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August 2023 Masada Homes’ Newsletter

It was an eventful August 2023, and we have quite a few Masada updates to share. Keep reading to get the latest Masada Homes’ news!

🚀 Leadership Update

mike heaton

We’re thrilled to share some exciting news with you all. Join us in celebrating the well-deserved promotion of Mike Heaton! After his dedicated service since 2013, Mike has now taken on the esteemed role of Director of Occupational Therapy and Workforce Development.

Mike’s journey within the agency has been nothing short of inspiring. He commenced his tenure as an Occupational Therapist and, through his unwavering commitment, progressed to the position of Occupational Therapy Manager in February 2022.

Today, we proudly see him step into the role of Director. In his new capacity, Mike will be working closely with our Directors and spearheading the development of a comprehensive onboarding process. This initiative aims to familiarize all team members with the vast array of agency resources, including those integral to our student internship program.

We are enthusiastic about witnessing Mike’s expertise in action as he cultivates a culture of excellence among our staff. With his guidance, we are confident in fostering a team that is not only aligned with the Masada mission and vision but also dedicated to creating a thriving student intern program.

As Mike embarks on this exciting journey, we encourage you to extend your wholehearted support. Your encouragement and collaboration will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in his success.

✨ FY 22-23 Highlights

fy 22-23 highlights
As the fiscal year comes to a close, we reflect on the milestones, challenges, and successes that have defined Masada’s journey.
community based services

2022-23: A Year of Progress in SA 6, 7 & 8 Outpatient Services

In this Year in Review, we celebrate the strides made by our Outpatient Program. Notable achievements include the establishment of a revitalized play therapy room in Gardena, fostering an enriching environment. We proudly announce the licensure of dedicated individuals: Kristina Komori, Magda Saadalla, Gladis Rendon, and Cynthia Aguilar.

A pivotal move saw us settling into a new location in Lynwood, which we now share with the WRAP program. Our collaborative address is 3680 E Imperial Hwy Suite 320 Lynwood, CA 90262. Recognizing excellence, Nelly Gutierrez’s transition from Support Specialist to Case Manager and Patty Meldendrez’s advancement from Outpatient Clinician to QI Clinician highlight the professional growth within our team.

Committed to success, our staff wholeheartedly embraced the incentive program, resulting in commendable productivity. A spirit of unity prevailed as Outpatient supervisors and staff extended support to other programs: supervisors contributed to TBS and Wrap Around Staff supervision, and Case Managers aided WRAP CFS cases.

Excitingly, we welcomed our first Graduate Student Interns, Megan Castro and Angelica Rodriguez, to the Outpatient Program. Their presence promises fresh perspectives and energy for the year ahead. As we reflect on the milestones of 2022-23, we are inspired by the dedication and teamwork that continue to define our Outpatient journey.

Year in Review: Growth, Resilience, and Community Engagement in Lancaster & Rancho OP Programs 22-23

In the fiscal year 22-23, OP programs at Rancho Cucamonga and Lancaster experienced rapid growth and challenges. Despite agency changes and the introduction of the Access to Care regulation which required adjustments in caseloads and service delivery, the teams showcased resilience and adaptability. A hallmark was the excellent understanding of community needs and steadfast commitment to DMH responsibilities. Collaboration between Rancho and Lancaster was consistent, fostering mutual growth. The majority of the staff met productivity standards, with supervisors playing a pivotal role in ensuring success.

This year, we welcomed numerous new members. In Lancaster, Gabriela Diaz and Rosa Cruz joined us, while Sonia Pena transitioned from the Wrap program. Ruth Fleming and Gio Itzel Calleja became part of our Lancaster CM team. At Rancho, Ronald Fernandes received his LPCC license, and we initiated an internship program, welcoming Donna Earl, an MFT student from Cal Poly Pomona. This partnership with universities enhances our community engagement.

Our vision is optimistic for the upcoming year, fueled by the hard work and dedication of every team member. We express our gratitude for the unwavering commitment and anticipate continued success.

wraparound services

Collaborative Achievements and New Beginnings: Wraparound Program Highlights

In the spirit of collaboration, Wraparound and FSP proudly introduced the inaugural “Positive Parenting Training,” showcasing our commitment to holistic family support. Exciting changes emerged as we settled into our shared Lynwood site with the Outpatient Program, marking a new chapter for the SA6 Wraparound Program.

