Delta Peers, Antioch and The Peer Network of Contra Costa County – Constitution of Intent

The data collected for the Constitution of Intent (2021) was compiled during the The Service Provider Individualized Recovery Intensive Training (S.P.I.R.I.T) internship that I (Jo Bruno) did through Contra Costa College (CCC), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Consumer Empowerment (OCE). OCE is a department within our Behavioral Health Department.

Already working with the Council on Homelessness (H3), which is a division of the Health Services, I wanted to build a bridge between the two departments in order to capture the lived-experience of homelessness. Strengthening the partnerships already in the Delta Peers network, I conducted outreach by holding community meetings, gathering input from, so far, 26 people. Of those community partners were OCE staff, S.P.I.R.I.T students and alumni, Delta Peers members, Health Leads Housing is Health committee, community members, and county/social workers.

 AIMCOMMUNITY COMMITMENT
    Inform & Educate
Support for further education:

CEUs

Train the trainer

Cross-Sectional Training (H3/OCE)

Parent/partners know their roles

Peer to department

Peer-Ran Orgs to departments

Provide more access to peer trainings, policy making, advocacy teams, information sessions etc.
 

Create jobs specifically around facilitating peer trainings to develop advocates who can help others using the system (DP peer navigation)  


Peer partners build trust between system and community
  Consult, Listen & Relate
Streamline relatable data:

Message of hope and recovery

Promote racial equity 

Show problem

What can the community do?

How can community fix problem?
Validating lived-experience gives them democratic authority as a policy maker, changing the system.

Guidance on how one can advocate for themselves while they’re in crisis or utilizing the system.

Peer liaison groups to discuss problems and solutions around BIPOC experiences.
    Include & Compensate
Provide incentives for completing programs:

Receive guidance toward skills development into relevant work.

Acknowledge economic inequalities for BIPOCBuild a peer foundation

Find a peer grant writer who has lived-experience

Develop skills already acquired by lived-experience and work history. Resume building/job placements.  

Opportunity to try different things with the support of other peers. The work you’re doing is being yourself.  

Understanding that creating job skills and acquiring a job may not work, so having guidance and support to other opportunities.

Meet them where they are.
  Build Community Partners
Cross Sector language:

Student becomes the teacher

Use peer model to educate others within system/CBOs.

Allow space for youth language, systematic language, etc.

No more alphabet soup dialog

Community mindset, peer coalition. Bringing value to the story of the lived-experience.  

Groups of peers go to community members, sharing the current work in the meetings of the system.

Peer partners educate the community while the community gives the peer partner insight to bring back to the system meeting.
    Empower Self-Agency
Cross Sector Empowerment:

Peers hired in county positions

Clinicians/social workers need peer support, too.

Encourage peers to become community partners/advocates
UNITE community members with community partners who will connect with peer workers already in the system, which gives the opportunity to educate the system workers who don’t have peer knowledge.

Opportunity to explore emotions of trauma.

Find logical, cognitive understanding of the trauma and how it can change the work place.
  • INFORM and EDUCATE: Give facts, share information, and provide formative, quality principles (the fundamental truths of peer support and advocacy/advisory). The
  • S.P.I.R.I.T graduate holds training opportunities to talk about Peer Support in the work-place, becoming peer trainers for their co-workers, facilitating presentations, implementing peer support for the department.
  • CONSULT, LISTEN, and RELATE: Seeking advice from those with lived-experience, acknowledging that the racial equity perspective is essential; the story-telling aspect. It’s probably the most important part of this entire framework. We would capture the lived-experience perspective from each peer involved with each discussion, bringing it back to the department/committee for them to bring it to the board of supervisors.
  • INCLUDE and COMPENSATE: Practicing and providing equal access to become part of the whole system of care. When a peer, one with lived-experience, shares their story we compensate for their time. Compensation is on a needs-by-needs basis, meeting the peer where they are, recognizing the inequities of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color).
  • BUILDING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS and COLLABORATIONS: The process of working together to create something in agreement. Best practices while coordinating with others not already in the network. Community members are the partnerships we’re building.
  • EMPOWER SELF-AGENCY: Given the authority of one’s own livelihood. Allowing the process of self-awareness by strengthening their confidence in advocacy work and personal story-telling. Knowing and understanding how their lived-experience can influence the system, they build a sense of identity within their experience and crisis. It doesn’t determine who they are, but rather how they can use what’s happened to benefit their livelihoods.

UNHOUSED LENS: The unhoused community are met by peers who start the relationship with community members who are in crisis. This is building trust with the community member. The peer is the Community Partner, partnering with H3 (or other department/organization), who is doing the community outreach.

NEXT STEPS: Each category listed above will be further explored from community members. There will be ongoing Peer Network meetings through OCE, which will provide opportunities to share input to the constitution. At any time, a community member and/or county worker can suggest edits to raise awareness to other best practices not listed.

