RAMS Peer Wellness Center Celebrates Eight Years of Peer Empowerment

Founded on March 11, 2016 at 1282 Market St., the Peer Wellness Center brings together creativity, connection and community. This March, we proudly celebrate eight years of providing peer-led activities and resources that empower the diverse San Francisco community.

The Peer Wellness Center serves as a safe place where members can gain valuable skills through empathy and peer support that helps promote and inspire achievement of overall personal wellness. In addition, the Center is a resource hub for members to obtain information for supportive services and linkages to a variety of behavioral health and primary health resources and services in San Francisco.

Mandala Wall:

The Mandala Wall is just one of many art installations that continue to grow as members and staff continue to design and color their own mandalas.

Rainbow Connection:

After members sign in, they walk along the rainbow to attend their groups, to create art, to play games, or to simply connect with one another. The Rainbow Hall (initially an installation for LGBTQIA+ Pride Month) has since evolved into a dynamic art exhibit.

Cafe Chica & The Best View of the Galaxy:

At Cafe Chica, members not only get a chance to hang out — they also get a glimpse of the best view of the Galaxy! The members designed their own worlds and put them together in a galaxy of unity that everyone can be a part of and no one is left behind.

Women’s History & Empowerment Month:

Every month, the Peer Wellness Center transforms into a living exhibit to celebrate people’s past, present, and future. This year, in honor of Women’s History & Empowerment Month, the Peer Wellness Center highlights impactful women from around the world. See if you can spot the Women of San Francisco!

2023 iRAMS Award Recipients Announcement

Founded on RAMS’ core values – Inclusion, Impact, Insight, Integrity, and Innovation, iRAMS allows us to recognize our values in action. Since it’s launched in May 2023, we have received a total of 77 nominations (27 of which are inter-program nominations) from across 10 programs.

2023 Inclusion Award Winner:

Kim “KK” Kantere, Division of Peer-Based Services

KK, a RAMS team member since 2011, currently plays a pivotal role in the Peer Division’s Operations, showcasing a commitment to daily inclusion. His work touches all peer staff, interns and students. KK’s personal and work experience in almost every San Francisco neighborhood is the catalyst for his ability to connect and serve all staff and clients in a culturally congruent way.

Supervisor Feedback:

“KK’s welcoming demeanor and institutional knowledge makes KK the perfect staff to assist new and experienced staff, interns and students. You also witness them asking KK for guidance about a particular situation or just as a sounding board for their issue.  KK truly cares, listens and shows compassion to everyone who walks through our door.”


2023 Impact Award Winner:

Nancy Esteva, Division of Peer-Based Services

 

Nancy, in her role as Lead Empowerment Service Coordinator at RAMS for almost 10 years, played a pivotal role in expanding peer-based services, facilitating vital peer support services in Spanish and English to address community needs. Nancy Esteva’s impact is evident in both the services she provides and the positive relationships she cultivates within the community and among peers.

Supervisor Feedback:

“Nancy has continued to receive positive praise and outstanding letters of recommendation over the years from providers in the community, who have also spoken to her dedication and passion for serving underserved communities, and breadth of peer counseling and advocacy skills, including with providing culturally responsive services to Spanish-speaking clients and empowering those she works with.”


2023 Insight Award Winner:

Jason Suchecki, Hire-Ability Vocational Services

Jason demonstrates profound knowledge in supporting vocational rehabilitation program participants and empowering them to navigate through their struggles, fostering resilience. His dual perspective, combining clinical expertise with a relatable approach, contributes significantly to the success and well-being of those he supports in the vocational rehabilitation program.

Supervisor Feedback:

“There are many participants that struggle with different challenges and Jason’s insight on how they’re adjusting at their work site is helpful in determining what their immediate needs are.  Jason provides encouragement and empowers the participants to continue working through their struggles. A few of our participants that have successfully completed the program has expressed high gratitude for have Jason as their case manager.”


2023 Integrity Award Winner:

Vivian Vong, CAAP Counseling & Pre-Vocational Services

 

Vivian is a principled and transparent leader who upholds fairness, equity, and reasonable expectations for her staff across various programs by comprehending their functions and challenges. She advocates for clients, troubleshoots with funders, and remains accountable, delivering on promises and promoting ethical principles in client services.

