Seasons Greetings from AWARE,
As the end of the year draws near, I’d like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to each of you.
To our employees: Thank you for choosing to be on our team and for your continued commitment to the work we do. You are making a difference every day!
To the people we serve: Thank you for trusting us to be a part of your lives to support you in reaching your goals. You inspire and motivate us, and it is our honor to work with you.
To our donors and volunteers: Thank you for believing in the work we do. It takes a team and every single one of you is an important player in bringing our mission to life.
2022 has been a bustling and rewarding year…
We launched our FACT program and have already provided a wrap-around approach to care to hundreds of children and their families across the state.
We have grown our case management services, allowing us to serve more people.
We transitioned the Center for Excellence to a private school to better meet the educational needs of the kids in our care.
We trained clinicians in and have started offering Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy, the only organization in the state to offer this unique and evidence-based therapy.
We celebrated our first ever “AWARE Day” in April, an idea that came directly from a valued employee.
After a hiatus due to COVID, we brought back our golf tournament where we successfully made new friends and raised some much-needed funds to support our services.
AWARE proudly hosted our inaugural Clinical Leadership Summit, a professional development opportunity that was open to the public and received glowing reviews from those who attended.
And finally, we recently received notification of our successful accreditation through CARF for an additional three years.
This list falls short of listing all the incredible successes we saw across our service lines in 2022. To provide a complete list would require several more pages. I encourage you to read our Annual Report to learn more about the incredible accomplishments our team has made.
While 2022 was exciting it wasn’t without its challenges. We continue to fight an uphill battle with the workforce crisis, yet we remain steadfast in our efforts to think outside the box to recruit dedicated team members and retain the excellent people we have. Amongst other things, including enhanced employee wellness benefits, in 2022 we implemented multiple wage increases simply because we believe in the work we are doing and recognize what must be done to maintain a viable workforce. Unfortunately, a challenge we face is the reality that we cannot sustain these wage increases and investment in mental health services for Montana without adequate funding from the state.
Mental health needs are at an all-time high in Montana. I am proud of our organization for stepping up to meet the needs of our neighbors. It isn’t always easy. We take on and stick with the hardest challenges, but we need your help. Governor Gianforte requested a rate study of the behavioral health system (serving people with mental illness, substance use issues and/or intellectual or developmental disabilities). The findings of the study demonstrate the urgent need for enhanced funding.
In collaboration with the Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana, AWARE is asking that the recommendations of the Governor’s study be fully implemented, including an annual cost of living adjustment, to keep the community-based behavioral health system of care intact. Please call and/or email the governor and your representatives and ask them to support this investment in mental health.
Without adequate funding, our system of care will collapse and ultimately cost the state more. We need your advocacy now more than ever.
2023 is on the horizon, and our mission to help people live independent lives will continue to guide us each day. It is easy to get ahead of ourselves with the emotions that the season and looming new year bring, so I encourage you to take pause to reflect and be present in the moment, making the most of this holiday season in whatever way is meaningful to you.
I wish all the blessings to you during this holiday season.
Matt Bugni – CEO