New York City Voices: Spring 2006
By David Gourdine
Published: April 8, 2006

Formed in 2004, the Alliance Empowerment Coalition (aka the Coalition) is a New York State association of the Empowerment Center, Inc. and the Mental Patients Liberation Alliance. The Coalition—which has had more than 45 years of experience in pioneering initiatives in the State—is an innovative and ambitious umbrella organization that is dedicated to the recovery of mental health through the development of both self-help goals and holistic, person-centered systems of local care.

In concert with the New York State Office of Mental Health, the Coalition collaborates both statewide and nationally via traditional mental health providers and natural, non-psychiatric-based community supports in a broad and inclusive manner. By engaging in self-help directives and by reducing any and all discrimination related to mental health concerns, the Coalition has created a state-wide network of groups and currently provides a wealth of trainings in fields such as Personal Training, Program Development, and Business Augmentation.

Through the strategic deployment of Regional Coordinators, Recovery Agents, and Peer Advocates, the Coalition also works in tandem with OMH Recipient Affairs Specialists in order to provide technical assistance regarding community reintegration, self-advocacy, and non-confrontational grievance resolution. By exposing both individuals and groups to a number of issues as to what constitutes recovery and wellness, the Coalition constantly spreads the knowledge that any given person's recovery is both obtainable and possible.

Other primary goals and objectives of the Coalition include the following: a 24/7 support line, a thorough, community-integrated resource database, and trainings based on self-identified, tailored needs and requests that are determined by peer-run organizations.

The Coalition maintains the philosophy that the definition of recovery varies from person to person and that self-help activities are an essential component of both goal-setting and strategic planning.

One indication of the Coalition's growing grassroots influence was the recent cross-pollination expo held in September 2005 at the Nevele Grande resort in Ellenville, New York. Over 62 people from 33 organizations participated in what many people considered to have been a rousing success. The Mental Patients Liberation Alliance and The Empowerment Center's in partnership sponsorship the expo enabled participants to promote their own objectives and respective missions via face-to-face networking among their own organizations.

As always, the Coalition welcomes constructive feedback and support from all concerned parties nationwide that value and cherish self-advocacy across all domains of daily living.

For more information, please call 1-877-HELP-800 or The Empowerment Center's Mount Vernon, New York office at (914) 699-5036.  We look forward to hearing from you!