Supervisor Feedback:

“Vivian would not make her staff do anything that she would not put herself in. She has worked in (or has full understanding of) almost all positions in the department to understand the functions and challenges, so that she could support her staff in their positions. In the same way, she also holds her staff accountable to perform according to job expectations. She never takes ‘favoritism’ of staff over another.”


2023 Innovation Award Winner:

Priscilla Kyu, Administration

Priscilla, with over 10 years of dedicated service in five different programs, actively reimagines workflows, creatively problem solves, and handles multiple Salesforce projects with enthusiasm. As attested by her direct supervisor, Priscilla’s talents shine through, ensuring projects are well-managed while maintaining a positive and collaborative “can do” attitude that resonates well with everyone she engages.

Supervisor Feedback:

“Priscilla is deeply committed to serving diverse, low-income, and marginalized communities and it shows in how she wholeheartedly puts herself into the work, thinking “out of the box” and doing her best. She shows up! Many staff acknowledge how Priscilla has made a positive impact on their program. She is comprehensive and thorough, supportive and approachable, and is a champion for client services and staff initiatives.”

RAMS Newest Program: BEST Neighborhoods

group shot of BEST Neighborhoods team

BEST Neighborhoods (Bridge and Engagement Services Team Neighborhoods) is a collaboration between RAMS, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and other community partners that provides street-based behavioral health care throughout the city, one neighborhood at a time. With carefully created care plans, strong multi-disciplinary teams, street-based medical and psychiatric resources, and the support of other agencies and City departments, we seek to quickly improve the health and quality of life of people experiencing homelessness and living with chronic mental health conditions.

RAMS joined the BEST Neighborhoods program in Aug. 2023 with a team of Peer Counselors who use the combination of their training, lived experience, and knowledge of the system of care to provide street-based care, referrals, and linkage to mental health treatment, medical care, substance use services, and shelter/housing. The team currently operates six days/week, 8am-6pm, with an eye toward increasing to seven days/week in 2024. RAMS BEST Neighborhoods will also expand to include a clinical behavioral health team in early 2024 to most effectively offer assessment, treatment, and care coordination for clients in the field.

The BEST Neighborhoods team frequently provides follow-up care for clients encountered by the Street Crisis Response Team, also staffed by RAMS Peer Counselors. We are grateful to play a key role in the City and County of San Francisco’s mental health reform efforts.The BEST Neighborhoods program’s origins and strong impact so far have been covered by the San Francisco Chronicle’s ‘Fixing Our City’ podcast series. You can read and listen more about it here, from April 25, 2023.

RAMS Peer Transition Team Receives 2023 MHSA Team of the Year Award

The RAMS Peer Transition Team is a five year Mental Health Services Act Innovation Project that launched in 2019. With a team of up to seven advanced-level Peer Counselors, the project has been providing vital peer support in the field to support clients in graduating from Intensive Case Management programs across the San Francisco Behavioral Health System of Care. This year the program was recognized for this amazing work!

Our RAMS Peer Transition Team, from left to right: Ansar Muhammad, Peer Counselor; Greg Broyles, Lead Peer Counselor & Co-Founder; Nancy Esteva, Lead Empowerment Service Coordinator; Mick Robinson, Peer Counselor & Co-Founder; Qiyanna Love, Community Partnerships Manager & Co-Founder. Not pictured: Gavin Young, Service Coordinator at Chinatown/North Beach MH; Moinnette Harris, WITS Peer Counselor; Mike Donofrio, Lead WITS Peer Counselor.

Examples of the peer support provided include accompanying clients to provider appointments, supporting case management, providing peer counseling using the team’s lived experiences with mental health and/or substance use recovery, and linking clients to resources that can help stabilize them in the community.

Since its launch, the project has received over 130 client referrals. Over 80 clients have exited the project and there is a 64% success rate of clients moving into an outpatient level of care. This is a 400% increase from the previous data that showed a 16% rate!

