OHELâ€™s Retreat to Bushkill Inn Provides Inspiration and Renewal to those with Psychiatric Disabilities
This past week, OHELâ€™s Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) department went on their annual summer retreat, in the beautiful Bushkill Conference Center and Resort, in Pennsylvania. The three day retreat gave the individuals a chance to relax in an informal atmosphere, where individuals can socialize with one another and with the staff.
Over 100 clients and staff went on the trip, all of whom live in an OHEL residence or in OHELâ€™s supported housing and apartment programs. Amongst the participants were three married couples from OHELâ€™s supporting housing program.
There was incredible programming throughout the week, which included sports, swimming, games, activities, as well as a group hike through the beautiful scenic trails of Bushkill Falls. Delicious meals were served each day, and the clients appreciated the chance to stay at a hotel, which they do not get to experience very often.
Each night had its own theme, which let individuals dress up and express their creativity. There was a Hawaiian night, a cowboy night, and even a magical night, complete with a strolling magician who engaged and performed for each participant in small, personal groups.
A guest at the hotel who crossed paths with the OHEL group was so impressed that after commenting on how organized and happy the group was, she asked â€śWhy there is so much staff on this trip?â€ť It was explained to her that adults with mental illness are just like any other adults, and in fact there was not much staff on this trip, that many of the adults she met in fact had a mental illness. Through its supported housing program, OHEL is able to provide these adults with the opportunities and resources to enjoy and experience life, and integrate into the community while minimizing stigma.
â€śI have worked at OHEL for over 14 years and never have I experienced anything more meaningful than what I experienced these past few daysâ€ť said Farah, who works in OHELâ€™s Development Department. She continued â€śI was able to have such a close connection with so many of the clients which I never experienced before and it had such a great effect on me.â€ť
A special donor and longtime friend from NJ who wishes to remain anonymous joined the trip with his wife for lunch. Â He was awed by the individuals and staff relationships and the caring for each other, the devotion of the staff, the full programming and the sense of satisfaction and desire to be part of the community that he witnessed when spending the afternoon on this trip.Â
Jonathon, a client who was on the trip, was heard excitedly saying â€śThis was the second year in a row that I was able to complete the Red Trail hike! If I can survive the red trail hike, I can survive anything!â€ť
OHEL receives no government funds for this retreat, and it is fully funded by parents and community leaders who recognize the value of this retreat, in that it pushes individuals to go beyond their comfort zone, and enables them to meet others from similar programs. Additionally, many other community members were in the hotel and had a chance to see first-hand OHELâ€™s programs and community integration at its best. It also give the individuals a chance to enjoy a hotel vacation as we all do, even if just to rest and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
It was a fun and exciting day, and rejuvenating to be in the fresh country air. All of the participants are already looking forward to next yearâ€™s exciting trip!
Since 1969, OHEL Childrenâ€™s Home and Family Services has served as a dependable haven of individual and family support, helping people of all ages effectively manage disability, surmount everyday challenges, heal from trauma, and manage with strength and dignity during times of crises