Elevating our team’s capabilities, three of our esteemed Parent Partners, Blanca Toro, Samantha Zamora, and Monica Nunez, achieved their Peer Certification—a testament to their dedication and expertise. Welcoming fresh talents into our Wraparound family, Kimberly Bardales (CFS), Casey Estrada (CFS), Brenda Gonzalez (CFS), Yolanda Calderon (PP), Cindy Lopez (Tht), Aldo Martinez (PP), Yvonne Villa (Tht), Circe Von Haus (Clinical Sup), and Amanda Lilibeth Ceballos (PP) bring renewed energy and perspectives.

Celebrating milestones, we commend Ileane Lew and Migdalia Villafane for obtaining their licenses, while acknowledging the outstanding contributions of Kalan Robinson (Facilitator), Kimberly Rojas (Facilitator), Samantha Zamora (Parent Partner), and Eliana Jurado (CFS) for their unwavering dedication.

In the face of staffing challenges, our team’s unwavering dedication shines through. Throughout, we remain committed to delivering unwavering support and services to the families entrusted to the Wraparound Program. As we forge ahead, we embrace the spirit of resilience and collaboration that defines our Wraparound journey.

Coming Together to Celebrate

In the spirit of commemorating Mental Health Awareness Month, celebrating Cinco de Mayo, honoring Mother’s Day, marking the end of a productive fiscal year, and simply savoring each other’s camaraderie, the Wraparound teams from SA6, SA7, and SA8 came together for a vibrant event. The overarching theme? Self-care.

The heart of the event was a delightful “pinata” filled not with sweets, but with self-care essentials, adding a touch of whimsy and self-love to the festivities. A colossal Jenga game added an element of friendly competition, as towering blocks were skillfully maneuvered, testing both strategy and nerve.

We hope you enjoy this visual journey of celebration, camaraderie, and self-discovery.

wraparound team
full service partnership

FSP Teams Spotlight – Gardena and Norwalk Edition

We’re excited to share the latest achievements from our vibrant communities.

Welcoming New Team Members – Let’s start by extending a warm welcome to our newest team members: Erika Sanchez, Tricia Williams, Rosa Hurta, Miquawn Wright, and Joann Bonilla. Your presence enriches our teams and adds to our collective strength.

Empowering Families with “Positive Parenting Training” – In Gardena, a powerful collaboration between Wraparound and FSP is making a significant impact on families through “Positive Parenting Training.” This partnership is helping families discover effective parenting strategies that empower both parents and children.

Fostering Connections – Building connections is at the heart of our communities. Both Gardena and Norwalk recently came together for the 1st Retreat and a Half Day Retreat, creating spaces where meaningful connections can flourish.

half day retreat photo collage

Incentive Excellence – A round of applause for our Adult FSP members, who have earned an impressive 18k in incentive dollars. Your dedication and hard work are truly commendable.

Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month – May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and our teams celebrated in style at Topgolf. The event not only raised awareness but also highlighted the importance of enjoying life and having fun together. A Dodger Game outing further showcased our team spirit.

topgolf photo collage

Investing in Training – Knowledge is power, and our therapists have been actively enhancing their skills. They recently received training in ICBT (Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and Seeking Safety training benefited the entire teams.

Promoting Wellness with Social Skills and Yoga Groups – Both Gardena and Norwalk have launched Social Skills and Yoga groups, recognizing the importance of holistic well-being.

Embracing the Halloween Spirit – The spooky season came alive in both Gardena and Norwalk during the “31 Days of Halloween.” Our clinics were transformed into festive wonderlands, bringing joy to all.

Giving Back to the Community – Collaboration between FSP Children and Adult FSP teams resulted in a heartwarming Fall Hot Food Giveaway. Warmth and nourishment were provided to those in need, embodying the spirit of giving.

Spreading Holiday Cheer – During the festive season, FSP Children organized touching Holiday Toy Drives, ensuring that the holiday spirit reached every corner of our community.

Fostering Unity with a Client Cookout – Unity and connection were at the forefront as FSP Adult Teams from both communities organized a memorable Client Cookout at Norwalk Park. This event exemplified the power of coming together.

Empowering with Technology – Our teams are now equipped with the latest technological upgrades, including laptops and hotspots. These tools empower us to serve our community even more effectively.

In Gardena and Norwalk, our FSP teams are not just providing services; they are building communities, fostering connections, and making a profound impact on the lives of those we serve. We look forward to more achievements and successes as we continue this incredible journey together.