Contributed by: Qiyanna Love, Community Partnerships Manager, Division of Peer-Based Services

RAMS Announces Appointment of New Chief Executive Officer

To the RAMS Staff and Community,

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Angela Tang, MSW, LCSW, as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Richmond Area Multi-services (RAMS). Ms. Tang will begin her official capacity on September 1, 2023. The Board unanimously selected Ms. Tang as the candidate to lead and represent RAMS, a leading community provider of culturally competent and culturally responsive mental and behavioral health services, training, and program innovation. In making its decision, the Board considered the need for RAMS in the coming years to navigate the changes in mental health care funding and delivery. Ms. Tang is uniquely qualified not only to guide RAMS in this process but also to propose and define policy at the local, state and federal levels. In her role of elevating RAMS’s visibility and influence, Ms. Tang shall continue enabling RAMS to create, fund and implement programs that reflect our expertise and values especially as it relates to providing culturally responsive care.

During her nearly two decades of service at RAMS, Ms. Tang has proven her commitment to the Mission and Vision of the organization, and to the well-being and professional development of RAMS staff. Her experience includes being on the Leadership Team and has been creative & strategic through having fostered innovative and culturally responsive programs while building the infrastructure for operational excellence, quality improvement, sustainability, and scalability. Today, RAMS has continuously achieved outstanding external reviews by funders and is recognized as a highly reputable mental health services provider in the San Francisco Bay Area. Moreover, Ms. Tang is an inclusive and values-oriented leader and communicator that cultivates meaningful staff engagement strategies.

In serving the community, Ms. Tang draws from her personal experience of being a native San Franciscan and a daughter of Chinese immigrants who faced multiple barriers relating to race, language, and financial hardships. She has a Masters of Social Work (Administration) from Columbia University, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, as well as certified in Healthcare Compliance and Lean Six Sigma. Since starting at RAMS as the agency’s Operations Manager in 2004, she has since been the Director of Operations, Interim Co-Leader for 14 months during the COVID Health Emergency, and more recently, the Chief Operating Officer serving as a principal strategist of the daily agency operations. Ms. Tang has extensive experience representing RAMS with funders, community leaders, and local and nationwide coalitions, as well as leading contract negotiations and the modernization of RAMS infrastructure.

The RAMS Board of Directors wishes to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to outgoing RAMS President & CEO JayVon Muhammad, who led RAMS through exciting phases and expansions over the past 2.5 years, with new and diverse programming developments, acquisition of $6.5 million in funding for a new permanent building, as well as RAMS being named as Nonprofit Of The Year by Assemblymember Ting in 2022. The RAMS Board of Directors has been honored and humbled to work with Ms. Muhammad. Her leadership as well as her kindness, enthusiasm, and passion for social justice and equity, will be greatly missed. From Ms. Muhammad: “It has been a great privilege to serve as the CEO of RAMS, an organization that truly cares for the communities being served. In a social media post, a friend wrote the following message to me “(JayVon Muhammad) the Black Liberation Mary Poppins. Stay ready…she might be floating to a neighborhood near you”. That being said, I came to RAMS with a purpose and that purpose has come to an end. It is now time for me to float on to my next work, leaving you in the well-qualified and caring hands of Angela Tang. I cannot wait to see what comes next for RAMS.”

As RAMS continues to aspire to new heights and milestones while being the standard-bearer for excellence in culturally responsive care, please join us in welcoming Angela Tang in her new role as President & CEO. The Board looks forward to her exemplary leadership and continued years of service at RAMS.

On Behalf of the Board of Directors,

Patty Rodriquez, Board Chair

RAMS Honors Mental Health Awareness Month

With Asian and Pacific American Mental Health Day and Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the past few months have been full of RAMS events!

  • April 13 – Connecting virtually, RAMS was invited to present at an International Conference on Recovery (Mindset College Recovery Conference in Hong Kong)
  • May 10 – RAMS organized and hosted the first Breaking Barriers Forum
  • May 18 – RAMS was part of a Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Summit panel with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI SF)
  • May 19 – RAMS Peer Internship held its graduation ceremony
  • May 24 – RAMS Hire-Ability held their direct client services staff retreat
  • May 24 – RAMS was part of the Panel on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Mental Health at the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women

 

RAMS Peer Internship Graduation Ceremony

 

RAMS Breaking Barriers Forum Video

 

 

ANNOUNCING THE DEPARTURE OF RAMS PRESIDENT AND CEO JAYVON MUHAMMAD

With sadness and deep gratitude, the RAMS Board of Directors is formally announcing the departure of JayVon Muhammad, President and Chief Executive Officer of RAMS. Her last day will be on August 31, 2023.

