Newsletter and Annual Report

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View the LTP Winter 2015 Newsletter

View the TSI 2014 Annual Report

To view past Newsletters and Annual Reports visit our Information Archive.

PSH Program Video

TSI Dedicated EmployeesView a video of people served by TSI in the Permanent Supportive Housing Program. This pilot project begun in 06/2007 was developed as part of Allegheny County's Office of Behavioral Health plan for Housing As Home.

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Contributions to TSI

For more information on making a contribution to TSI, please contact:
Keisha Becoate • 412-461-1322 ext. 1249 or at: kbecoate@transitionalservices.org

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Transitional Services accepts online donations through PayPal. We appreciate your contribution.

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Our Vision

Transforming communities through the contributions of the people we serve.

Accreditation

CARF Accreditation

Transitional Servies, Inc. is accredted for the following programs:

  • Community Housing: Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Adults)
  • Supported Living: Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Adults)
  • Community Services: Community Housing
  • Community Services: Supported Living

Visit CARF for more information.

News and Events Archive

The Results Are In...And You Did It!

Thanks to the commitment and support of all of you, TSI was able to raise $56,485 in 2013 to support programs, services and operations. We presented opportunities for you to help, and you answered the call. Sincerest thanks to the Trees Foundation, who answered our special request to address Supported Living funding needs through their generous grant. We cannot thank you all enough.

Giving Totals

TSI's 2012 Annual Recognition Dinner

TSI Annual Recognition Awards

TSI’s recognition of staff is an anticipated event for many. It’s a time that we can mingle with staff from other departments and programs, or often times, meet staff for the first time face-to-face. Victoria Livingstone, who has served as CEO for 1 year, was impressed with staff who have reached 25- and 30-year milestones with the Agency. Sandy Norman (25 years of service) and Joyce Felton (30 years of service) both stated that TSI is a more than just a job. When you come to work, not only are you providing a service to individuals, but you are also amongst family, which makes TSI a special place to work.

Employees who were voted by their peers to have proven by their actions and dedication to carrying out TSI’s Mission and Vision, or upholding the Core Values and Guiding principles, were recognized with Above and Beyond awards. Laurie Elliott was awarded for the Core Value of Teamwork. She voluntarily agreed to work at another site to accommodate a staff who would not be able to walk stairs. She was also noted for bringing a positive attitude to her temporary location.

Joe Sieber was nominated for the Core Value of Customer Service. At an office which is maintained by another company, Joe repaired the heater located in the staff office after it was determined that the building maintenance would not be able to do so. He ensured the staff would be able to work in an office with heat rather than allow them to go without heat for an undetermined amount of time.

Two staff from the same program were nominated for their quick action in an emergency. Joyce Craddock and Dennis Herndon responded to a fire alarm in an individual’s apartment. Dennis noticed smoke coming from the apartment and quickly grabbed an extinguisher to keep the flames under control. Had it not been for his quick action, the damage could have been much worse. On her way home from a training, Joyce stopped at the office and noticed the building was evacuated. She remained at the site past her shift to keep persons served calm, assisting other service providers to meet with individuals and direct traffic.

Our intellectual disabilities (ID) programs are faced with significant financial hardships. Over the last year, staff who work within this program has had to endure the difficulties of operating under such budget constraints. One program in particular, intellectual disabilities supported living (IDSL), was operating not knowing whether or not the program would remain operational. Kelly Wilson is the supervisor for this program as well as a site-based ID program. Kelly was awarded for the Guiding Principle of Leading by Example. She took on a case of an individual in the community to ensure the program would not lose the much needed revenue while running both programs smoothly.

In the midst of all the financial uncertainty, the IDSL team (Shawn Glass, Myrla Myers, Joyce Snyder and Jill Stratton) did not skip a beat when it came to delivering above and beyond services to the people served, their families, ISCs and each other. The team gained six new admissions, not knowing how long the program would remain open. They remained positive in their actions and behavior during this uncertainty. For this they were commended.

Our most prestigious award, The Janet Sieber Award, was awarded to Ron Lankey. A staff member who has been with the Agency for a minimum of 10 years can be nominated for this award. Ron was awarded for the Core Value of Communication. As the Assistant Property Manager, one of Ron’s responsibilities is the inspection of apartments for our Permanent Supportive Housing program. He saw the value of having good relationships with the landlords we work with for this program. Ron has cultivated relationships and communicated with the landlords to help them understand the importance of repairs to adhere to the Section 8 Housing guidelines. Along with all his other duties, he has placed a high importance on maintaining these relationships to ensure that individuals in this program receive safe and decent housing in the communities in which they live.