Exploring Nature and Building Bonds: FSP Youth Social Skills Group

In an endeavor to foster growth, connection, and resilience among the young members of our community, the FSP Youth Social Skills Group embarked on an exciting adventure. Utilizing the Masada van, we gathered three spirited teenage girls for a memorable hiking excursion at Eaton Canyon.

Against the backdrop of nature’s beauty, these young adventurers engaged in heart-to-heart conversations. They delved into topics that truly matter – their coping strategies, the sources of strength on challenging days, and the aspirations that fuel their journeys. This candid exchange was a profound testament to their willingness to support and uplift one another.

During this invigorating hike, sandwiches and ample water refreshed their spirits and energized their bodies. Yet, the true magic lay in the connections forged along the trail. These remarkable young individuals not only strengthened their bond but also took the initiative to exchange contact information, cementing a foundation of ongoing support.

In addition to connecting with their peers, this hiking experience allowed them to form a unique connection with nature. Two of our dedicated team members served as facilitators, guiding the group on a journey of discovery and appreciation for the natural world.

This outing transcended the ordinary and became a transformative experience. It was a day of laughter, shared insights, and newfound connections – a testament to the power of human connection and the beauty of the world around us. In every step they took, they not only hiked through nature but also embarked on a journey of self-discovery and camaraderie that will continue to enrich their lives.

Summer Adventures in Social Skills

Our young adventurers, aged 8-12, embarked on an exciting summer journey as they came together for our Social Skills Group. With boundless enthusiasm, six of our young participants gathered at Masada and hopped on our trusty van for a memorable trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Upon arrival, they paired up, each duo responsible for introducing the rest of the group to different facets of the ocean’s wonders. This interactive learning experience not only sparked curiosity but also ignited conversations about the diverse marine life. It was heartening to see how these young minds engaged with one another.

One shining moment was when one of our kids noticed that a peer seemed a bit more energetic than usual. Without hesitation, he reached out and inquired about the coping skills his friend used to navigate the situation. This simple act of empathy and support showcased the bonds formed within the group.

As they strolled through the aquarium, their discussions ranged from personal preferences of sea creatures to the sheer joy of the opportunity itself. They gracefully took turns, shared food, and, in doing so, learned more about each other. This outing provided a wonderful chance for these young minds to connect during the summer break.

A heartwarming surprise came in the form of a donation from two of our dedicated Masada staff members, Cheyla and Lucy. This generous gift allowed our young participants to put their budgeting skills into practice. With a budget of $10 or less, each child had the chance to choose their own plush toy or a small item of their liking. It was a valuable lesson in making choices and managing resources.

Adding to the sense of community, two members from our Child and Young Adult Team stepped in as facilitators, guiding these young explorers through their summer adventure. Their presence added depth to the experience and ensured a safe and supportive environment for growth.

As we reflect on these heartwarming summer moments, it’s evident that our Social Skills Group not only fosters learning but also nurtures connections and empathy among our young participants. We look forward to more such enriching adventures in the future, building a brighter and more compassionate community, one experience at a time.

therapeutic behavioral services

TBS 2022-2023 Fiscal Year in Review

July 1st, 2022 marked our independence from Clinitrak. Stability of the new electronic health record system named Care Logic was accomplished with the help from QI, our extensive network support of supervisors, and from the diligent work of our line staff that instead of rebelling, developed a united front. Locally in TBS, the start of the 2022 fiscal year brought in new talent to the program. For the first time since prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, TBS hired two (2) new TBS Specialists.

As the calendar year continued into the first quarter, and in conjunction with QI, some TBS Specialists were authorized to self-countersign progress notes. Upholding Masada’s focus that every staff have their own strengths and contribute to a team. Furthermore, TBS expanded our services by working closer with Masada in-house programs. TBS extended our invitation and received referrals from not only Outpatient programs, but also from Wraparound and Full- Service Partnership programs without limiting service areas. The TBS team player approach was in full display in the Rancho Cucamonga office. Three (3) separate TBS Specialists assisting mental health services by taking Parent Partner, Targeted Case Management, and Individual rehabilitation cases. In fact, TBS is still assisting MHS in the new fiscal year.

The calendar year brought much joy during the holidays. TBS had another successful Holiday Toy Drive that was sponsored by New Century Health (4th consecutive year). Thank you to the secret elves that wrapped and delivered about 70 gifts to our clients all throughout Los Angeles County, from Lancaster to Long Beach.