Contra Costa Peer Support Constitution of Intent

Proposed Pilot Program:

OCE (peer specialists) and Delta Peers (unhoused population)

Final draft last updated: 10.20.21 (edited by Jo: Next Steps)

Jo.Bruno.CMT@gmail.com

#CupOfJoBruno

Celebrating International Women’s Day, Loving my Wolf Pack, and Surviving PTSD

It’s International Women’s Day

So, it saddens me I am writing this! How do I write about destructive masculine energies on a day we are supposed to celebrate women? How do I write about the struggle I am experiencing when I encounter men who trigger something inside of me that awakens the reactionary survival attitude without sounding like a bitch?

Ah, fuck it! I’ma be a bitch

I am sick of constantly feeling that overwhelming tingling sensation of survival mode when a man speaks to me in a way that triggers abusive memories. PTSD is a son-of-a-bitch, and I’m a host for their family dysfunctions. Mental health, addiction, and sexual and childhood trauma are all associated with my automatic fight or flight reactions.

Most the time, I fight. I want to destroy whatever is harming me and my psyche. I want to end the stinging sensations penetrating my aura. I want to tap into that beautiful, bad bitch Wolf Pack that scurries in my Spiritual Planes. I want to create a bloody carnage of the evil that lurks.

I want to hunt it down, destroy it, and devour it. I want to feel the flesh of this evil in my teeth and its warm life source drip from my lips. The smell. The taste. The satisfaction it would bring.

Oh wait?! There she is

That super bad bitch who’s seen and done some shit

She reminds me to simmer the fuck down! Take a moment. Calm the flame that burns. I can whine, whimper, growl, and even snap my Wolf teeth at this negative energy source. But, I cannot physically harm another.

I cannot physically harm another

She’s strong. My Higher Self. My Higher Power. She sits, resting under an orange tree, next to that bad bitch Wolf Pack Leader. They’re companions. She pets my Wolf Spirit. Strokes Her ego. Grooms Her fur. Studies Her hunting patterns. Watches over Her young.

I felt the rage of wanting to destroy the very thing that was trying to destroy us. It tries to destroy all women. Except this time, I could stand strong in my Queendom. I protected myself without creating carnage. I destroyed the energy force that seemed stronger than me before. I overcame the triggers and used the PTSD body memories to strengthen my life purpose. Something’s changed!

It can stab, slash, poke, cut, prod, and sting my very existence, but my Power within isn’t afraid of it anymore. The darkness doesn’t consume me, it guides me. The Wolf Pack doesn’t destroy, it protects. The triggers don’t control me, they strengthen me. The memories take me back, but the bitch brings me forward.

It’s International Women’s Day

Today, All Women move forward

So Mote It Be!

#CupOfJoBruno

Moving on!

Peer Support Specialist

What is a peer support specialist? How is one considered a peer? Does the trauma need to be the same? Does the healing need to be the same? Does any of it truly need to be the same for it to be considered peer support? There’s a sense of understanding when one considers themselves a peer. There’s a sense of validation, compassion, and empathy. There’s an unspoken trust between people who are healing from trauma and those who identify as their peer. It’s lived experience that makes us peers.

Healing through the trauma I experienced was never met with peer support. Nobody identified with me or validated my feelings through my journey of self-awareness, self-healing, and self-expression. I didn’t have peer support. I started, struggled with, and finished the healing process by myself. It’s given me strength in my adult life. It’s powerful to identify the healing that’s come from my trauma; it’s empowering really. Because of that, I consider myself a peer. I consider myself a specialist.

Being a peer specialist doesn’t necessarily mean we are the same age, have the same ethnic background, or even the same sexual preference, political views, or religious practices. What it means to me is that I have experienced and healed from situations in my life that caused mental illnesses, which eventually turned into physical illnesses. When I say I am a peer specialist, it doesn’t mean I have a certificate either. What it means is that I have visited the darkest caverns of my soul and I shinned a light in them.

I had to work on motivating myself out of depression hundreds of times. I held myself as I cried myself to sleep. I caused physical harm to myself to release the sense of uncontrollable anger I felt. I resorted to over eating, cutting, suicide attempts, and prostitution just to feel something. Therefore, when I consider myself a peer support specialist, I am telling myself that I have identified and accepted my childhood trauma. I am reminding myself that I have healed and overcame what others are experiencing or have experienced. I am now pursuing my dreams, accomplishing goals, and becoming the best person I can.

Writing The Wench’s Cocktale: A Bay Area Memoir allowed me to express things I experienced. I was sexually traumatized at a very young age and it haunted me throughout my life. Of course, healing is a never-ending process, and I still have moments of negative thoughts, anxiety, depression, and the inability to accomplish things. I still struggle. But, that’s also what makes me a peer, right? A peer isn’t only someone who has healed their pain, it’s someone who is still healing.

As I heal, I am motivated to mentor our youth, I am passionate about women in the sex industry, and I am grateful to have the strength to uplift others who are struggling through their trauma. It’s what I love about being a peer specialist. It’s what I love about life. It’s what I love about myself.