Read More about Excellence in Service


A High Mark is Set for TSI’s 2nd Annual Walk Fundraiser

TSI Will be participating in the 2013 Highmark Walk - TSI's 2nd Annual Walk Fundraiser
TSI will be participating in the 2013 Highmark Walk - TSI's 2nd Annual Walk Fundraiser
Find your walking shoes, check the laces and summon your friends. TSI is calling upon the help of ALL family members, friends, staff, individuals served, vendors, and ANYONE who believes in our mission to help us raise money in our signature fundraiser this year. We have decided we have more lives to touch and more needs to meet so we have nearly doubled our goal over last year’s to $15,000. Yes, your eyes are working - $15,000. The nearly $8,000 raised last year was used to help ensure our community supported living program for persons with intellectual disabilities remain open. Every dollar was invaluable. We know that with YOUR help; talking with your friends and working within your social circles to encourage participation, TOGETHER we can achieve our goal.

“The nearly $8,000 raised last year was used to help ensure our community supported living program for persons with intellectual disabilities remain open.”

Please be on the lookout for emails and announcements about this great opportunity to support TSI. Be sure to find us on Facebook in March – WHEN WE LAUNCH OUR PAGE - “like us” and keep in touch with all the walk news. The Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community is being held on Saturday May 18th at Stage AE. TSI is among 68 nonprofit organizations benefitting. Walk registration opened on February 1, so if you have not registered – what are you waiting for? Please save the date, bring your friends, your dog, your neighbor, whoever so we can all walk together at this fun, fantastic event.

To register, Click Here.

The Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community began as a way for non-profit organizations to work synergistically to raise funds to support their community mission. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield underwrites 100% of the cost of the event and funds raised directly benefit the 68 nonprofit organizations participating.


Homestead Pays Homage To Steel

In early fall, the Homestead-area Economic Revitalization Corporation (HERC) transformed the Historical Landmark for the Unite States Steel Works ingot buggy. This landmark is housed at the administrative office of TSI. Click here to read a feature article from the Tribune Review.Homestead Pays Homage To SteelHomestead Pays Homage To Steel


Years of Service Award Winners

30 Years of Service

30 Years of Service

Joyce Felton

Janet Sieber Award Winner

Janet Sieber Award Winner

Ron Lankey (right), pictured with Victoria Livingstone (left), Janet Sieber (middle)

25 Years of Service

25 Years of Service

(left to right) Dana Cook, Sandy Norman

20 Years of Service

20 Years of Service

(left to right) Michelle Welsh, Joe Sieber;
(not pictured) Karen Clarke, Lynn Nickel

15 Years of Service

15 Years of Service

(left to right) Arden Solomon, Bob Dinkelmeyer, Jill Stratton, Bob Horn;
(not pictured) Robert Doubt, Paul Nickel

10 Years of Service

10 Years of Service

(left to right) Patricia Montella, Kathy Doloughty, Jenise Shealey, Marie Gerg;
(not pictured) Laurie Elliott, Victoria Marshman

5 Years of Service

5 Years of Service

(left to right) Alissa Bell, Melissa Caldwell, Amy DiVincenzo;
(not pictured) Kim Mikita

3 Years of Service

3 Years of Service

(left to right) Pam Rusch, Shaunte Blanchard, Andre Glover,
Kewanna Ferguson, Joyce Craddock;
(not pictured) Dennis Herndon


Bid on Steelers History…Change Lives

Bid on the Immaculate Reception game day locker room pass signed by Franco Harris, "Frenchy" Fuqua, and "Mean" Joe Greene. It was owned by Homer J. – the man in the elevator who told Mr. Rooney about the special play that changed the course of Steelers history.

Steelers Immaculate Reception Game Day Locker Room Pass

In response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, long-time TSI supporter, Mike Silverstein, has donated his treasured piece of Steelers history to The Alberts Foundation to raise awareness and money to support TSI’s mission of helping people with mental disabilities live quality lives in the community. Mike passionately believes that more resources are needed to fund mental health services and better address the mental health and wellness challenges our communities face.

Steelers Immaculate Reception Game MemorabiliaTo bid on this special piece of Steelers memorabilia, click on the link below. All auction proceeds will go to the Alberts Foundation to support TSI’s mission.

