South Shore Mental Health
Winter 2008 Publication
A Story of Step One Early Intervention
O n Good Friday seven years ago Emma was born into a loving family. She was her mom
and dad’s first child, as well as the first grandchild in the family.
The pregnancy had gone well, and everyone was expecting a healthy baby.
Unfortunately, the doctors noticed a problem immediately after birth. Emma was
described as being “floppy,” and she had difficulty sucking, swallowing, and breathing.
Her mom and dad saw her briefly before she was rushed to the neonatal intensive care
At Day 2 of life, the neurologist diagnosed Emma with Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, a
rare form of muscular dystrophy. Emma remained in the NICU for 12 days and her mom
and dad never left the hospital. From the beginning they began to learn how to care for
Emma and her special needs.
Emma’s Journey (cont.)
After Emma had been home a few months, the family enrolled her in the Step One
Early Intervention Program, which specializes in evaluating and serving infants
and children up to three years of age who display signs of becoming "at risk" for
developmental delay. The program helps parents to recognize and understand their
child's particular developmental needs, and suggests ways to help their child grow.
Because of her diagnosis, Emma needed to be taught many things that most babies
learn naturally. Emma’s parents and Carol, a Step One occupational therapist
Emma 3 days old on Easter Sunday
and case manager, teamed up to figure out the best way to support Emma’s
development. “Carol would come to our home and suggest how we could approach addressing Emma’s varying
delays. We really worked together,” remembers Emma’s mom.
The family would practice the techniques with Emma and share their successes
with Carol at the following week’s home visit. Emma gradually learned how
to turn her head, how to roll over, how to crawl, and eventually, how to walk.
When Emma was 12 months old, her mother took her to a baby group at Step
One. Emma’s parents remember how difficult it was at the beginning as they
saw other babies starting to crawl and pull-to-stand in order to walk, while
Emma was not yet able to sit up on her own. Doctors had prepared Emma’s
family with the possibility that she may never be able to walk independently,
but when she was 17 months old Emma started walking. This was truly a mir-
acle in her parents’ eyes. Carol working with Emma
“Carol was fabulous. She listened, and helped Emma reach her developmental milestones. She made sure
Emma received all of the services Step One offers to its families,” recalls Emma’s mom. “She helped us
through a very difficult and emotional period of our lives.”
When Emma turned 3 years old, she graduated from the Step One Early Intervention
Program. Emma was ready to attend an integrated preschool program at her local public
school, and she continued to receive occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech
therapy. Emma’s parents were determined to continue to expose Emma to the real world.
They read to Emma constantly, which eventually led to her love of books. Their motto
became “Have baby, will travel,” so there were family trips to Hilton Head, SC, Park City,
UT and Orlando, FL, as well as throughout New England and the Northeast. For
developmental and social reasons, Emma’s parents enrolled her in swimming lessons, ballet
and horseback riding lessons.
Emma celebrating her 3rd Currently, Emma is in 1st grade. Most children with her diagnosis do not
birthday at Step One learn to read, but Emma is reading at grade level - another miracle. She
continues to make progress in her integrated classroom, as well as with the
occupational, physical, and speech therapies included in her individual
education plan (IEP).
Emma continues to enjoy swimming and ballet, but
horseback riding is her true passion. She is learning to
post, to ride in half seat and to independently mount
and steer her pony. Hilton Head, S.C.
While she still has some developmental delays, Emma’s social and
communication skills are healthy and she has blossomed into a
beautiful, happy and energetic child.
Riding Pebbles 2007
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Emma’s Journey (cont.)
Emma was recently named the
Muscular Dystrophy Association’s
2008 Massachusetts Goodwill
Ambassador. She attends charity
events around the state to help raise
money for the MDA so they can fund
research and provide information and
resources to families afflicted with
MDA 2008 Emma with the Mascots
of the Celtics, Bruins and
MDA also supports Camp Florian in
New England Patriots
Canton, Massachusetts which Emma
has attended the past two summers. “2007 Camp Florian Motorcycle Night”
During “the best week of the year”
Emma enjoys canoeing, horseback riding, swimming, riding in a Harley Davidson
sidecar and developing friendships with other campers and the Camp Florian staff.
