Forty-five East House clients will take part in the two-week enrichment program on June 4-7 and June 11-14 at Rochester Institute of Technology.
This program is designed to encourage participants, who are recovering from mental health or substance use disorders, to pursue educational goals to achieve independence and self-sufficiency.
This program is named after James Papero, a long-time RIT Human Resources department staff member who served on the East House board for more than 22 years. Program organizers say the enrichment program was Papero’s idea, and its success is a testament to his life and legacy.
Participants attend a variety of classes including academic, art therapy and physical fitness classes taught by RIT and Monroe Community College staff and faculty, East House staff and professionals from a variety of community organizations. During the two weeks of the program, participants are also able to utilize RIT’s facilities including classrooms, computer labs, the library, the student life center and the gym.
Each component of the program mimics a college experience from applying for school, an orientation, course selection and registration, attending classes, eating lunch on campus, homework assignments and graduation.
At the end of the two weeks, students participate in a graduation ceremony and reception. This year’s event takes place at 4 p.m. June 14 in Ingle Auditorium in the RIT Student Alumni Union.
The graduation keynote speaker will be Yolonda Steward, admission counselor/community liaison at Monroe Community College. A native of Brooklyn, she earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts and science from MCC, then transferred to the State University College at Brockport where she earned a dual bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice, and later a master’s degree in public administration. Her career has included positions in academia at RIT, Genesee Community College and Finger Lakes Community College, always working with students to help them pursue their degrees. In her current position, she works with nontraditional/adult students who are starting or returning to college. Steward is also an entrepreneur, having owned or managed retail operations.
Since 1996, more than 700 students have benefited from this educational program series. Attendees have gone on to earn their TASC — Test Assessing Secondary Completion — a national high school equivalency assessment or enroll in local colleges.
East House is a private, nonprofit agency serving individuals with mental health and substance use disorders with the goal of empowering them to recover and to live healthy and fulfilling lives in their communities.
More than 1,500 clients benefit annually from East House services, which are provided by more than 175 employees. Since 1966, East House has been offering personalized care that meets each person’s needs while advocating for the better understanding and acceptance of mental health and substance use issues in the community. With multiple locations, East House continues to move lives forward each day.
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