To read the account of the Immaculate Reception written by Mike Silverstein (Homer J.) featured on Behind the Steel Curtain click the link below.

 

Immaculate Reception written by Mike Silverstein

TSI Aims High with Walk & Exceeds Expectations

Victoria Livingstone, CEO, and Craig Dorin, Director of Operations
Victoria Livingstone, CEO, and Craig Dorin, Director of Operations at the TSI booth prior to the start of the HighMark Walk for a Healthy Community. TSI had a great showing and raised nearly $8,000 in its first year participating.
Looking for a successful fundraiser to capture more interest and achieve higher returns, in May TSI participated in Highmark’s Walk for a Healthy Community and raised $7,916. This was the most successful fundraiser to date. All stakeholders got involved and showed some level of support which is something that has not been accomplished with past events. Although $10,000 was not raised, the original goal of $5,000 was well exceeded!

TSI Aims High with Walk & Exceeds ExpectationsThe walk itself was fantastic! More than 25 walkers represented TSI among the approximate 10,000 in attendance. The event offered something for everyone. A live band, activities for all ages, prize drawings and the famed Pirate Pierogies transformed the event into a festival. The tremendously successful fundraiser would not have been possible without the dedication of many, especially the walk planning committee: Alissa Bell, Joyce Felton, Jen Mullins, Dani Ranalli, Jennifer Spitzer and Janet Whitney.

Warm thanks to TSI staff and their families, Board Members and friends of TSI who supported the special event by registering as walkers raising money and spreading the word. Special thanks to M2Technology, McGee, Maruca & Associates, PPC and our friends at Our Own Home for their generous support.

Giving Makes a Difference

Highmark Walk For A Healthy Community

Transitional Services, Inc. (TSI), along with 69 other local nonprofit organizations, will participate in this year’s Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community on Saturday, May 19 at Stage AE at Pittsburgh’s North Shore. The Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community is presented by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, which underwrites the cost of the walk so that 100 percent of the money raised by walkers supports the participating organizations.

Our fundraising goals are to recruit naturalized in the United States. He took the time to fill out an extensive application in which he needed to have two passport photos, his green card and any documents that he obtained from his home country. Johnis states that he was anxious at times during the waiting process for at least 100 walkers and raise $10,000. We need everyone’s support to make this a huge success! To register, click on the banner on our home page (www.transitionalservices.org)—it will take you directly to the TSI page. You can also visit www.walkforahealthycommunity.org for additional information about the walk.

Walkers can look forward to an accessible walkway for strollers and wheelchairs; convenient parking on the North Shore; food, beverage, music, activities and prize drawings after the walk; and a chance to win prizes valued at $1,000, collectively. If you donate or raise $25 or more, you will receive a Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community t-shirt (while supplies last). If you are unable to walk on May 19, you can register as a virtual walker. It’s fast and easy. If you need help or have questions, contact Janet Whitney at 412-464-4370 x222.

TSI's 2011 Annual Recognition Dinner

TSI Annual Recognition Awards

TSI returned to the Westwood Golf Club for its annual Employee Recognition Dinner. As in years past, David Treece, Human Resources Director, emceed the event. This year’s event was bittersweet. As employees were recognized for their years of service and dedication to TSI, it was also realized that an era had just ended as CEO Sharon A. Alberts celebrated her official retirement. Many employees and guests were in attendance for this special evening. The momentous evening’s activities commenced with a special performance by musician Davy Sturtevant. His musical stories of challenges faced and overcome created an appropriate backdrop for the much anticipated Above & Beyond awards, which go to employees who have gone ‘above and beyond’ their responsibilities to serve others. These staff have been nominated throughout the year and have been selected by the board as the “cream of the crop.”

Jenny Spitzer, Housing Support Supervisor, and Bob Dinkelmeyer, Fiscal Accountant, won a joint award for ensuring that an individual in the Permanent Supportive Housing program would be able to maintain his housing. Jenny and Bob were willing to use personal means to make sure the individual would be able to remain in his community.

John Starr, Assistant Property Manager, was nominated for the Guiding Principle Lead by example. John made sure that TSI’s relationship with a current landlord stayed positive by being the only one on his team to assist with a difficult move. He participated in the move without complaint or hesitation. Instead, he did so with a great attitude.

