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Oaklawn  Oaklawn is the community mental health center for Elkhart and St. Joseph counties in northern Indiana. Hope. Healing. Wholeness


Wanna get involved? Here’s how Sydney is by working at Oaklawn! Check out open positions at oaklawn.org/jobs http://bit.ly/2ltlJiO

Welcome to Oaklawn’s first #MotivationMonday! This will be an occasional feature of Oaklawn clients who want to share their stories to encourage others.

It’s time for another #TribeTuesday! Meet Kandi Samuels, who works in our HR department in Goshen. You may not be able to recognize her in her picture with the River Bend Chorus (they wear A LOT of makeup, she explained), but she’s on the far left, second row on the top. Kandi is the Baritone Section Leader for the barbershop group, based in South Bend. She’s been performing in groups belonging to Sweet Adelines International since 1993. “I went to the first rehearsal and was hooked,” Kandi said. “I enjoy singing and learning how to be a better barbershopper, the sequins, performing and just stepping outside of the comfort zone … You have a friend almost everywhere you travel. Once a Sweet Adeline, always a Sweet Adeline.” Check out the River Bend Chorus at last year’s competition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O3_nVpYnGU. Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/riverbendchorus.org/.

This #TribeTuesday, we want to introduce you to Jess Hohulin, team leader for Oaklawn Foster and Adoption Resources. Jess’ first career was music. She studied opera in college and taught music in Hong Kong. She was even offered a position with the Hong Kong Opera. She turned it down to come back to the States, where she worked various positions before landing an admin assistant job at Oaklawn three years ago. Since then, she transferred to our foster care program, and was promoted to team leader. “In the last three years, I feel like I went from not knowing what my calling was to finding it and finding so much purpose in what I do here.”

It’s #TribeTuesday! Meet Tawna Bair, a child and adolescent skills training specialist at Oaklawn’s Elkhart campus. She could probably bench press you. Seriously — she does competitive powerlifting and trains up to four times per week at Strength Haven in Elkhart. Her PR (personal record) is 350 pounds in squat and deadlift and 200 in bench press. “I’m a very competitive person,” Tawna said. She’s also passionate about her work. She studied criminal justice in college, but felt she could make a greater impact by working with youth. “That’s where the biggest need is,” she said. “If we can intervene early, we can prevent a lot of the problems society has right now.”

Brandy Burt knew from the age of 17 that she wanted to work at Oaklawn. She was taking a Health Occupations class at the Career Center when someone from Oaklawn came to speak about the organization’s mission and career options. “While he was talking, I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do,” Brandy recalls. It was two more years before she finished high school, received her CNA and applied to work as a resident assistant at Oaklawn’s Supervised Group Living facility. She’s held many positions over the years — she’s now an outpatient nurse at our Goshen campus — and has loved every one. And she’s not done yet. Brandy is going back to school to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and plans to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Brandy is one of 900 Oaklawn employees who believe their work isn’t just a job, but a mission. Thanks, Brandy! #TribeTuesday

Aslisia Rodgers — or Ms. Rodgers as she’s known to most — is coordinator of admissions at Oaklawn, The Children’s Campus in Mishawaka. Connecting youth with intensive services is a job she takes seriously, but there are some interesting things about Ms. Rodgers you might not know. For example, she teaches dance and mime at her church. She’s also a living organ donor, having donated a kidney to her brother. Sadly, he passed away, but now twice a year, she and her family serve a meal at Hope Ministries in downtown South Bend in his memory. Ms. Rodgers is one of 900 Oaklawn employees who work incredibly hard, but also find time to have fun and do good. Thanks, Ms. Rodgers! #TribeTuesday

Derek Bontreger is an administrative assistant at our Elkhart campus, but you may have seen him on stage — or even the silver screen. Derek began acting in high school and continued into college and community theatre. He was even a “featured extra” in the movie “Elsewhere” starring Anna Kendrick (he's standing just behind Paul Wesley in the picture at bottom left). Derek is one of 900 employees whose talents and passions enrich our community. Thanks, Derek! #TribeTuesday

LaChelle Barnett is an addictions therapist and DCS liaison at Oaklawn, but she’s also the co-founder and CEO of Fathers First, a local non-profit that encourages father engagement. Fathers First supports men in developing healthy relationships and re-establishing fathers as a vital, irreplaceable part of the family. They provide low-cost family events, educational classes and raise awareness. To learn more, visit www.fathersfirstgroup.com. LaChelle is one of the 900 Oaklawn employees working for a better future for our community. Thanks, LaChelle. #TribeTuesday

Dale Raber is one of our bilingual therapists. His languages? English and Pennsylvania Dutch, his native tongue. Dale oversees our services to the local Amish community, which includes an intensive outpatient program offering both group and individual therapy in Dutch. Oaklawn has collaborated with leaders in the Amish community for more than 20 years to provide culturally competent services. Those include three independently-operated group homes at our Goshen campus — staffed by trained Plain people — with professional clinical services provided by Oaklawn. Dale is one of the 900 employees who are privileged to join those in our community — from all walks of life — on the journey toward health and wholeness. Thanks, Dale! #TribeTuesday

Meet Amber Whetham. In addition to being a family resource specialist for Oaklawn’s Foster and Adoption Resources, she’s a wife and mother of two — one son who’s 1 and one son in heaven. After losing her son Drew when he was 77 days old, Amber founded a non-profit, Drew’s Gifts from Heaven, which sends cards and gifts to bereaved parents for holidays (Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) and special anniversaries. The group also hosts toy and blanket drives for Riley’s Hospital and blood drives. To learn more about Drew’s Gifts, or to discuss/nominate a bereaved parent, visit www.facebook.com/drewsgifts or email drewsgifts@yahoo.com. Amber is one of the 900 employees whose compassion and empathy make Oaklawn a healing place for our clients. Thanks, Amber! #TribeTuesday

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