Buckelew Programs helps people with mental health, addiction and related behavioral health challenges. Clients are able to lead healthier and more independent lives, strengthening families and our communities in the process. As a past board member of Buckelew, I feel a proud and personal connection to this tremendous nonprofit that makes a powerful difference in the lives of so many in the North Bay.

Founded in 1970, Buckelew operated Marin County’s first 24-hour residential mental health treatment facility, providing supported housing for six adults. Since then, it has grown to help nearly 10,000 people each year in Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. It is now the North Bay’s largest provider of community-based mental health and support services and is a critical component of the area’s healthcare safety net.

It is easy to see why Katrin Ciaffa, an employee of Buckelew Programs for over 20 years, finds the work meaningful and rewarding. “Just literally this morning, I spoke with a mother who said Buckelew saved her daughter’s life,” said Ciaffa. “She told me her daughter is not just in recovery now but is even giving back to the community too.”

It is not just Ciaffa who feels passionate about what she does. Says Ciaffa, “Everybody here is really dedicated. It is wonderful to work for an organization that makes such a difference in the lives of so many, giving people with mental health or substance use disorders hope and the tools to live a full, healthy life.”

Buckelew tailors treatment and support services to the unique needs of each individual and encourages the active collaboration of loved ones and other supporters. It has found that its approach of focusing on the needs of the whole person promote recovery, resilience and hope. To help clients access a continuum of care for these often multiple, interrelated needs, Buckelew substantially increased its scope of services and capabilities by joining with the Helen Vine Recovery Center (2011) and the Family Service Agency of Marin (2012), now called Buckelew Counseling Services.

While a Board member, I watched first-hand the then-Family Service Agency of Marin’s program making a difference one family at a time. From behind a one-way mirror, a psychologist watched a young father play with his toddler-age daughter (the father had consented in advance to my silent visit behind the mirror). The psychologist gave real-time parenting instruction into a microphone connected to the father’s earpiece. The mother had been serving time in prison for substance abuse-related issues and he was the sole parent and had no appreciable parenting experience at all. Not only was this a truly moving experience, but I will always remember how genuinely appreciative the father was for the psychologist’s care, insights and advice.

Today, Buckelew provides a wide range of services for both adults and children, including counseling programs for all ages; detox and drug and alcohol addiction treatment, especially for those with commonly co-occurring mental health issues; assistance for families experiencing difficulties due to mental health or substance-abuse related circumstances; a regional suicide prevention program; and for adults with mental illness, employment programs and housing with support services tailored to each individual’s needs. The organization currently has a staff of nearly 200 with an annual budget of approximately $12 million.

MarinScapes, Buckelew Programs’ annual signature fundraiser, celebrates art that changes lives. The 31st annual four-day fine art exhibit and sale runs from June 20 to 23 at the historic Escalle Winery in Larkspur. The renowned Seager/Gray Gallery of Mill Valley is curating a special exhibit entitled, “The Invented Landscape.” Many of Marin’s favorite landscape artists will also be featured.

For more information on MarinScapes, including sponsorship opportunities, or to donate to Buckelew Programs, you can contact Katrin Ciaffa at (415) 491-5705 or katrinc@buckelew.org, or go to www.buckelew.org.