Joyce Snyder, Community Support Specialist II, was recognized for the principle Never forgetting why we do what we do. She had a conversation with a person served and noticed that the woman did not quite sound like herself. Concerned about this, she took it upon herself to visit the woman to make sure she was alright. Noticing that she did not appear to be okay, Joyce called emergency personnel to get her the medical attention she needed.

Read More about Excellence in Service

Throughout the evening, staff door prizes were drawn and an opportunity to give back was seized. All in attendance gave generously to the raffle baskets designated to support TSI’s holiday luncheon for persons served. Over $400 was raised to help with the costs of door prizes. Items raffled this year included two sets of Steelers tickets, Penguins tickets and baskets full of personal items, including a “green basket” containing earth-friendly products made with natural ingredients.

Years of Service Award Winners

30 Years of Service

30 Years of Service

Lois Woody (right) with Sharon Alberts
(not pictured): Jackie Pillows

25 Years of Service

Norman Tomaszewski (not pictured)

15 Years of Service

15 Years of Service

Shawn Glass (left) and Myrla Myers (right), with Sharon Alberts (center)
(not pictured): Yvette Stearns

10 Years of Service

10 Years of Service

Keisha Meadows (left) and Debbie Jennings (right)
(not pictured): LaRue Staples, John Lavender,
Beth Liberman
, Gretchen Oliverio

5 Years of Service

Mia Crumpler (not pictured)

3 Years of Service

3 Years of Service

Riza Thomas-Glovka (left) and Monica Scott (right)
(not pictured): Anthony McElroy, Jessica Burr

Janet Sieber Award Winner

Janet Sieber Award Winner

Gerry Henry (left) with
Sharon Alberts (center) and Janet Sieber (right)

10/16/2010 — TSI 4th Annual Art Show and Sale

TSI 4th Annual Art Show - Singer-Songwriter Cathasaigh

Singer-Songwriter Cathasaigh

This year marks the fourth year that TSI has held its art show and sale.  In years past, we have worked with the Steel Valley Arts Council and exhibited in their ArtSpace105 in Homestead.  Those years were very exciting for the agency as well as the exhibiting artists.  TSI has created lasting relationships with other organizations who we continue to work with on other projects.  2010 is a new year, and with that, we are starting a new chapter in the show’s history. 

We are taking the energy of an opening night reception and putting it into one 3-hour event.  The art will be displayed at the Carnegie Library of Homestead and the surrounding grounds.  Accompanying the art exhibit will be a performance by folk musician, singer and songwriter, Cathasaigh.  A family art station set up in adjacent Kennedy Park will entertain kids both old and new. 

Those attending the exhibit will vote on their top three favorite works of art and an awards ceremony and reception will close the event.  All work exhibited will be for sale, with the proceeds going directly to the artist. 

It is anticipated that we will reach a broad audience and grow the appeal of the show, and reach out to the neighborhood of Homestead PA. 

The 4th Annual Art Show and Sale will be underway from 2 – 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, 2010.  Contact Jen Mullins, Community Support Program Supervisor, for more information at 412-462-1525 ext. 224 or via email at jmullins@transitionalservices.org.

Pittsburgh Council on the Arts

Supported in part by both the Steinsapir Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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06/24/2010 — $2,518 Raised In Grandest Style

Sharon Alberts and Lawrence Loh

Sharon Alberts and
Lawrence Loh

A memorable summer night out! Heinz Hall was alive with world-class melody, harmony and rhythm for the Community Partners Concert on June 24. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) led by Maestro Lawrence Loh delivered an outstanding performance with musical selections from feisty “Carmen.” A surprise special guest conductor, former Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl MVP and Community Partners Honorary Chair, Mr. Lynn Swann, received enthusiastic ovations from the audience.

Featured violinist, Gareth Johnson, 2010 Sphinx competition winner, was unforgettable; he amazed everyone with his technical mastery. Gloria Gaynor took the stage following intermission and had the audience on its feet with her final selection, "I Will Survive."

In its fourth year of participation, TSI sold fifty tickets for the concert and will receive $2,518 from the PSO as a result of those sales. Although we were $500 short of reaching this year’s goal, we were successful in surpassing last year’s sales figures. A big thank-you is extended to all Board members, staff and vendors who supported TSI by attending the concert and/or selling tickets. Each year proves to be more exciting than the last; and we hope for even greater success next year.

