Mental health consumers receiving services from Community Empowerment Services (CES) are encouraged to create and carry with them a card with their personal “passion statement.” This is part of CES’ recovery and strengths-based model of case management to make the lives of their consumers more meaningful. If you ask CES’ chief operating officer Aliman Sears and chief executive officer Jan Rumi what their passion statement is, you will receive a simple answer. “We want to help people with mental illness,” says Rumi. “That really fires us up.”
It is this passion which drove the beginnings of this young organization in 2005. At the time, Rumi was the Honolulu Lion’s Club president and was at a club meeting listening to Sears speak on supported employment. Rumi was immediately inspired by Sears’ words. The men met and made plans that eventually resulted in the launch of Community Empowerment Services on July 1, 2007.
That day, CES won a contract with the AMHD to provide specialized case management to consumers who are homeless. Sears and Rumi, however, push CES beyond just fulfilling the contract requirements. “We don’t look on the contract as the standard,” says Sears. “We look at the contract as the minimal. Our goal is always to shoot above that.” Not only does CES find consumers shelter and housing, but the organization strives to help consumers gain employment and to include meaningful activities in their lives. CES case managers connect consumers to their own passions, whether it is church, community groups, work, or volunteer opportunities. Sears and Rumi are especially proud of their staff and the work they do.
CES employs between 18 to 20 staff who were all handpicked by the two men through their network of peers. Rumi boasts that the turnover is low and that their staff are the best of the best. “We value our employees as much as we value our consumers because they’re like two sides of the same coin,” he says. There is no top-down corporate culture in CES. Staff have a one-on-one relationship with their CEO and COO, and the same can be said about the relationship between staff and the consumers they serve. Although CES has the option to increase their case load, CES limits the numbers of consumers they serve to 150. As Rumi describes it, he sees CES as a boutique where consumers can come for a “one-stop shop” to receive all the services they need in a personalized manner. He sees the boutique model of personal interaction and aloha spirit as beneficial to both their consumers and employees.
This attention to staff and consumers has led to overwhelming positive feedback from consumers and their families. According to Sears and Rumi, the growth of CES has been relatively smooth thanks to the help of the AMHD, particularly O‘ahu service area administrator Linda Appel, case management service director Robbyn Takeuchi, and UM supervisor Carrie Rosen. “We’re really thankful for what the AMHD has done to bring in federal funding,” says Sears. “It melds with our own plan of sustainability.” CES’ plans, say Sears and Rumi, are to increase their services and to last well into the future. Rumi: “We hope to be known as the best in town.”
In original context: Article about Community Empowerment Services in AMHD News