Artistic Masterpieces

What a great time we had today (11 people came out to participate) doing the painting activity under the direction of Jeanne Rayphand (who also donated the acrylic paint and brought her own brushes for us to use).

We have some really talented people displaying some amazing artwork. I only wish I had brought my camera. We had people do paintings of boats, flowers, beach scenes, etc. Mine was the worst (seriously). We also had several people (including our severe clients) paint 3-5 paintings within the 1 hour 30 minute period at the Clubhouse.

Thanks again Jeanne for donating your supplies, your talent, and your time. And thank you to all who came out to participate!

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/24/2007 11:34:00 PM 0 comments  

Sat. Feb. 24th 9-11am - Painting Activity!

CAMI-CNMI volunteers and mental health consumers, this Sat. Feb. 24th from 9am-11:00am at the Clubhouse (BenCam Building behind Mobil gas station on Middle Road), Jeanne Rayphand will show us how much fun painting can be. Bring your yourself and a friend. CAMI will take care of the supplies (thanks Kaye). See everyone then. Thank you Jeanne for sharing your talent with us.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/21/2007 05:59:00 PM 0 comments  

Photos of CAMI-CNMI at First Floral Shop

The First Floral Shop

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/12/2007 04:55:00 PM 0 comments  

First Floral Shop in Garapan: A Double Dose of Goodness!

Saipan Tribune, First Floral Shop: A Double Dose of Goodness!

Rita Cruz is a quiet, unassuming woman. Beneath her calm demeanor beats the heart of a giving person. Rita is the owner of The First Floral Shop (in Garapan). Every year, around Valentine's Day, her shop works overtime to fulfill the orders and calls for everything from a single rose to elaborate floral arrangements.

First opened on June 15, 1981 (over 25 years ago), First Floral is truly unique in that it is one of the few locally owned businesses surviving and thriving in a down economy. When asked how she started her business, Rita thought carefully and recounted the story of her supervisor giving her flowers during Secretary Week. "My boss gave me flowers and I cried." That's what motivated her to open a floral shop - to be able to share that same great feeling when people receive flowers.

"I pioneered all these flower deliveries here on Saipan. Before that nobody delivered," she added.

Starting any business is scary, but starting one with little or no business background is terrifying. Rita learned on-the-job. It's all about the visual presentation, creativity, and imagination according to Rita.

"It's hard work. You always have to be on top of things -- the details."

Watching Rita work is like watching an artist. When she touched the flowers, she's able to bring them to life!

For Valentine's 2007, Rita and First Floral decided to try something very different...something special. She trained and hired mental health consumers to work in her shop. With six full-time staff members, Rita recruited six more (3 of whom are mental health consumers) to help handle the increased workload during Valentine's Day.

On Sunday, February 11, 2007, First Floral helped to break the stigmas of mental illness by inviting eight mental health consumers and their family members to its shop for a "crash-course" training on floral arrangement. Rita and her fantastic staff spent three hours training, reviewing, and critiquing each of the neatly, knotted bows and the single rose arrangements. They gave pointers and helped the mental health consumers to understand the art and science of floral arrangement. "By turning it a little bit, you can tell and find its best angle," she explained.

Rita spent almost one hour delicately arranging the roses while teaching the group. She took great pride is sharing with us that First Floral only uses flowers and roses directly from the U.S. "You can tell," she commented, referring to the subpar qualities of flowers from other countries.

The idea of a transitional and meaningful employment for the mental health consumers came from Kaye Christian as she works tirelessly to advocate for the rights of the mentally ill. Kaye started by asking Rita to help consumers learn how to make bows for Christmas wreaths.

Thanks to two wonderful women, Rita Cruz (owner of First Floral) and Kaye Christian (co-founder of CAMI-CNMI), mental health consumers started their paid jobs this week. Starting on Monday February 12 through Wednesday, February 14, 2007, the Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI (CAMI-CNMI), encourages the Northern Marianas community to stop by First Floral in Garapan (670.233.7482 or email: to support our home-grown floral shop and at the same time support the mission of CAMI-CNMI to rid our islands of the stigmas of mental illness. By gainfully employing qualified and competent mental health consumers, businesses like First Floral serve to shatter those erroneous beliefs and fears about the mentally ill. So if you're planning on getting flowers for your loved ones, please help our cause by getting them from First Floral Shop.

"Not only are we the first...we're the finest!" proclaims Rita.

CAMI-CNMI applauds the efforts of the First Floral Shop because of its "double-dose-of-goodness" commitment to: (1) Hire from the Existing Pool of Local Workers, and (2) Partnering and sharing in CAMI-CNMI's goal of community service and eradicating the stigmas of mental illness from our islands.

CAMI-CNMI's Community Business Partner:
The First Floral Shop (located in Garapan)
ph: 670.233.7482

For more information on how to get involved in CAMI-CNMI:
Steve Nguyen, Behavior Specialist
Co-Founder, CAMI-CNMI

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/12/2007 04:52:00 PM 0 comments  

Passionate People

There are three kinds of people in the world - those who avoid things like it was the plague, those who complain about anything and everything, and those who do something about it. Just like their names, avoiders are great at one thing, avoiding. They avoid a challenge. They avoid difficult situations and they avoid responsibilities. Watching avoiders pretend to work is like watching vampires pretend to love the sun. It's just painful to see.

Like avoiders, complainers shirk responsibilities. Why? Because they spend more time complaining then actually working. For them the world is made up of a series of unfortunate events. Complainers see the glass half empty. In fact, sometimes they don't even see the water in the glass. At times, I wonder if they even see the glass at all.