The Sphinx Competition offers young African American and Latino classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges and to perform with established professional musicians in a competition setting.  Its primary goals are to encourage, develop and recognize classical music talent in the African American and Latino communities.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra donates its time and services to the Community Partners Concert. Fifty nonprofits from the area participate. Each organization asks its partners and donors to purchase tickets. Designated proceeds go to the individual nonprofits. This year, a total of $69,816 (representing 1,567 designated tickets) was raised by designated ticket sales to the concert. In seven years of the Community Partners Program, a total of $539,000 (over ½ million dollars) has been raised by and for the PSO's Partners.

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06/24/2010 — Support TSI While Enjoying the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Gloria Gaynor

June 24, 2010 - Gloria Gaynor ConcertDon’t miss your chance to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) perform the 2010 Community Partners Concert featuring the Grammy award winning music of singer-songwriter Gloria Gaynor and the winner of the renowned 2010 Sphinx Competition, violinist Gareth Johnson.

The impressive event is hosted for the second year by Honorary Chair and former Pittsburgh Steeler and Super Bowl MVP, Mr. Lynn C. Swann. Gloria Gaynor’s dance, pop, disco and R&B sounds open the musical performance and it concludes with an accompaniment by the full Orchestra led by Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh. If you are a fan of Gloria Gaynor and the PSO, then this is one event you must attend.

The event takes place on Thursday, June 24 at 7:30 PM in Heinz Hall. Ticket prices range from $21.50 to $125.50 – the high-end ticket includes a post-concert reception with Gloria Gaynor.

Support Transitional Services, Inc. (TSI) by purchasing tickets for this wonderful concert and selecting TSI as the organization to receive your ticket proceeds. For assistance ordering tickets to guarantee support for TSI, call Gerry at 412-461-1322 ext. 222. For more information about the concert, contact the Heinz Hall Box Office at 412-392-4900 or visit www.pittsburghsymphony.org. Make sure TSI’s code, 18221, is used when the tickets are purchased. Sample the sounds of Gloria Gaynor at www.gloriagaynor.com.

The PSO’s Community Partners Program is a collaboration of 50 Pittsburgh area nonprofit organizations. In 2010, the Community Partners Program celebrates its seventh year of this innovative approach to fund-raising and community partnership: all proceeds from designated ticket sales to this annual performance are donated back to the Partner organization by the PSO. Patrons select one of the 50 participating Partner organizations to support with the cost of their ticket purchase.

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10/04/2009 — TSI Raises Over $2,000 for NAMI of Southwestern Pennsylvania

A champion for the cause

A Champion For The Cause

Early in the morning on Sunday, October 4th, 2009, a group of TSI employees, their family members, friends, and even dogs gathered on the front steps of the Cheese Cake Factory restaurant in the South Side. The group of twenty-seven, “TSI Titans,” met to represent TSI in the Third Annual Southwestern Pennsylvania NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) walk. They joined over 2,000 other walkers who congregated in the courtyard of the Southside Works shopping and dining area that morning to show their support for NAMI and the organization’s mission. The Titans walked three miles along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail with other walker teams formed by organizations such as Northwestern Human Services, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Mercy Behavioral Health, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Mon Yough and Family Services.

United they walked

United They Walked

The walk was a wonderful opportunity for the TSI team to enjoy some time outdoors with family, friends, and co-workers, get some exercise, network with other service providers and show our investment as an agency in supporting recovery and wellness in our community and region. In addition, the TSI Titans team was able to raise, on behalf of our organization, $2,125.00 for NAMI of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

NAMI of Southwestern Pennsylvania is a grassroots organization which works to provide support, education and advocacy for people living with mental illness in our region and their family members.

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NAMI Walk Photo Gallery

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06/25/2009 — TSI Community Partners Project with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a concert with Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan Concert June 25th 2009 at 8:00 PMThe Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra teams with legendary singer Chaka Khan and 50 area nonprofits for the Sixth Annual Community Partners concert.

The event, hosted by Honorary Chairman Lynn Swann, takes place on Thursday, June 25 at 8:00 p.m. in Heinz Hall. The PSO’s Community Partners Program is a collaboration with 50 Pittsburgh area nonprofit organizations.

In 2009, the Community Partners Program celebrates its sixth year of this innovative approach to fund-raising and community partnership: all proceeds from designated ticket sales to this annual performance are donated back to the Partner organizations by the PSO. Patrons select one of the 50 participating nonprofit Partner organizations to support with the cost of their ticket purchase.

