Archived News & Events - July 2017

July 31, 2017

Zapp Consumers Visit Caring Heights

Zapp Consumers Visit Caring Heights On July 21, individuals and staff members from Edward J. Zapp Program Center at NHS/AVS participated in a community service project at Caring Heights Community Care & Rehabilitation Center. The NHS/AVS individuals joined Caring Heights residents in doing a craft, painting and decorating summer door hangers. Everyone had a great time interacting and visiting with those who they’ve had a friendship with for several years. Thanks to the Walter F. and Ellen H. Nicoden Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, the group was able to enjoy a lunch at Pizza Hut after the visit.

July 24, 2017

2017 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Wrap-Up

The 35th annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP), presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, concluded on Race Weekend (July 15-16) at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. Leading up to the weekend was 10 days of events that included car shows, parades, a gala, a new party in an airplane hangar, vintage races, and much more.

This year, several NHS Allegheny Valley School consumers attended PVGP events as charity ambassadors. They mingled at the Black Tie & Tailpipes Gala, sang the National Anthem, rode in race cars at Pitt-Race, and waved to the crowds as they participated in the race weekend Opening Ceremonies Parade. We are grateful to the ambassadors for representing NHS/AVS so well! The beautiful weather drew huge crowds to Schenley Park for Race Weekend. The park was filled with spectacular cars of all ages, makes and models – including numerous Camaros, the 2017 Marque of the Year. Spectators participated in activities designed for all ages, including the qualifying races on July 15 and the finals on July 16.

We are grateful to the many family members, friends, and employees who came out to Schenley Park to volunteer and sell PVGP merchandise. The sunny weather helped to make this weekend a huge success. THANK YOU to our army of volunteers!

The PVGP is a volunteer-led organization with more than 1,000 participants coming together to run the entire event from laying the race track, to collecting donations, to selling merchandise. The event brings race fans from around the world to Pittsburgh to experience this truly unique festival of vintage cars. We are grateful to all volunteers for their efforts to ensure the event runs smoothly, is enjoyable to the spectators, and is a huge success for the charities. Since its start in 1983, the PVGP has raised more than $4.75 million for its two charities - NHS Allegheny Valley School and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.

Save the date for PVGP 2018: July 6 – 15, with Race Weekend on July 14 and 15. BMW will be the Marque of the Year in 2018!

For more about the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, visit

July 21, 2017

CPS Conference in Montgomery County

NHS and Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health hosted a conference for Certified Peer Specialists (CPS) on July 13. As part of the Trauma Informed Care initiative, the conference focused on how to manage trauma, with remarks from Eva Dech from Intentional Peer Support. Eva provided staff with techniques they can use and share with others on how to respond during fight-or-flight mode when facing a traumatic experience.

CPS Conference in Montgomery County CPS Conference in Montgomery County
July 14, 2017

Congratulations, Jodi Savits, Recipient of the 2017 Voice Award!

Congratulations, Jodi Savits, Recipient of the 2017 Voice Award! Congratulations, Jodi Savits, Recipient of the 2017 Voice Award!

NHS congratulates Jodi Savits, program director of Fresh Start programs in Coatesville, PA for being selected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to receive a 2017 Voice Award! Sponsored by SAMHSA, the Voice Awards program honors people in recovery and their family members who are community champions to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses and addictions. The Voice Awards also recognizes television and film productions that educate the public about mental health and/or addictions and showcase that recovery is real and possible. In 2017, the Voice Awards is spotlighting individuals and entertainment productions that provide hope and support to past and present service members who have faced mental health and addiction challenges.

Fresh Start in Coatesville offers an integrated service model serving veterans with serious mental health issues, homelessness, and substance abuse. Jodi’s team works with veterans to get them medically and psychologically ready for services including D&A counseling, mental health, primary care, and job placement. Perhaps the best testament to Jodi and why she deserves the Voice Award is a quote from a grateful veteran: “As veterans we don’t always know when we need help. We don’t always know where to get help or how to ask for it. Then when help comes to us we like to tell the help how best to help us. We talk over the help. But Jodi Savits waited me out. She waited until I was finally quiet and she never gave up and when I was able to let her help in she led me into one of my toughest missions...recovery.”

Jodi will proudly attend the 2017 Voice Awards on Wednesday, August 16 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA. This event will bring together people from the entertainment industry, behavioral health community, and military and veteran community to celebrate increased awareness of mental health and addictions and the power of recovery.

July 14, 2017

Autism in Family Courts - What the Bench and Bar Need to Know

Autism in Family Courts—What the Bench and Bar Need to Know Congratulations to NHS Parent Board member Judge Kelly Wall, and Executive Vice President Karen Markle, on their recent publication in The Legal Intelligencer on the challenges of dealing with children with autism and families in the courts. Because there is not much information for the judges and other members of the courts on how to deal with someone with autism, this article is extremely timely, relevant, and valuable given the rise in cases presented.

Click here to read the entire article. The Legal Intelligencer is a highly respected publication in the legal field, and their publication is a significant step towards educating others on how to better manage these challenging cases.

