RAMS, Inc. Chosen as a 2022 Nonprofit of the Year by Assembly member Philip Ting

San Francisco, CA – RAMS, Inc. is proud to announce its selection as a 2022 California Nonprofit of the Year by Assembly member Philip Ting. RAMS is one of more than one hundred nonprofits that will be honored by their state senators and assembly members for their outstanding contributions to the communities they serve in Sacramento on June 8th, 2022.

RAMS is a non-profit mental health organization committed to advocating for and providing community-based, culturally competent, and consumer-guided services.  Founded in San Francisco’s Richmond District in 1974, RAMS offers comprehensive services that aim to meet the behavioral health, social, vocational, and educational needs of the diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area, with expertise in serving Asian & Pacific Island Americans and Russian-speaking populations.

“This amazing honor reflects years of hard work, sacrifice and creativity by the RAMS team”, shared RAMS CEO Jayvon Muhammad, “RAMS looks forward to continuing to serve the community with the highest level of quality while responding and adapting to constant change.”

According to “Causes Count,” a 2019 report commissioned by CalNonprofits, the nonprofit sector is the 4th largest industry in the state, employing more than 1.2 million people. Each year, California nonprofits generate more than $273 billion in revenue and bring in $40 billion in revenue from outside of California. The unpaid labor contributed by volunteers at nonprofits is equivalent to 330,000 full-time jobs every year.

“Nonprofit organizations play such a critical role in our communities, and the last two years of the pandemic have only served to highlight that.” noted Jan Masaoka, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), which serves as a partner for this awards program. “California Nonprofit of the Year gives elected officials the opportunity to shine a light on the important work nonprofits are doing in their districts and for everyone to appreciate the collective impact of nonprofits in our communities.”
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Additional CalNonprofits Background

California Nonprofits Day is now in its seventh year. Each year legislators from across California choose a Nonprofit of the Year in their district.

Honorees and legislators are invited by CalNonprofits, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector Senator Monique Limón (Santa Barbara), and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector Assemblymember Luz Rivas to a celebratory luncheon on California Nonprofits Day – Jun 8, 2022.

Do you have additional questions about CalNonprofits? Lauren Kay, Director of Communications & Marketing at CalNonprofits, would love to help! Contact her at laurenk@calnonprofits.org or call 213-552-1768.

Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day

In honor of Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day on May 10, Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS) will proudly host a virtual showcase of beautiful ways that the multitude of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures have developed to maintain their mental health. As wellness is an active practice, join us in active learning through our highly experienced panel of experts in yoga, Siva dance, mandala drawing, meditation, and cooking demos! 

Many of our presenters are well-versed, not only in the activities they’re teaching, but also in how the traditional art benefits mental health. For a few examples: Siva Dance is taught by Siva4Wellness, mandala drawing is taught by Joyce Diloy from Works in SOMA Mental Health Clinic, and the meditation worksop is led by RAMS’ Peer Division’s Stephen Leader. As outlined below, Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) underutilize mental health services compared to the general population, often due to deep-rooted cultural stigmas. Many API cultures have ancient wellness practices still used today so it’s a misconception that API individuals and families do not care about mental health. However, these practices are not replacements for therapy nor is psychotherapy a replacement for cultural wellness practices. Therapy can nourish the spirit and activities like yoga, dance, meditation, or cooking can be therapeutic. As you join us in celebrating Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day, we will highlight how one’s mental wellness often involves a combination of activities as we learn from professionals in both psychology and traditional arts. Although the event showcases wellness practices across different API cultures, all individuals of any background are welcome to attend. 

The event will be held virtually on our Facebook page.

About Mental Health Conditions 

About Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day

May is established nationally as both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness month. In 2010, RAMS spearheaded the effort to establish May 10 as the Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day in the State of California and the City and County of San Francisco. APA Mental Health Day has since been established in other cities like Austin, Texas. At the confluence of both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness month, APA Mental Health Day recognizes the importance of raising awareness about mental health and promoting mental wellness in the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

The Rise of Fentanyl is No Accident, and It’s Not Going Away

Doug Russell, a RAMS Peer Counselor, has written and published a powerful article on The San Francisco Standard titled “The Rise of Fentanyl Is No Accident, and It’s Not Going Away.” It is an honest perspective on how Fentanyl came to be a street drug and the danger it presents as it becomes the new normal for many drug users. To check out the article, click here.