Emma continues to amaze her family, her teachers and her doctors with her
enthusiasm, her humor and her drive to succeed.
Step One Early Intervention staff and families work miracles all the time.
Thousands of children and their families have received Step One’s services.
Children graduate from the program and go on to lead happy, productive and
successful lives - just like Emma!
2007 Ballet Recital Thanks to Emma’s Mother and Father for sharing their story!
From The President
S outh Shore Mental Health will soon realize its dream of providing a campus for
the children and families of Step One Early Intervention. To create this campus,
South Shore Mental Health is renovating the Mollie Hirshberg and Hilda
Mahoney Learning Centers and developing an outdoor play area all located at
building Moon Island Road in Quincy. Step One, with this dedicated campus, will be able
to increase the number of children and families receiving early intervention and
group services, and to improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
Children will choose activities, play, and interact with peers in the four new classrooms in the
blocks expanded space. Infants with special needs will participate in new specialized services such as
infant massage and a parent-child feeding group. Children with motor delays will enjoy our
The Jumpin and Jammin Music Room is an exciting new addition. Music stimulates all of the
senses and facilitates developmental skills. Music therapy addresses physical, psychological,
to cognitive, and behavioral functioning. The state-of-the-art indoor Movin and Groovin play area
we are constructing is specifically designed for toddlers to exercise and interact with other children.
the The children also will be active in the indoor activity center with a sandbox, play equipment and
Additionally, family members will have access to the family resource and training rooms.
future Families will have many opportunities to learn skills for teaching their children and to exchange
ideas with other parents.
With all programs and services on one campus, staff will be able to devote more time to educating
the children. We will be able to use our resources more effectively by eliminating travel time
between existing distant locations.
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From the President (cont.)
The children and families will experience a warm and inviting environment as a result of the extensive renovations adapting
the campus to the needs of young children. We also are making major changes to meet modern codes for plumbing, heating
and air conditioning.
Our goal is to celebrate the opening of the new campus by September 2008,
and your contribution will help our dream come true!
Sandra Slavet New Chairperson of South Shore South Shore Mental Health Welcomes New
Mental Health Board of Directors Board Member
Sandy Slavet has been elected by Janet Kelly is a senior
members of the board as the new executive at the Kessler
Chairperson at its Annual Meeting Group managing their
held this past June. Ms. Slavet is Boston marketing operations
the director of the Disabilities business as well as their San
Resource Network of Jewish Francisco-based creative
Family & Children's Service agency. She comes to the
where she provides information South Shore Mental Health
and referral services for individuals with disabilities and Board with over 20 years of progressive marketing
their families. In addition, she is a nationally certified experience within the financial services industry, specializing
ASL Interpreter in private practice. Ms. Slavet currently in corporate, agency and consulting environments. Ms.
serves as the Vice Chairperson of the Town of Randolph Kelly possesses strong strategic leadership, communication,
Disabilities Commission. She is the immediate and relationship skills with demonstrated experience in
President of Temple Beth David of the South Shore and managing and growing profitable organizations. Her
past President of the Randolph Special Education Parent ability to promote ideas and proposals persuasively and
Advisory Counsel. Ms. Slavet has a Bachelor of Science shape stakeholder opinions has enabled her to maintain
Degree in Health Education and Master's degree in Early a track record of successfully developing and implementing
Childhood Education. sourcing and supplier management strategies that result in
significant and repeatable cost savings for Kessler clients.
She lives in Randolph with her husband, Joe Strazzulla
and her youngest daughter, Marie. She has 3 older
daughters who make their homes in Buffalo, NY,
Charleston, SC and San Diego, CA.
Dr. Lani Nicholson Honored with Exemplary Psychiatrist Award
Dr. Nicholson was one of 20 recipients from around the United States and one of two from
Massachusetts to be presented with the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on
Mental Illness (NAMI). To be considered for this award an individual must have set an example for his
or her professional colleagues. NAMI members and affiliates honor publicly the wonderful contributions
that many psychiatrist make to improve the lives of people living with psychiatric disorders.