July 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Celebrates 35 Years

The 35th Anniversary Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, presented by the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Foundation, kicked off in style this past weekend. Several NHS Allegheny Valley School ambassadors and other guests have attended events including:

  • Blacktie & Tailpipes Gala, Friday, July 7, Pittsburgh Field Club: Ambassadors Liz, Brandon, Ed and Joe, along with staff members Gert, Chris and Jim, greeted guests as they arrived at this grand event. The Ambassadors took photos with guests, admired the gorgeous vehicles on display, and enjoyed seeing everyone dressed to the nines. A photo of the four was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s weekly SEEN column! A good time was had by all.
  • PVGP Historics at Pitt Race, Sunday, July 9, Pittsburgh International Race Complex: The Pittsburgh Campus Choir was thrilled to sing the National Anthem at Pitt Race on Sunday morning. NHS/AVS Ambassadors Brandon and Joe also loved their ride in a race car!

  • PVGP Receives Proclamation from Pittsburgh City Council, Tuesday, July 11: City Council member Corey O’Connor tweeted, “I was honored to present @PghVintageGP w/ a proclamation commending its 35 years of successful events, programming, & philanthropic efforts.” NHS/AVS ambassador Liz was on hand to accept the proclamation, along with the PVGP’s Dan DelBianco and NHS/AVS’s Dorothy Gordon.
    Photo caption:
    PVGP Ambassador Liz attended the Pittsburgh City Council meeting to receive a proclamation for the PVGP by City Councilman Corey O’Connor.  Liz, along with the PVGP’s Dan DelBianco and NHS/AVS’s Dorothy Gordon, are surrounded by members of Pittsburgh City Council.

  • Tune-Up at Atria’s, Wednesday, July 12, Atria’s at PNC Park:  This annual downtown party transforms Federal Street and the Clemente Bridge into a massive car show. Director of Facilities Management John Police had his 1973 Camaro on display where our crew gathered for a team photo. The 50th Anniversary of the Camaro is being celebrated during this year’s event.

  • Inaugural Passport to Elegance, Thursday, July 13, Voyager Jet Center:  Guests traveled back in time and around the globe to kick-off race weekend in high-style at this first-time event. Historic cars and airplanes were on display as guests mixed and mingled in a beautifully decorated airplane hangar at the Allegheny County Airport.

Watch for highlights from RACE WEEKEND next week!

NHS/AVS is grateful for the support of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association, whose mission is to hold a world-class vintage automotive race event for charity. Since 1983, this volunteer-driven event has raised more than $2 million for NHS Allegheny Valley School. The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix remains our country's largest vintage race event and the only one run on city streets.

July 6, 2017

One Individual at a Time

One Individual at a TimeOur social media campaign One Individual at a Time has begun. This month, we are focusing on Pantry for Pride, our school lunch program that provides food for those in need. To support this initiative we are asking staff to become NHS advocates. Word of mouth messages are much more important coming from people you know. We are asking that you start to share with your personal networks and follow us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and SNAPCHAT. Each week watch for live streaming and videos, interviews with colleagues and the people we serve.

July 6, 2017

Honoring Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

On June 21, individuals and staff members across western PA celebrated The Longest Day, an initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association meant to build awareness about the challenges faced by those who are impacted by Alzheimer’s/Dementia, including their caregivers. On the summer solstice, NHS/AVS staff members were encouraged to wear purple and white, the colors designated to show support for those facing Alzheimer’s/Dementia. In and around western PA, the following activities took place:

  • Individuals at the Slippery Rock Program Center created and sent cards to their peers in the Memory Care Home, and participated in a walk-a-thon and bike-a-thon around the outdoor sensory area. Purple and white balloons were released by the individuals who attend the Senior Center. Consumers also released butterflies that they had raised. Butterflies signify endurance, hope, and life, a fitting tribute to those who are impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
  • Nearly $700 was raised for the Memory Care Program through fundraisers at several locations:
    • Individuals in the food preparation programs at the Zapp and Slippery Rock Program Centers baked, decorated, and labeled cookies and cupcakes.
    • Consumers, staff members, family members and friends purchased purple carnations that were sent to special people in their lives.
    • Supporters bought petals and wrote messages to honor someone who is impacted by Alzheimer’s/Dementia. The petals were used to create a huge flower at Patricia Hillman Miller Campus.
  • Consumers and staff members at the Kennedy and Zapp Program Centers held their second annual Walk With Me event. Consumers took turns carrying a flag while walking with a staff member through an outdoor path. During the walk, they discussed their favorite things and recalled memories from their past. Each participant planted a purple or white flower along the walking path.
July 6, 2017

NHS Philadelphia Celebrates Eid al-Fitr

NHS Philadelphia Celebrates Eid al-Fitr NHS Philadelphia Celebrates Eid al-Fitr "Thank you for celebrating all of the holidays," said Dr. Fathima Musthaq, child psychiatrist at the NHS outpatient clinic located in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia. NHS Philadelphia celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr on June 29 with a brunch for staff members. Eid is a festival marking a new month and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The holiday occurred on Monday June 26, but the Mt. Airy celebration was held a few days later to allow those who customarily take off after Ramadan to attend. Several dozen staff enjoyed each other's company while enjoying a Middle-Eastern buffet from Al-Dar restaurant. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, with the others being Faith, Prayer, Charity and Pilgrimage.