Doug Russell is a RAMS Peer Counselor who is working within the DPH Street Medicine Team based out of 50 Ivy. As part of his own journey in recovery, Doug became passionate about low-threshold services for folks after working with the homeless population as a counselor at the 6th Street Harm Reduction Clinic. He is in the process of developing groups to broaden the support available for the fentanyl-using population of San Francisco and a slam poetry process group that hopefully will bring Narrative Therapy to an open mic platform. In his spare time, he is often seen either in full drag or barely covered as a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence and scoping out available walls for his Public Art project: Queer Artists for Queer Spaces.

Giving Tuesday and SCRT’s One-Year Anniversary!

Today marks the Street Crisis Response Team’s (SCRT) one-year anniversary. SCRT has grown from a single team supporting the Tenderloin neighborhood to six teams providing San Francisco with 24/7 citywide coverage in one year. SCRT responds rapidly to people who are having a crisis on City streets with a behavioral health approach that deescalates situations and addresses a person’s immediate needs for care, treatment, and shelter.

In this time, SCRT has responded to over 5,000 calls and engaged nearly 3,000 individuals in crisis. Each response team is made up of a paramedic, a clinician, and a peer provider. RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services provides the peer component of the project. We are incredibly proud of the great work the teams have done over the past year. To learn more, check out the Press Release from the Office of Mayor London Breed.

As a part of Giving Tuesday, RAMS has also released a short video about the Division of Peer-Based services and the impacts our peer programs have. Check out the video below and please share it with your friends and family! Support from donors like you allows RAMS to continue to provide and expand highly needed services like these. If you believe in our mission, you can support us during this giving season here.

Saying goodbye to Dr. Alla Volovich

It is with heavy hearts that RAMS must say goodbye to Dr. Alla Volovich, who abruptly passed away on July 8, 2021 while vacationing in Mexico. With her generosity, passion, and wit, she leaves behind a legacy of unwavering commitment to teaching and mentoring generations of professionals in the field of psychology. She led tirelessly and humbly by example, inspiring those under her wing to develop the kind of cultural, intellectual, and empathic sophistication and sensitivity that she modeled.  

Dr. Volovich started at RAMS as a staff psychologist in 1994 and, in 2000, became the Director of Training for the RAMS Clinical Training Programs, which includes the National Asian American Psychology Training Center (NAAPTC), a nationally recognized, APA-accredited, and award-winning program. NAAPTC is among very few long-standing APA-accredited Doctoral Training Programs housed in a non-profit, community-based organization serving underserved populations. Over the past two decades under Dr. Volovich’s leadership, the Training Program continuously fostered the well-earned reputation for the profoundly meaningful and, for many, life-changing experience under the consistently attentive guidance of Dr. Volovich. Keenly perceptive, attuned, and thoughtful, she created the conditions necessary for interns and trainees to discover parts of themselves that would help shape their development. Over the years, Dr. Volovich worked tirelessly to work with each trainee and intern as unique individuals. 

In keeping with NAAPTC’s history as the country’s first program to focus on developing expertise in working with Asian and Pacific Islander populations, Dr. Volovich utilized curricula that honed clinical skills with a psychodynamic and culturally competent approach, resulting in graduates of her program being able to serve clients through understanding with each individual’s unique history. Training Program graduates have integrated and carried what they learned from her to their work as clinicians, non-profit leaders, writers, policy makers, professors, leading consultants, and other contributors to the mental health field. Many graduates have also joined the RAMS family as committed clinicians, supervisors, and leaders while others returned as training facilitators. These lasting relationships attest to the welcoming and collaborative environment that Dr. Volovich so adroitly created.

As she was fiercely bright, enthusiastic, creative, and compassionate, Dr. Volovich’s passing is a tremendous loss to RAMS and the hundreds of lives she touched. 

Many have asked how they can support Dr. Volovich’s family. The family has requested that donations be made to the RAMS clinical training program in Dr. Volovich’s name via this link. All donations made through this GoFundMe will be for the RAMS clinical training program.

Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day 2021

In honor of Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day, Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS) proudly presented Making Time: Wellness Practices across Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities, a free virtual event open to the public on May 10. From 9:30am – 4:00pm, guests engaged in panel discussions, a Bhangra dance workshop, Chinese integrative medicine, Zen-inspired meditative art, and Samoan dance. 

In light of the pandemic and surge in anti-Asian violence, many in the API community may struggle to find peace and hope in their homes. With Making Time: Wellness Practices across Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities, RAMS shared tips to maintain mental wellness and assure attendees that there should be no shame or stigma around mental health. Although the event showcases wellness practices across different API cultures, all individuals of any background are welcome to attend. 

About Mental Health Conditions 

About Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day

May is established nationally as both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness month. In 2010, RAMS spearheaded the effort to establish May 10 as the Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day in the State of California and the City and County of San Francisco. APA Mental Health Day has since been established in other cities like Austin, Texas. At the confluence of both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness month, APA Mental Health Day recognizes the importance of raising awareness about mental health and promoting mental wellness in the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

Where We Come From: 31 Days of API Heritage

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May 2021, RAMS will launch the project: Where We Come From: 31-Days of API Heritage. For every day of May, RAMS will release a 2-minute video with messages of unity and celebration of API culture. 

This year, in light of the surge in anti-Asian racism and violence, we celebrate the cultural contributions of API communities, including the rich tapestry of stories and memories in the Bay Area. Through storytelling from both API and non-API individuals, RAMS will show how beautifully diverse our communities are, and how truly universal our experiences can be.

RAMS is proud to be a part of the greater San Francisco community where so many people have been eager to send messages of unity with the API community. Public officials, community partners, RAMS staff, and many others have volunteered their time and voices in celebration of the many peoples who comprise San Francisco’s API community. Below is a list of just a few of our speakers and storytellers:

  • San Francisco Mayor, London Breed
  • SF District 1 Supervisor, Connie Chan
  • SF District 2 Supervisor, Catherine Stefani
  • SF District 4 Supervisor, Gordon Mar
  • SF District 6 Supervisor, Matt Haney
  • SF District 10 Supervisor, Shamann Walton
  • SF District 11 Supervisor, Ahsha Safaí
  • Chief of Police, William Scott
  • Executive Director of the Japantown Task Force, Steve Nakajo
  • Marin County’s Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Jei Africa
  • SF Small Business Commissioner, William Ortiz -Cartagena

Please view the daily videos on the following RAMS social media platforms (below) and share them with your vast networks. Please share these videos and our social media pages as the San Francisco community spreads messages of unity with the API community. 

 

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Condemnation of Anti-Asian Incidents of Hate

RAMS condemns the recent surge in violence against the Asian community, including last night’s shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, which left eight victims dead, six of whom were Asian women. Although details are continuing to emerge in this investigation, the broader context of increased racial violence in the U.S. cannot be ignored. 

Among the many painful and frustrating challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is a sudden increase in acts of hate against Asian Americans and immigrants. According to Stop AAPI Hate, a project of the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, there have been roughly 2,300 incidents reported across the country since RAMS released its condemnation of anti-Asian racism in April 2020. These past few months have seen yet another surge of physical and verbal assaults against Asian individuals, many of them women and elders. Nearly 300 reports of hate and discrimination have been made in San Francisco alone, including, in one instance, the fatal assault of an 84-year-old man in January of this year.

Combating a crisis, whether a pandemic spread through a virus, or through hate, takes the collective efforts of the community; a divided community cannot truly recover. As an agency staffed by, and serving, members of highly diverse and underrepresented populations, RAMS condemns all acts of racism and violence. None of us at RAMS are strangers to racism, or the resulting trauma in our work and our lives. RAMS is committed to protecting the well-being of our staff and our communities. 

RAMS continues to affirm its commitment to strengthening the SF Bay Area community through cultural understanding and cooperation. We call for the compassionate treatment of all people regardless of sex, age, religion, race, ethnicity, or cultural background.