Kathy Sinar Receives Excellence in Program Leadership Award
Kathleen Sinar, R.N.C.S. received an Excellence in Program Leadership Award at the Mental Health &
Substance Abuse Corps. of Mass, Inc.’s Annual Provider Celebration on October 16, 2007. Ms. Sinar has
been a valued employee of South Shore Mental Health for 25 years, as a Nurse Clinician and Program
Manager. For the past twelve years she has worked as a Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist for our
Community Outpatient Services program.
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Employee Spotlight (Cont.)
Our colleague from Bayview Plymouth, Todd
Labreck, LICSW, was utilizing his social work
skills in Iraq and had been there for about a year.
Todd ran a clinic in a town called Taji. The clinic
supported over 40,000 US and coalition forces. Of
course, they had 1 psychiatrist, 1 social worker (Todd)
and 3 Psych techs. Large staff to support over
40,000! Todd has since returned, so please look for
the follow-up on all of his experiences.
Cell Phones for Soldiers
The Cell Phones for Soldiers program was started in April 2004 by
13-year-old Brittany Bergquist and her 12-year-old brother Robbie
of Norwell, Massachusetts.
Robbie and Brittany's goal is to help our soldiers serving overseas
call home. They hope to provide as many soldiers as possible with
prepaid calling cards. Through generous donations and the recycling
of used cell phones, Robbie and Brittany have already distributed
thousands of calling cards to soldiers around the globe.
Sue Lydon, Controller for South Shore Mental Health, collected
cell phones from employees and arranged for Robbie and Brittany
to visit the Administrative offices at 500 Victory Road, Quincy
Massachusetts on Wednesday, November 21, 2007. Brittany and
Robbie were presented with the donated cellphones by President
and CEO, Harry Shulman. Following that meeting on Monday, November 26, 2007, they appeared on ABC’s “The
View” and were both surprised with $100,000 scholarships each from corporate sponsor AT&T. It was their way of saying
thank you for all they’d done. They have also appeared on CBS’s Evening News with Katie Couric, The Tony Danza
Show and WGBH’s Greater Boston with Emily Rooney. They were also interviewed for Fox & Friends, NBC Nightly
News and were featured in Money Magazine, Teen People, Good Housekeeping, Teen Magazine and met with Donald
Robbie and Brittany founded Cell Phone for Soldiers with $21 of their own money. Since then, they have registered
as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has raised over $1 million in donations. Featured Sponsor AT&T has donated
more than $500,000 worth of prepaid phone cards to Cell Phones for Soldiers and is now offering all 1,800 company-
owned wireless store locations across the country as drop-off sites to help recycle used cell phones for the program,
through July 2008! Through increased fundraising efforts, the Bergquist family hopes to raise more than $9 million in the
next five years to fund new programs, such as providing video phones with prepaid service to allow soldiers serving
abroad to see their families on a regular basis.
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2007-2008 Senior Management
Board of Directors
Officers: Harry Shulman, MSW - President/CEO
CHAIRPERSON - Sandra Slavet Stephen Wojcik, MBA - Executive Vice President
VICE-CHAIRPERSON - George A.Rodriguez
Robert Gibson, LICSW - VP Crisis/Rehabilitation Services
PRESIDENT - Harry Shulman
TREASURER - Stephen Wojcik Minghui Johnson - VP Finance & Accounting
CLERK - Anna Marie McReynolds Kate Murphy, MA - VP Human Resources
Directors: Paul Shaw, LICSW - VP Outpatient Services
Thomas F. Collins, III Richard Reiner, MD - Medical Director
James F. Comerford
Paul G. Curtis
Lawrence K. Edwards
Janet L. Kelly If you would like to subscribe to this publication,
Richard Pierce please contact the editor:
Douglas J. Preveza Susan Baker (617) 847-1903
Mona Lee Rosen email: sbaker @ssmh.org
Valerie J. Semensi
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500 Victory Road
Quincy, MA 02171