Vinfen’s Matthew Griffen and Emmanuel Bigger-Allen had the honor to be the emcees at Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) Northeast Area Legislative Breakfast on March 31 at the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House. This year’s theme was “The World of Work.” The breakfast was a chance for the people in the mental health community to come together and meet with their legislators. Matthew and Emmanuel were chosen to present due to their inspirational recovery stories.
Matthew is a Transition to Independence Program (TIP) graduate. TIP is a strength-based model designed to support young adults in planning for their future. Matthew also completed Gathering Inspiring Future Talent (GIFT) Training so he could become a Peer Mentor at Vinfen where he now supports others with their recovery. DMH Area Director Susan Wing told the audience that Matthew was, “One of the most premier, sought-after Peer Mentors in our system right now and a leader for others coming up.”
Emmanuel is a person served by TIP. He is a Dean’s List student at UMass Boston and is studying Exercise Health Science. He is planning for a bright future. “I am looking into graduate schools in occupational therapy, so I can give back to the mental health system,” Emmanuel says.
Together, they introduced Susan, DMH Commissioner Joan Mikula, and the speakers who shared their own or child’s recovery story. Both Matthew and Emmanuel thanked attendees and legislators for their support. Susan in turn thanked both Matthew and Emmanuel. “We’re so tremendously proud of them. We’re so happy for them to be the face of the Department this morning, because really this is what it’s about. It’s about recovery, it’s about success, and it’s about being up here and giving back.”
Family, friends, and Vinfen staff came out to support Matthew and Emmanuel on their big day. Both enjoyed their time as emcees. “I’m a first time emcee. But I hope it’s not the last!” said Matthew.