If you, or someone you know is a victim of racial harassment, you may do the following:

  • Contact local law enforcement and file a report with Stop AAPI Hate, which has received over 3,800 reports since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • You may also report hate crimes by calling the San Francisco District Attorney Hate Crimes Hotline at (415) 551-9595. 
  • Many anti-Asian attacks have been perpetrated against older adults; elder abuse can be reported by calling the DAS Benefits and Resource Hub at (415) 355-6700. 
  • For those seeking counseling within the SF Behavioral Health System of Care, please reach out to RAMS Adult/Older Adult Outpatient Clinic’s Intake line at (415) 668 5955 Ext. 327.
  • For those seeking counseling and are outside the SF Behavioral Health System of Care, please reach out to the RAMS Asian Family Institute Intake line at (415) 668-5998.

To learn more about racism, its effects, and what one can do about it, please refer to the resources below.

Basic Needs for Street Crisis

Launched in November 2020, the Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT) responds to 911 calls regarding people experiencing behavioral health crises today. The SCRT is part of San Francisco’s efforts to develop alternatives to police responses to non-violent calls. Under the Division of Peer-Based Services, RAMS’ Peer Counselors are deployed as a part of a team that includes clinicians and first responders. In addition to local news articles, the team has already drawn some national attention like a segment on NBC news with upcoming interviews with CNN, CBS, and other networks. 

Over the past four months of supporting people during, for some, what may be the worst night of their lives, RAMS’ Peer Counselors have reported that many need a variety of basic needs. Some are found without blankets, shoes, or clothes. Some need sanitation supplies at a time when showers available to the unhoused have become more limited due to COVID. Although it may seem to be a small detail, having an inventory of such items would go a long way in building trust and better supporting the people Peer Counselors are called to help. 

If you’re interested in donating items to support SCRT clients, please visit our Amazon Charity List here or click the link below. All items in the list have been specifically requested by our Peer team in response to the needs they have witnessed in the field. Not only does your support give our team items that are needed most, it also encourages them that members in the community support this kind of service. We are, as always, grateful for your support. 

Historical Opportunities to Serve the Unhoused

For all its damage, COVID-19 presented a unique opportunity to support one of San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations. Although it’s nearly impossible to make an accurate census, it’s estimated that there are roughly 7,000 – 8,000 unhoused individuals living in the city. For a multitude of reasons, it is uniquely difficult to ensure unhoused people have consistent access to medical, mental health, and social services. However, last year, with shelter-in-place orders in place and hotels standing mostly vacant, San Francisco was able to establish Shelter-In-Place (SIP) hotels to house 2,500+ of the most vulnerable of the unhoused, an already highly vulnerable population. Specifically, the hotels housed those who were 65 or older or had a preexisting condition. 

For the first time, a large percentage of the unhoused were concentrated in locations where they can reliably receive support. Like Disaster Service Workers from the RAMS CAAP Counseling Program, the Division of Peer-Based Services was also asked to deploy peer counselors to SIP hotels to provide behavioral health services. Starting in May 2020 with four Peer Counselors, nine peers are currently deployed and have served 200+ unduplicated individuals with 75+ people in person and 150+ people over the phone. Peer Counselors have both behavioral health training and lived experience with mental health and/or substance use issues they can draw upon in order to work effectively with clients. 

The nature of their support is broad ranging. Some need to be connected to Medi-Cal. Some need a cell phone. Some need help getting to medical appointments. Some need services in Spanish, Cantonese, or Japanese. Some just want someone to check in every couple weeks. Some want someone to talk to a couple times a week. Our peer team, in partnership with the RAMS Adult Outpatient Clinic and other Behavioral Health Services providers, have been able to fulfill these needs and serve as an integral support for people during a time that is, to varying degrees, lonely and isolating for us all. One team member stated that these services eliminate “the usual barriers and challenges around connecting with people, and we’re able to offer coordinated care and follow-up. We’re seeing a lot of folks flourish now that they have a connection with behavioral health services and peer support.” 

Here at RAMS, we’re incredibly proud of the commitment and flexibility of our peer team as they rose to the occasion to serve a highly vulnerable population. And we’re not the only ones. Last December, the Mental Health Services Act (responsible for many innovative mental health programs), acknowledged the team’s hard work by awarding them the Team of the Year award.