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WNY vets to host concert event to honor mental health first responders

May 6, 2024 | Entertainment

They don’t wear capes, scale skyscrapers, or stop the planet from spinning. They do help people in crisis, any time of day or night, and any place they are needed.

These superheroes are mental health first responders, the crisis outreach workers who are often the first on the scene for any mental health emergency. Their lifesaving work will be honored at a special concert on Wednesday, May 22, at The Cave, 71 Military Road in Buffalo. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the music begins at 7 p.m. WNY Vets and Buffalo Music Vault – the organizers – invited some of the region’s best known musicians to perform that night including Gretchen Schulz, Bob James, Patti Parks, Dick Bauerle, Cathy Carfagna, Pat Shaunessy, Bob Kozak, Melissa Sauers, George Puleo, David Meinzer, Mr. Conrad and Scott Miklasz.   

Tickets are only $10 and are available pre-sale at https://tinyurl.com/3bym5atd and at the door.

Events like these raise awareness of these human services professionals who are specially trained to respond to crisis. “Our mobile outreach workers in our Emergency Mental Health Response Services department deliver critically-needed interventions to our community when a mental health crisis occurs,” said Jessica C. Pirro, President/CEO of Crisis Services. These responders are the best-of-the-best: they are compassionate, brave and dedicated. They run toward a crisis, not away from it!  Their work is heroic, every single day.”    

Attracting more people to this profession will help meet the growing need for compassionate and skilled clinicians for crisis outreach roles. “Some of the most important, lifesaving and life changing work you can do is crisis response,” said Cindy Voelker, President and CEO of Spectrum Health.

Throughout the evening, crisis outreach workers will tell their stories in short videos, too, to give a human face to this important and often unheralded work. “As a former Crisis Services outreach team member, this work changed my life,” said Bob James of WNY Vets. “Our May 22 event is a perfect call to action for my musician friends and music lovers to come together to celebrate these essential workers, support their music and educate the community.” 

Also at the event, Crisis Services and Spectrum Health’s Medication Assisted Treatment program teams will be on hard to share information. The Spectrum Health team will also provide free Narcan training and kits. A suicide prevention specialist from the WNY VA – an advisor to WNYVETS – will also be on-site. 

Proceeds will benefit Spectrum Health and Human Services’ C.A.R.E.S. program which responds to youth under age 18 and their families 24/7, and Crisis Services’ 24/7 crisis response.

Crisis Services provides immediate 24/7 response to individuals who face behavioral health challenges in addressing suicide, mental illness, addictions, domestic and sexual violence in Erie County.  Anyone can access support by calling the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 716-834-3131. Crisis Services is also the local responder to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in our region.

Spectrum Health and Human Services provides mental health, addiction, rehabilitation, care coordination, housing, and crisis services in locations throughout Western New York. Founded in 1973, it is also a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC). Visit www.shswny.org for more information. 

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