Admittedly, I sometimes fall into the complainers group. I try not to get into that pattern of thinking, but I sometimes fail. What often keeps me in line, motivated, and focused, however, are what I called "passionate people." Passionate people don't do their jobs because they get paid. They do their jobs because that thing that's inside them drives them to do what's right and to finish what they've started. Passionate people don't rest. They never rest because they're the ones who carry the loads left behind by the avoiders and complainers.

There is a handful of professionals here in Saipan that I consider passionate people. Kaye Christian, CAMI-CNMI Co-Founder and NMPASI Board Member, is one such individual. I count my lucky stars every time I have the pleasure of collaborating with her. When I'm swamped with work or discouraged by things, her passion to serve the mentally ill inspires me. Through her love for her volunteer work and in her passionate manner in carrying out her duties, she reminds me of what Gandhi once said:

We need to be the change we want to see happen.
We are the leaders we have been waiting for.

Thanks Kaye...for being who you are.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/11/2007 06:50:00 PM 0 comments  

CAMI-CNMI was glad to help out!

Angelo & Beautify CNMI, [also posted on Beautify CNMI]

On behalf of CAMI-CNMI, Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI, I would like to say thank for making our first volunteer project a great success. We appreciate you and the folks at Beautify CNMI for providing the trash bags, gloves, and donuts! What a beautiful day it was this morning to wake up and see just how gorgeous our island is. Sadly, when we saw the amount of trash (from cigarette butts, to broken glass, beer bottles, to a refrigerator, fans, microwaves, spare tires, and so many other things that should never be dumped on our beautify beaches or inside the bushes in the villages) we were saddened.

But seeing the bright, smiley faces of true volunteers who give of their time was inspiring. We met people like Juanita and her son Adam who regularly come on Saturdays to help keep our island clean. No one paid them. No one made them. They just wanted to help out. That, to me, is the truest meaning of service - to give and expect nothing in return, except for feeling good that you helped!

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Kaye Christian (CAMI-CNMI Co-Founder) and the staff members of TLC who assisted in transportaing our mental health consumers out to join us. Likewise, I also want to thank Amanda (from SIS), Tee & Dr. Abraham, and so many others who (due to time) we didn't get a chance to meet and chat with. Thank you all 77 volunteers for your help with 2,580 lbs. of trash and for working alongside our mental health consumers to rid our island of the stigmas of mental illness.

CAMI-CNMI looks forward to partnering with Beautify CNMI in the near future. Great fun, great company, and great service!

Steve Nguyen, CAMI-CNMI Co-Founder

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/10/2007 11:54:00 PM 0 comments  

Beautify CNMI Volunteer Project

Reminder: CAMI-CNMI will join Beautify CNMI to clean up our beach this Saturday, Feb. 10th. See below...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hopwood Junior High School Beach Cleanup
Meet at the small park south of PIC
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/08/2007 04:01:00 AM 2 comments  

Inside Outside: Building A Meaningful Life After The Hospital

Inside Outside is a movie of hope created by former patients and film-makers Pat Deegan, Ph.D. (who's also a Clinical Psychologist) and Terry Strecker. The film depicts the lives of eight people with very significant histories of institutionalization, as they transition from nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals into the community. In the spirit of the President’s New Freedom Initiative and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead Decision, the film carries the message that recovery and life in the community are possibilities even for people who are viewed as the most chronic or impaired. The film leaves audiences of professionals and people with psychiatric disabilities alike, cheering for these eight individuals as they make their journey from inside institutions to full community inclusion on the outside. Running Time: 50 minutes.

The 4 key stages that Dr. Deegan talks about are:

1) Inside Inside: "I'm inside the hospital" physically but also begin to believe it mentally.
2) Inside Outside: You get a glimpse of hope that even though you're inside physically, you begin to mentally believe that there's hope beyond the hospital walls.
3) Outside Inside: Once discharged from the hospital (you're now outside), you continue to trap yourself thinking like you were still inside because you were so used to people telling you when to eat, bathe, take your meds, and what to do and when to do things.
4) Outside Outside: The last stage where you regain your life back, physically, mentally, and emotionally!

I highly encourage everyone to watch this wonderful movie. You can get a VHS or DVD copy of the movie "Inside Outside: Building a Meaningful Life After the Hospital" for FREE! Simply contact SAMHSA directly at (800) 789-2647 or go to SAMHSA National Mental Information Center and look for:

Inside Outside: Building a Meaningful Life After the Hospital: DVD Version (NMH05-0199)
Inside Outside: Building a Meaningful Life After the Hospital: VHS Version (NMH05-0201)

Go watch this wonderful movie. We had about 9 people join us. Thanks everyone, especially Kaye for taking the time to prepare the movie and Maria for the refreshments afterwards.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/03/2007 11:21:00 AM 0 comments  

Inside Outside Video this Friday!

A few of us will be watching the video, "Inside Outside" this Friday Feb. 2, 2007 @ 6:30PM (sorry, it was incorrectly set for 6:30am on my Google Calendar) at the Clubhouse. It's a movie about mental illness and the realities of a system that perpetuates stigmas of the mentally ill. Kaye has already seen this movie and raves about it. So Miwa and I (and a few of our friends) are going to see it this Friday. We welcome any and all guests and friends of CAMI-CNMI to join us.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 2/01/2007 06:56:00 AM 0 comments