Thank you to everyone that made our first Dennis Hobb Meet the Need Funds campaign a success. We exceeded our goal by collecting $5,047. Because the first $5,000 is matched than means a grand total of $10,047 for the Dennis Hobb Meet the Need Funds.

What does this mean for MCC clients?

It can mean life or death. During the start of the Covid19 quarantine sites were set up in local hotels to house patients that had nowhere else to go. Late one night, three days into his stay at one of these sites, a MCC client reached our on call staff member. This client had not received any care whatsoever since his arrival. Hotel staff were not even aware his room was occupied. He had no toiletries and was in the same soiled hospital gown he had been discharged in several days prior. MCC staff immediately provided medical care, clothing, hygiene products, healthy soup, liquids to rehydrate, and necessary medications that he had gone without.

The funds needed to pay on call staff, to buy clean clothes, toothpaste and shampoo and more – all of it was made possible by donors like YOU.  And it is why we created the Dennis Hobb Meet the Need Funds. So we can always find a way to say yes and continue to provide this level of dignified care to our clients. Just like Dennis always did.

This is only one example of the good your donation can do. Thank you.

Auld Lang Syne

We sing this every December 31st at midnight…well, at least those who can still stay up that late.  I think this song, nostalgic and wistful, fully embodies my feelings about retiring from the McClendon Center next week.  Auld Lang Syne is a tribute to longstanding relationships that endure, with the accumulation of many memories and good will.  We sing this at the end of one year and the beginning of the next as a way to remember who is important in our lives, along with the hope that our shared journey of love continues.

My work at the McClendon Center is not so much ending as it is culminating in retirement.  I’d like to think I’ve saved the best for last, and these past seventeen years have been the very best of my professional life.  I was given a chance to lead an agency providing services for some of the most vulnerable people in our city, and I am proud that so many people have benefited from what we do.  The journey isn’t over–it continues!  My role will change in that now I can be a supporter of the agency rather than its public face.

McClendon Center is in great hands.  Sheandinita Dyson has been with the McClendon Center since 2008, and as the Interim CEO knows the agency as well as I do She will shepherd the agency until a new President and CEO is selected, and the process of finding that person is well underway.  I can leave knowing that McClendon Center is in great hands, and that its best days are ahead of it.  The Center is blessed with a caring Board of Directors and a great management team.  It can’t help but have a bright future.

So let’s join in remembering the thousands we have served over many years, and drink a cup of kindness to them.  Not just at midnight, but every day of 2021 and beyond. 

Happy New Year!

Dennis Hobb

Executive Director McClendon Center

In many ways Tiombe is just like you and me. Her life was moving along and then a few challenges came up that created an imbalance. First, in 2015 her mom passed and before she had fully healed from her mother’s death she began a difficult divorce. We all handle and process stress differently and for Tiombe her stress manifested physically. It proved debilitating for her and quickly she found herself nearly immobile. Her 2018 diagnosis included stress induced catatonia. Tiombe found it difficult to walk on her own and became reliant on her son and daughter for nearly everything. Day to day living had become not only a mental struggle but a  physical struggle too.

Things began to turn around when she found the McClendon Center. In 2019 she began attending the Day Program and found new ways of handling her stress and managing her life. She just needed some caring people to trust in while she found her way. Slowly her physical strength grew as she began working with MCC counselors. She credits MCC staffer “Mr. Woody” with helping her with his kind and consistent guidance. Once she was strong enough she began painting with Tyler Strusowski in the art therapy sessions. She found a natural talent for creating and expressing herself through art. Her confidence grew as her art flourished, and life began to feel manageable again. She also began to think about the future which include aspirations of attending the University of Maryland’s art program one day.

In the early days of the pandemic Tiombe continued to create and keep in contact with her MCC support team. She also joined the online MCC art therapy sessions. Two of her pieces were part of our recent online art show and both sold! She was grateful for the extra money the art sale generated and said she planned on using it to buy Christmas dinner for her family. Interested in the art sale? Click here

Whatever Tiombe’s goals include MCC will be here for her, supporting and assisting her to improve the quality of her life to the fullest potential. Thank you to our donors who make this happen, we really couldn’t do it without you.

For 40 years we have been making a difference for those recovering from mental illness. Kindness and compassion are not billable services – but that doesn’t stop us from providing them. It is dedicated donors like you that bridge the financial gap and make what we do even more meaningful. Thank you!

Have you ever wondered where your donation goes when you give?

Like many other families this year the holidays at MCC will be different. Unable to have an in person celebration like in the past Operation Elves was launched.

Last week Aisha Shabazz rounded up her staff and got to work. Nearly all the Day Program staff came to the New York avenue location and assembled gift bags for clients.  Day Program staffer Rachelle Mosley took on the enormous task of purchasing all the materials for the gift bags. Deliveries to clients began Friday and will continue this week until every bag is distributed.

In the bags the items varied – with one exception: warm hats, gloves, and socks were on everyone’s list this year. Some found body wash, tooth paste and other toiletries in their bags, while others opened their gift to find colored pencils and a pad of paper. For many of our clients this is the only gift they’ll receive.  At least 90 clients will receive a gift bag – because of generous supporters like you. Thank you.

Additionally, Dennis sent out an email to all MCC staff two weeks ago with an attachment. It was a simple form- for any client in need. Staff could nominate a client by simply filling out the short one page form. The response was overwhelming as so many are in need.  The forms were collected and 150 Target and Walmart gift cards were purchased. Clients that are struggling this year can use the gift cards to buy food for Christmas dinner, a winter coat, or a toy for a deserving child. And again, this type of unexpected kindness is only possible because of our donors. Thank you for being part of this, your community, and the MCC family.

