Cinco de Mayo is traditionally observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. This year at St. Joseph’s in Saranac Lake, the date also provided the theme for the beginning of the Sanctuary certification process for our Inpatient services.
“The Sanctuary surveyors arrive at Inpatient on May 15,” explains UR/Funding Manager, and Sanctuary Core Team member, Mya Ramirez, who partnered with Senior Counselor, Casey Visicaro to plan a kick-off event to further generate excitement for this important evolution for our community. “Cinco de Mayo and the day the surveyors arrive are close and provided a fun focus to begin the process,” Mya says.
Importantly, both staff and residents took part in the festivities, which included Sanctuary Jeopardy, and creating hope stones (glass stones decorated with Sanctuary messages), all followed by a South of the Border-themed lunch.
As Casey shares, “The Sanctuary Fiesta was a true collaborative event by all of the St. Joseph’s Community. The residents truly shined that day, embracing the true mission of Sanctuary. To top it off, 15 residents showed off their skills with a “flash Mob” dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. During the rehearsals, contagious laughter and joy filled Fellowship Hall. Some residents stated, “I have never danced sober” “I feel great, I didn’t know I could do this” seeing the residents enjoy sober fun and creativity was motivation to make the residents a huge focus point of the Kick Off.”
As many CEO Weekly readers are aware, Sanctuary embraces seven Commitments which combine to reinforce a trauma-informed culture.
“Coincidentally, St. Joseph’s currently runs seven small groups,” shares Mya, “So the concept of having each group develop a creative expression of one of the Commitments developed.”
I am often impressed with the talent St. Joseph’s residents possess. We’ve enjoyed their work at talent shows, Spirituality gatherings, and even spontaneously. The Sanctuary performances, however, were remarkable and included skits, poetry, song, and an unusually powerful rap performance by Jerome L. who had arrived just the Friday before.
“Jerome’s groups had been working on one idea,” Mya says, “But when he was heard singing during the Sunday service, things changed! His voice is tremendous, and his group wanted to focus on his talent.”
The resulting rap, explaining the Commitment of Democracy, fully engaged the audience to the point where many in the crowd joined in the chorus and offered a standing ovation.
You can hear his rap here:
“I began singing in church when I was five years old,” shares Jerome. “Then I performed throughout the community, studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. From there, I’ve traveled to Austria, Germany, Belgium and Italy to sing, and have performed in the Lion King in Hong Kong.”
Jerome also credits Benjamin S. for writing the second verse, and his fellow musicians on percussion (drums and cup!)
“I found the day to be particularly rewarding,” concludes Mya, “It was great to see staff and residents together just as people, not as addicts and those trying to help them. I wish we could do this every Friday!”
Casey adds, “This event could not have gone any better. To have a career which strives to enrich the lives of others through resilience and self-confidence is a true blessing. I am grateful and thankful for being part of a community which allows me to have fun with the residents I serve. I think I said I love my job about 1,000 times throughout the weeks of planning. Mya and her team were wonderful to work with, and I look forward to planning our future events.”