PSO Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh leads the Orchestra in the first half of the concert featuring cellist Tony Rymer, 2009 Sphinx Competition Winner. Don’t miss this chance to hear the PSO, Sphinx Competition winner cellist Tony Rymer, and Chaka Khan performing her Grammy-winning R&B hits with the PSO.

Ticket prices range from $21.50 to $112.50 – the high end ticket price includes a post-concert reception. Designated ticket proceeds from this event will benefit the participating nonprofit Partner of your choice. Please consider supporting Transitional Services, Inc (TSI) by purchasing tickets for this event. Make sure that you use TSI’s code, 11793 when you make your ticket purchase.

For more information contact the Heinz Hall Box Office at 412-392-4900 or visit www.pittsburghsymphony.org.

Download the 2005 Annual ReportDownload a Concert Brochure
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(Download the Free Adobe Reader Here)

Visit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to learn more & order tickets

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06/26/2008 — TSI Community Partners Project with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for a concert with Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes Concert June 26th 2008 at 8:00 PMMark your calendars now for the Community Partners Concert on Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 8pm at Heinz Hall. TSI is supporting this successful and very entertaining concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The ticket proceeds will once again benefit TSI and other nonprofit organizations.

Don’t miss this chance to see legendary Isaac Hayes, an American Grammy Award and Academy Award-winning soul and funk singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and actor. The concert will also feature the 2008 Sphinx competition winner.

When making a ticket purchase, please be sure to inform the box office of Transitional Services, Inc.’s code (6678) in order to assure that appropriate funds are dedicated to our organization via the ticket purchase.

Tickets are available beginning Monday, February 25, 2008. Prices start at $21.50 each. You may contact Transitional Services, Inc. for more information at 412-461-1322 ext. 222.

Download the 2005 Annual ReportDownload a Concert Brochure
To view this PDF document you will need the Free Adobe Reader.
(Download the Free Adobe Reader Here)

Visit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to learn more & order tickets

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07/04/2007 TSI In the News — Women's Recovery Stories Illustrate The Importance of Un-Dependence Day

TSI's peer specialist, Jeannette Lee, shares her recovery experience with the Post Gazette. "Sometimes other people have to have faith in you before you can have faith in yourself..." Learn more about Jeannette's personal recovery insights and read the full story below.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007
By Laura Yao, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Diane Johnson at Home
Pam Panchak, Post-Gazette
Diane Johnson at her home in Garfield Friday.

In 2006, Diane Johnson lay in the hospital tied to her bed, her hands wrapped in fingerless gloves. She called out, thinking she had been kidnapped and was being held in a basement somewhere, her clothes and shoes gone. She punched a nurse.

Ms. Johnson was getting a brain tumor removed. Mired in depression and schizophrenia at the time, she remembers none of her hospital stay.

She laughs easily now, recalling the story. At 51, her recovery from decades of illness -- both mental and physical -- is almost complete. These days, she speaks of her experiences as though they happened to someone else, a person she knew long ago.

After her only brother died in 2003, the depression she had always suffered took a turn for the worse. She also developed schizophrenia and psychosis, and was hospitalized multiple times.

For three years, her doctors upped her medication as her symptoms worsened, not thinking to check for physical problems.

"I was going downhill. I was seeing things, I was scared to leave my home. I had chairs up to all the doors of my house. My speech was slurred, I was falling out of bed," she said. "My doctor just kept giving me more medication."

Finally, without her doctor's approval, she went in to the hospital for shock treatment in April 2006.

During pre-treatment brain screenings, they found a spot on her brain. As it turned out, a brain tumor -- which, after 10 years, had grown to "the size of an orange," she said -- had been pushing on her brain, causing 90 percent of her schizophrenia.

After the surgery, she had to learn how to walk, speak, and write again. Her hair still hasn't grown back fully, though she wears a wig. Her recovery was hard -- but "I'm still here, I'm alive," she said.

This year, people like Ms. Johnson of Garfield will celebrate a different kind of independence.

On July 7, Un-Dependence Day, sponsored by the Allegheny County Coalition For Recovery, is dedicated to raising awareness and celebrating recovery -- either from drug and alcohol addiction or from mental illness. The event will start at 11 a.m. at Carnegie Library on Forbes Avenue, Oakland, and will offer food, music, balloon animals, and a puppet show to attract the public.

