March 2021. Lakewood. Danielle Farrell, Coordinator for our PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) program, has been selected as the Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s first Behavioral Healthcare Hero for 2021! We are so glad to see Danielle getting this wonderful recognition for the work she does tirelessly every day! Here is the announcement from the Mental Health Association in New Jersey:
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is proud to announce that Danielle Farrell has been named the first Behavioral Healthcare Hero of 2021! Ms. Farrell has a BS in Psychology and works at Preferred Behavioral Health Group (PBHG) in Lakewood, NJ. She is the PATH Coordinator and also operates the Food Pantry run by PBHG in affiliation with Fulfill, the food bank for Monmouth and Ocean counties. PATH is Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness and in this capacity, Ms. Farrell works directly with the local homeless population (consumers) to secure food, shelter and other necessities.
Ms. Farrell was nominated by her supervisor, Donna Comerford, MSW/LCSW, Program Director of Residential and Homeless Services. She relayed that, “Danielle chooses to go out and help her people. She truly cares about her consumers. She shows up every day, no matter what, even a pandemic cannot stop her.”
As the coordinator of PATH and the sole employee for this department Ms. Farrell has direct contact with consumers. Some of her clients have a mental health diagnosis or a substance-use disorder and/or a co-occurring diagnosis. Other clients may be in an IOP or attending outpatient services. A few may have unresolved criminal issues which requires her to find and link them to pro-bono lawyers. She works diligently to help them rectify credit issues, to reduce outstanding debt, or secure identification. “I provide community linkages to the client while also trying to provide permanent stable housing; that’s my ultimate goal,” stated Ms. Farrell.
In addition, Ms. Farrell provides support and directs consumers to food stamps, job placement programs, temporary housing, re-entry programs, and social services. She even gladly drives consumers to appointments when necessary. “Danielle is a genuine, caring, empathetic person”, according to Ms. Comerford. “She has an awesome sense of humor which in our field and in life is vital.”
As the pandemic shuttered most in-person services at mental health clinics throughout the state, and others began working remotely, Danielle chose to continue meeting people even though the personal contact became much more difficult and dangerous. Ms. Farrell has developed relationships over time that she was determined to maintain though some consumers have a difficult time trusting. She continued assisting her consumers by meeting them on street corners, in parks and even in their cars. Furthermore, she secured grants of thousands of dollars to operate the food pantry providing thousands of meals for clients in need during the crisis.
Colleagues recount that anyone who knows Danielle, knows that she has always been a strong advocate and fighter for our consumers. When asked why she was attracted to this work she offhandedly replies, “I like engaging with people. I’m very social and I feel really good after being helpful.”
Congratulations to Danielle Farrell! The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is proud to honor this dedicated professional. Her incredible courage, and compassion indicate her willingness to go to extraordinary measures to bring comfort to those individuals navigating homelessness, mental illness and other behavioral health concerns during this crisis.