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Agency News

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Houston Furniture Bank- Making empty houses homes

April 6, 2017 was one of those California-weather-like days in Houston with a bright sky and breeze just right as a crowd gathered for the grand opening of the new home of the Houston Furniture Bank, a long-time partner of The Harris Center. The large new building contains an entire warehouse of furniture, a mattress recycling area, a retail outlet and the big hearts of the Houston Furniture Bank employees.

 

Getting to this point was no small feat. Two and a half decades of hard work, innovation and partnership have allowed the Houston Furniture Bank to serve families throughout Harris County, including quite a few consumers of The Harris Center.

 

The connection between the Houston Furniture Bank and The Harris Center goes back to 1992 when a housing support employee at The Harris Center, then the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA) of Harris County, saw a void in consumers’ residences. There were no beds, tables, chairs, sofas or other signs that they were actually homes. That employee, Oli Mohammed, had an idea. What if the Agency found donated furniture to turn these houses into homes? With the support of the Agency’s executive director, Dr. Steven Schnee, he began what became the MHMRA of Harris County Furniture Bank. “If Dr. Schnee didn’t see the virtue in this, the furniture bank wouldn’t exist,” said Mohammed.

 

 

Integrating behavioral and medical health care


When we think about our primary health, we don’t, at times, relate it to our behavioral health and vice-versa.  As Sylvia Muzquiz- Drummond, M.D., the Medical Director for Mental Health Services at The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, points out, it is important to recognize the connection between the two.


A day in the life of Sh’clara Smith, a Gessner Day Program participant

 

It is early morning, and stepping out of the Metro bus is Sh’Clara Smith. She makes her way to the front doors of The Harris Center’s Gessner Day Program where she signs in and greets her friends ready to take on the day. As she sits, other participants gather around and they begin sharing what they did over the weekend.

The Crisis Line: Listening, caring, supporting

 

What makes a good listener? Common responses to this question include someone who is attentive, engaged, non-judgmental, helpful, knowledgeable and empathetic.

 

Meet Wayne Young, CEO of The Harris Center

Wayne Young, MBA, LPC, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer

 

Wayne Young currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center), the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority for Harris County.  As the CEO of the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, Mr. Young oversees the planning and delivery of behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services to over 88,000 people per year and manages an annual budget of over $270 million.

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