, and above all great food at the Agency Grill.

-Rob Bergeson, Youth Care Coordination Team Advocate

What is your favorite food event so far at APC? What kind of fun food events would you like to see in the future? Please share in the comments!