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The Prince George Hotel: Romance and RAC meetings

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The sun was bright, the air, breezy, as the peers began to trickle into the Prince George Hotel. This would be the RAC (Regional Advisory Committee)  that set the stage for the greatest relationship, the strongest bond, between clinical and peer professionals since Celia Brown first began holding these meetings in Manhattan’s premier mental health housing and supported apartment conferences.

 

RAC meetings bring peers, clinicians, and advocates into the same room. These are run by the Office of Mental Health (OMH) . NYC RAC meetings, with the exception of Staten Island, which is really a sub-borough, are run by Melia. At this particular RAC meeting, there would be a presentation about vulnerable people from representatives from the Justice Center. As far as this writer is concerned, justice was delivered in the form of budding love, in the wake of system wide despair and angst.

 

At approximately 10 am, this meeting would be scheduled to begin. Melia Black’s meetings are notorious for running late, and this meeting would be no different. Two people were on time that day, Mr. J. PETERS and MV, Peer. The marched into the Prince George supported housing building with a purpose. While that purpose was not to find love, they would find it there.

 

At approximately 10:30 am, Melia still had not arrived for her own meeting. J.P and M were in the meeting room, surmising where Melia could possibly be, with another peer, demanding JP purchase her a coffee from across the street at the small bakery. Mr. PETERS agreed, stating: “if this meeting isn’t starting anytime soon I should probably have a cigarette and coffee sounds nice”. M looked up, catching the gaze of Mr. J for a brief second. This second would make its way into the annals of RAC meeting romance, and brief pick up opportunities, for NYC disabled professionals in Mental Health.

 

Mr. PETERS held the elevator door open for Ms.V , knowing she would follow him down to the bakery. They smoked a cigarette together, talking about self-published memoirs, gesturing towards a lifetime ahead of just that: smoke and shameless self-promotion.

 

When the meeting finally began. Notes were passed between M and J.P. Each now vested in each other’s thoughts, developing feelings, and the road ahead. When lunch finally came, Mr. PETERS was already perched by the buffet table.

 

There aren’t enough drinks for everyone, so we need to share…” Melia told everyone. These meetings were also notorious for botched drink orders, and an overabundance of cake, for Melia’s poison was sugar and could care less if there wasn’t enough bottled water for her own people to take their afternoon meds.

 

After lunch, Mr. PETERS would walk out with Ms. V on his arm remarking to Melia:

“Thanks for lunch!”

leaving the meeting halfway through with a full stomach, and in a new relationship.

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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