This year we are thankful we are still serving our clients despite Covid19 difficulties. We are thankful for our resourceful staff. And we are incredibly grateful to our donors that have stood by us this year.

Many of our clients are food insecure. As part of our virtual Day Program we always provide lunch delivery. However this year we made sure they were able to enjoy a special thanksgiving meal on Wednesday. Over lunch an important discussion began; was pumpkin or sweet potato pie was better? In the end, sweet potato came out the winner. If you are looking for ways to support MCC and important programs like this, we have included a few creative ideas below.

If you’re shopping virtually this year you may be visiting Amazon. Amazon Smile is a program where they give a small percentage to the charity of your choice. Simply sign up on Amazon and MCC will benefit! For details click here: Amazon Smile

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. If you’re going to give on Giving Tuesday consider giving locally – to MCC.   Whether it’s a large gift or small gift anything that’s meaningful to you is meaningful to us.

If a donation isn’t an option right now you can support us by joining us online on December 9th at 6:30 pm for a free virtual event. Click for more info and signup Art of Appreciation

Did you know the new CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act allows taxpayers to take a charitable deduction of up to $300 ($600 for married couples) for those who take the standard deduction? For those who do itemize their deductions, the new law allows for cash contributions to qualified charities such as McClendon Center to be deducted up to 100% of your adjusted gross income for the 2020 calendar year.

2020 is rapidly, and thankfully, coming to an end. I’m hopeful that 2021 will be a far better year for everyone than we have experienced during many of the last few months. In light of new beginnings, I want to share with you the news of my retirement. I will retire January 4, 2021. Coming to this decision was not easy. Being a part of McClendon Center for 17 years has been a terrific time in my life. I have been privileged to work with so many wonderful clients and staff members. I have seen positive changes in the lives of so many of our clients. As I’ve told the Board of Directors, I feel like I have been the luckiest of Executive Directors. However, it’s time to move on to the next phase of my life. As I make that transition, McClendon Center will be in Shean Dyson’s very capable hands. Shean was appointed by the Board of Directors as the Interim CEO of the McClendon Center, with all legal authority for the agency to be conveyed to her on January 4th. It is a relief to me that Shean has agreed to do this, and I have full confidence in her to shepherd the agency until the new President and CEO is in place in early 2021. Candidates for the permanent position are currently being reviewed, and interviews will likely begin just after the holidays. The Board of Directors expects someone to be in the position around April 1st next year.

Once the pandemic is under control, we will have some sort of celebration of our time together. However I encourage you to join us for the Art of Appreciation, a virtual event, on December 9th at 6:30 pm. It will be an uplifting night that will include an art therapy demo, games, and prizes. This free event is our way to say thank you to you- our supporters. You have stood by MCC and our clients and we want to show you our appreciation. More information and details can be found here Art of Appreciation

As many of you know once you’re part of the MCC family you’re always a part of the family. So I will continue to support MCC and I hope you will do the same. The mission to prepare those recovering from mental illness to improve their quality of life continues. I may be moving on but our clients will still need our care and support.

Hope to see you at the December event.

With much gratitude,

Dennis Hobb
Executive Director

As a thank you to everyone who has been supporting us throughout the year we are hosting the Art of Appreciation.  We would like to invite all our supporters to join us for a night of fun and games – couldn’t we all use that? There will be an interactive art therapy* demo lead by our art therapist Tyler Strusowski, a chance to win two JetBlue tickets to anywhere they fly, and the opportunity to purchase client art online – something we’ve never offered before. Join us December 9th at 6:30 pm. This is a free event, though we are suggesting a $40 donation in honor of our 40 years serving the District. Details and sign up is available online at mcclendoncenter.org

*What is Art Therapy? Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy where art is used as a communication tool. One way to understand this is to consider that we all experience internal imagery as thoughts, memories, the imagination, or sensations and impressions. The only way another person can peek inside someone’s head to see this internal imagery is if it is made into art. Art therapists assist their clients with understanding, interpreting, and exploring the meaning of the imagery communicated through the art created within the context of art therapy. The process of creating art is a multisensory experience. It involves the use of various parts of the brain, such as the visual and tactile systems, as well as brain areas involved with movement and problem-solving. Activating these various parts of the brain can reveal preverbal sensory information, which can come forth as stored unconscious information. Thus, art therapy can potentially bypass a client’s defense mechanisms in a way that is non-threatening broadening self-insight and understanding.

There have been some troubling trends in the news lately. Nationally from January to September 2020, there was a 62% increase on the number of depression screens over 2019 data. While rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are increasing for people of all races and ethnicities, there are notable differences in those changes over time. Black or African American screeners have had the highest average percent change over time for anxiety and depression. Over 85% of MCC clients are African American and we can see these national statistics bear out in DC.

At MCC we have seen a disturbing trend in client deaths this year. None are directly attributed to Covid19 – though one client, who was not tested for the virus, passed of “respiratory failure”, though he had no known history of respiratory problems. While we cannot pinpoint the increase in deaths to one cause or causes we know it mirrors nationwide statistics. There is a 30% increase in national death rates not attributed to Covid19. In DC, many of our clients have competing health issues and, fearful of the virus, have been less apt to seek medical care for those issues. For others the isolation caused by the pandemic exacerbates their condition. Last week we saw an increase in Major Unusual Incidents (MUI’s) at MCC. This is when a client needs immediate care for a crisis situation. Normally we would have one or two MUI’s per week. We can speculate on reasons, however, we do know one thing for certain – our services are more necessary now than they ever were.

As a follower of our work you know the unique kind of care we provide. We know our clients. We know more than just their names – we know their stories, their particular needs or individual likes and dislikes, and what works for them and what doesn’t. We see them as individuals, as real people, and that is what makes us who we are. Thank you for being a part of this and for your ongoing support! We hope to see you at the Art of Appreciation.

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