As the fiscal year arrived, TBS once again met program budget obligations. TBS will continue our team approach by working with other in-house programs, plan to hire another TBS Specialist in Gardena, and welcome a new TBS Supervisor.

occupational therapy

This past year has been an exciting one for Masada’s Occupational Therapy Department. Occupational therapists help people of all ages to participate as fully as possible in the activities which make their lives meaningful, using fun activities (crafts, games, woodworking etc.) as the therapeutic medium.

This year we welcomed our first Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Jessica Torres to the team. She has been working alongside Lillian Garcia, OTD with the Norwalk adult clients to improve their quality of life. Jessica has been running a successful and well attended social skills group. Our adult team has also begun working with clients as soon as they are enrolled by performing ‘meet and greets’ where they have been able to introduce themselves and what the role of Occupational Therapy is on the treatment team.
The OT team has extended its ability to assist our communities by beginning to work with clients at the Lancaster and Rancho Cucamonga offices with the hope of having a full time OT working out of each office within the next year. Additionally the OT department has begun setting up sensory rooms or sensory carts in each of the Masada offices to provide an easy way to introduce clients to the benefits of engaging all the senses.

In other exciting news the department was also able to promote OT Pam Tschumi to the position of OT supervisor.

quality insurance & quality assurance

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, Masada’s QI/QA Team has been diligently working behind the scenes to provide our dedicated staff with the resources and support they need to thrive in this dynamic environment. Here’s a snapshot of our recent endeavors:

Navigating Change with CalAIM and Payment Reform – The implementation of CalAIM and Payment Reform brought forth significant changes in the healthcare arena. Recognizing the importance of supporting our staff during this transition, we’ve provided additional support to ensure a smooth adjustment to these new protocols.

Empowering Our Team with Training – Knowledge is power, and we’re committed to empowering our team members. To that end, we’ve conducted comprehensive training sessions:

  • We trained a total of 68 staff members which include new hires, transfers, and refreshers.
  • We’re proud to announce that 25 staff members have achieved EBP certification across various EBP’s such as TF-CBT, IPT, MAP, Seeking Safety, and CBT.

Maximizing Efficiency with CareLogic – Our commitment to providing the best care possible extends to our administrative processes. To reduce the administrative burden and maximize the functionalities of our Electronic Health Record (EHR), we’ve implemented CareLogic Phase 2-3.

Streamlining Medi-Cal Recertifications – Ensuring our patients have access to the care they need is of utmost importance. We’ve successfully completed Medi-Cal Recertifications for Lynwood and Lancaster, ensuring continued support for those we serve.

Expanding and Enhancing the QI/QA Department – Our commitment to quality extends to our internal processes. We’ve expanded our Quality Improvement and Quality Assurance (QI/QA) department with key roles:

  • Iva Svetlikova, LMFT – Chief Quality & Compliance Officer: Leading the charge in ensuring our services meet the highest quality and compliance standards.
  • Guadalupe Ceballos, LMFT – Manager of Quality Assurance & Training: Focused on enhancing the skills and capabilities of our team.
  • Cheyla Bellamy, LMFT – Manager of Program Support Services: Supporting our programs to deliver the best possible care.
  • Khai Nguyen, LMFT – Director of Information Systems & Analytics: Leveraging data to drive informed decision-making.

Along with welcoming new QI/QA Clinicians Patty Melendrez, AMFT and Josette Rosas, LCSW.

Improving Communication with QI/QA Committee – Effective communication is vital. To enhance collaboration with the Administrative Services Department, we’ve initiated a QI/QA committee to streamline communication channels and drive continuous improvement.

These achievements are a testament to our dedication to excellence and our unwavering commitment to providing the best possible care to those we serve. We’re excited about the journey ahead and look forward to continuing our mission of making a positive impact on our community’s health and well-being.

🍉 July Raffle Winners

july raffle winners
We held our July Virtual Raffle on Friday, 8/18 to celebrate our hardworking staff. Congrats to our 10 lucky raffle winners!

🌞 August Raffle Invite

august raffle invite
Masada would like to cordially invite all staff to our August Virtual Raffle on Friday, 9/18 at 12:00PM

📸 Masada's Summer Fun Photo Contest

summer fun photo contest

Remember to submit your favorite summer photo to Newsletter@masadahomes.org by September 15th.

You may include a caption if you wish. Photos will be presented in the October newsletter, and readers can vote for their favorite pic! Contest winners will receive an Amazon gift card.

🍎 Back to School

Back to School

Embrace the Back to School Season: A Fresh Start for All Ages!

As summer winds down, the back-to-school season is upon us once more. It’s not just a time for kids to head back to class, but a chance for everyone to embark on new beginnings.

