Unity House Peer Ambassador Program Offers Support and Employment Opportunities
In the spring of 2016, Unity House launched the Peer Ambassador program to provide outreach services to individuals struggling with chronic unmet needs. Unity House’s Community Resources program staff recognized that many of these individuals had a history of significant trauma in their lives and were distrustful of traditional support organizations and agencies. Program staff also believed that a different approach could ease the way for these individuals to seek support services. Unity House had seen the success of several peer-to-peer mentoring programs in other cities and decided that it could work well in Troy, too. Peer-to-peer mentoring programs train and hire individuals who have sought treatment for their own mental health issues to work as peer mentors in their communities.
The first group of trained Ambassadors began conducting outreach with hard-to-reach individuals this spring. In addition, the Ambassadors (who proudly wear green vests imprinted with the Unity House logo) help create and maintain a welcoming atmosphere at the Bethany Community Meals program in Troy. The Ambassadors have the trust and confidence of their peers, and they are already achieving success in guiding individuals to the services they need.
A grant from The Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation helped fund this program, which was developed under the guidance of Dr. Kimberly Brayton of The Sage Colleges’ Forensic Mental Health graduate program. Dr. Brayton and Sage College graduate students worked with Unity House staff to design the program and train staff. You can learn more about the Ambassadors program here.