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Out & About: Mental Health America focuses on art, change

November 20, 2018

Every chair at the Mental Health America of Southwestern PA 55th Annual Dinner Meeting held a watercolor paint set.

The art supplies had a double purpose, said Executive Director Laurie Barnett Levine at the Oct. 25 event in the Ramada by Wyndham Greensburg Hotel and Conference Center.

First, they signified MHA-SWPA’s new Art Cellar, a studio that will house art programs for people with mental health and substance use issues being developed in collaboration with the Seton Hill University art therapy program.

Second, they memorialized Demetre Josebeck, founder of Art for Recovery and Transformation, who lost his own battle with substance use July 4.

The dinner also is a platform for announcing the recipient of the annual Fred Funari Mental Health America Award of Distinction, this year going to Joan Stairs.

A retired educator, Stairs is a member of the MHA-SWPA board of directors and special events committee. She serves many other community organizations, including the Greensburg Garden Club, Excela Westmoreland Hospital Auxiliary, Westmoreland Symphony and Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

Her green thumb and artistic talents also were displayed in the dinner decorations on each table, featuring a wide array of pumpkins which she grew and arranged.

Keynote speaker was Dr. James Schuster, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who also serves in various capacities with the UPMC Insurance Services Division.

Seen: Josie Funari, Jess Stairs, Joanna Stillwagon, Ken and Molly Robb Shimko, Jo Ellen Numerick, Rachel and Ryan Ravis, Toni Antonucci, Mike and Deborah Wasilchak, Calvin and Dr. Lisa Isaac, Al and Sally Ann Novak, Dick and Barbara Flock, Liz Zalich, Nicholas Cerkovnik, Chuck and Sharon Deluzio, Tim Phillips, Christine Vitale and Judges Christopher Feliciani, Michele Bononi and Anthony Marsili.

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