Ms. Muhammad joined RAMS at an unprecedented time, in unprecedented circumstances. She was appointed on March 8, 2021, to lead RAMS into its next phase, a year into the COVID lockdowns. Ms. Muhammad came to RAMS after serving as Chief Executive Officer of SWLA Center for Health Services in Lake Charles, Louisiana. A San Francisco native, Ms. Muhammad had already paved her path as an inspiring, equity-centered professional with more than 20 years of healthcare and community leadership experience in the Bay Area and Louisiana. In the words of former RAMS Board Chair Cynthia Huie, “Her expertise in designing and overseeing equity-based clinical programs in underrepresented communities, as well as her passion and energy for innovation and partnership, will help RAMS build upon our record of accomplishment as we continue to address the compounding COVID-19 and mental health crises in San Francisco.”

Under Ms. Muhammad’s leadership, RAMS expanded its scope of services to include new and diverse programming including EMBRACE, which provides perinatal mental health services for Black Families, in partnership with the University of California San Francisco, SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH), and Southeast Health Center. Ms. Muhammad also initiated the Unity Road Trip, a program where Chinese American and African American youth girls travel on a month-long road trip across 16 states learning critical historical and cultural information about their lineage, histories, and contributions to the United States. Through this journey, these young leaders gain knowledge, relationships, and skills to educate, build unity, and heal their communities. Other significant initiatives include creating The Living Room, a crucial welcoming piece of the Tenderloin Linkage Center which was a temporary SFDPH site to reduce overdose deaths and increase connections to supportive services, The Lotus Project, a partnership with Public Health Institute to provide training on trauma care to Asian American & Asian Immigrant communities, expanding the RAMS leadership team to include the Director of Community & Workforce Empowerment and the Director of Community Engagement & Government Affairs, and being instrumental in RAMS’ opportunity to secure $6.5 million in funding towards the acquisition of a new building for a permanent program site in the San Francisco Richmond District. Under Ms. Muhammad’s leadership, RAMS was also chosen as Nonprofit of The Year by Assemblymember Philip Ting to represent his District.

The RAMS Board of Directors was honored and humbled to work with Ms. Muhammad. Her leadership as well as her kindness, enthusiasm, and passion for social justice and equity, will be greatly missed.

Over the next few months, the Board will be working closely with Ms. Muhammad to ensure a smooth transition.

With appreciation,

Patricia Rodriquez
Chair, RAMS Board of Directors

RAMS earned its CARF Accreditation with a Perfect Score!

Every three years, RAMS and its Hire-Ability Employment Services program must be evaluated by the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), which assesses and accredits over 60,000 behavioral health, employment, and other community services across the globe. CARF assesses programs for roughly 20 factors including cultural competence, financial management, program management, health and safety, and others. 

We are proud to announce that, last week, CARF awarded us a perfect score! RAMS is among the top 1-2% of CARF-accredited programs to achieve this in the world. Not only is achieving a perfect score on this prestigious assessment unheard of, this is actually the second time that we have achieved this during the last five CARF reviews!

Through numerous interviews with employees, community partners, and program participants, CARF reported that:

  • Community partners said that the RAMS team is “supportive, empowering, impactful, diverse, [compassionate], responsive, flexible.” 
  • “The organization is truly participant driven.”
  • Clients reported that “their dreams desires, and rights are respected by staff” and “RAMS Hire-Ability has the most caring staff that any organization can have”

We are incredibly proud of our team for how they imbue their work with dedication and compassion. 

CARF Accreditation

RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services Employment Services program will be undergoing reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the most prestigious international accreditation for rehabilitation programs on December 5th & 6th 2022. RAMS has successfully reached the highest level of accreditation of three years consistently for the last 15 years. We look forward to a successful survey visit and re-accreditation.