For the young scholars, the excitement of a new school year is palpable. With backpacks loaded and pencils sharpened, they’re ready to dive into the world of learning, friendship, and growth. Parents and mentors, your guidance is crucial as they navigate challenges and expand their horizons.

But let’s not forget the adults. Whether you’re pursuing higher education, learning new skills, or exploring passions, the back-to-school season has something for you too. Lifelong learning is a journey without age limits, and this is the perfect moment to embrace it.

To parents juggling their own education and family needs, remember that your pursuit of knowledge is a powerful example for your children. Balancing both roles may be challenging, but it’s a testament to determination and personal growth.

Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

1. Set Clear Goals: Define your aspirations for the coming months, whether academically, professionally, or personally.

2. Stay Organized: Utilize planners or digital tools to keep track of assignments, deadlines, and important dates.

3. Embrace Change: New subjects and experiences offer fresh perspectives. Embrace them as opportunities for growth.

4. Stay Curious: Explore beyond the curriculum. Engage in discussions and seek out new knowledge.

5. Self-Care Matters: Prioritize your well-being with adequate rest, exercise, and relaxation.

6. Lean on Support: Whether from friends, family, or classmates, a support network is invaluable on your educational journey.

Whether you’re a kindergartener with a big backpack, a college student pursuing your passions, or an adult embracing new challenges, the back-to-school season is a reminder that growth is timeless.

Let’s celebrate this fresh start together and relish the excitement of learning. Wishing you a wonderful back-to-school season filled with discovery and endless possibilities!

🗓️ Labor Day

happy labor day

Labor Day 2023: Honoring Hard Work, Dedication, and Mental Health Advocacy

September is approaching, and with it comes a day of great importance – Labor Day! On the first Monday of the month, communities nationwide gather to honor the contributions of workers who have shaped our society. Beyond the festivities, Labor Day reminds us of the relentless spirit of hard work, dedication, and the crucial role of mental health advocates.

Saluting the Workforce: As September 4th approaches this year, we recognize the dedication of individuals across sectors. From city streets to rural landscapes, the labor force forms the backbone of our communities, driving growth and prosperity.

Past and Present: Labor Day’s roots trace back to the late 19th century labor movement, a tribute to the struggle for fair conditions. It’s a reminder to value past efforts and continue striving for a just future.

Embracing Change: Recent years have brought transformative changes to work, from technology to remote setups. This Labor Day, we applaud the adaptability of the workforce.

Unity in Celebration: Labor Day brings parades, gatherings, and reflection. It’s a day to cherish achievements made through collaboration.

Gratitude for Mental Health Advocates: Let’s extend thanks not only to contributors across fields, but also to unsung heroes in mental health. Their dedication guides others toward well-being.

This Labor Day, let’s honor hard work, unity, and progress. As we celebrate and reflect, let’s be inspired to create a better tomorrow.

woman working on a laptop

Open Positions at Masada

Below are the open positions we have at Masada Homes. If you know of someone who is a great fit be sure to let us know!

A referral bonus of $250 will be provided to any current employee who refers someone that gets hired by Masada.

Hawaiian Gardens Office:

  • Full-Time Community Therapist

Rancho Cucamonga Office:

  • Full-Time Occupational Therapist
  • Full-Time Parent Partner

Norwalk Office:

  • Full-Time Full Service Partnership (FSP) Adult Case Manager

Bellflower Office:

  • Full-Time Child and Family Specialist/Rehab Specialist (Bellflower/Gardena)
  • Full-Time Wraparound Parent Partner

Gardena Office:

  • Full-Time IT Manager (Hybrid)
  • Full-Time Contract Manager (Hybrid)
  • Full-Time Full-Service Partnership (FSP) Parent Partner
  • Full-Tme Full-Service Partnership Therapist – Child
  • Full-Time Community Therapist
  • Full-Time Wraparound Facilitator/Care Coordinator
  • Full-Time Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT)/Intake Assessor
  • Full-Time Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS) Specialist
  • Full-Time Executive Assistant
  • Full-Time Wraparound Parent Partner

Lynwood Office:

  • Full-Time Wraparound Therapist
  • Full-Time Parent Partner 
  • Full-Time Community Therapist

Lancaster Office:

  • Full-Time Wraparound Parent Partner
  • Full-Time Wraparound Team Supervisor
  • Full-Time IFCCS Child and Family Specialist/Rehab Specialist
  • Full-Time Occupational Therapist

Los Angeles Office:
No open positions at this time

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