"A major goal of the event is to reduce the stigma associated with those who have behavioral health issues," said Bobbi Donovan, communications specialist with the Coalition For Recovery. "We want to break the barriers of 'us' and 'them.' Everyone is recovering from something."

Recovery comes in all shapes and sizes. Jeannette Lee of Wilkinsburg experienced a different kind of struggle from Ms. Johnson. Ms. Lee, who has been clean for almost 11 years, was once addicted to cocaine.

"I started using drugs when I was 13 -- alcohol and marijuana," she said. "I thought I'd never do crack cocaine, but I started, and it was a life of homelessness and despair. It was basically suicide."

Ms. Lee also suffered from depression and schizophrenia, and later, bipolar disorder.

She went to rehab, but would get out and continue her drug habit. It was only when her neighbors called youth services on her that she decided to clean up.

"I didn't want to lose my kids," she said. "I was helped by the people who called Children and Youth Services on me. I give them credit."

But to recover is not simply to stop using drugs, or to stop seeing visions.

Recovery is multifaceted -- it is first to recognize the problem, and then to address it, said Wesley Sowers, medical director for the Allegheny County Office of Behavioral Health.

It is to assert yourself in the world, and to reinhabit your old life.

"In the end, recovery is about developing hope and a sense of personal power," said Mr. Sowers.

For Ms. Lee, recovery was about finding the things she valued most.

"I have a job now, and a life that's free of drugs." She is married to a man she met in a support group, and has three children.

Ms. Johnson lives next door to her mother, who calls her "the miracle child." She has two grown daughters, and a long-term boyfriend who has stayed with her through the hard times.

"I met him when I was sick and I kept trying to get him to break up with me, kept trying to push him away," she said. "He just wouldn't do it."

Both women agreed that having the support of family and community was integral to their recovery. Now, both are using their experiences to help others.

Ms. Johnson, besides being the secretary for Un-Dependence Day, sits on the boards of the Peer Health and Advocacy Network and the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association.

She has written letters to mental health agencies urging them to provide physicals for mental health patients.

Ms. Lee is also involved in outreach and advocacy. She works as a peer specialist at Transitional Services, Inc. She has started a support group called CORE -- Creating Options in Recovery and Education -- which offers four weeks of recovery skills for people with mental illness.

"Sometimes other people have to have faith in you before you can have faith in yourself," she said. To that end, she brings CORE to support people in homes.

Ms. Johnson and Ms. Lee say that a key aspect in recovering fully is acceptance.

"I'm not ashamed. Everyone has problems," said Ms. Lee. "I know I have limits and I accept that. The slow turtle always wins the race."

Ms. Johnson keeps a similarly positive attitude. In her family, her brain tumor has become a joke. "Everybody just calls it 'the orange,' " she said.

That she is doing better is apparent to everyone around her.

"I used to have so much sadness or anger on my face. After the surgery, my whole face was swollen and lopsided," she said.

"Now, I feel so empowered. Everybody who sees me is in awe."

(Copyright, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2007, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.)

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06/21/2007 — TSI Community Partners Project with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for concert with The Fifth Dimension

5th Dimension Concert June 21st 2007 at 8:00 PMTransitional Services, Inc. joins the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in their 4th annual Community Partners Project Concert on Thursday, June 21st at 8:00 PM with The Fifth Dimension! Enjoy a groovy night out with The Fifth Dimension and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Chelsea Tipton III, with a special performance by the winners of the renowned Sphinx Competition, violinist Elena Urioste (2007) & violist Kaila Potts (2004)!

Conceived as an annual collaboration with Pittsburgh area nonprofit organizations, the PSO Community Partners Concert celebrates its fourth year of this innovative approach to ticket sales and fund-raising. Patrons earmark the cost of their ticket purchase to benefit the participating nonprofit of their choice. The PSO donates the orchestra services and secures corporate sponsors to underwrite out-of-pocket costs associated with the guest artists and concert production. Proceeds from the concert are distributed among participating partners. As a participating partner, Transitional Services, Inc. benefits in part by receiving a portion of the proceeds from the community sponsored concert. To select Transitional Services as the recipient of the proceeds from your ticket purchase, please enter "2480" in the downloadable ticket order form below.

This season we welcome back the PSO Community Partners Honorary Chair, MAX STARKS of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For additional information or to reserve your tickets, download a concert brochure with ticket order form today!

Download the 2005 Annual ReportDownload a Concert Brochure with Ticket Order Form
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