Wood-Claeyssens Grant Supports Award-Winning Employment Program

$25,000 Gift Promises Continued Recovery and Job-Skills Development for Santa Marians in Mental Health Recovery

Transitions-Mental Health Association’s (TMHA) Growing Grounds Farm in Santa Maria has received a $25,000 grant from the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation. This grant will support vocational and horticultural therapy provided by the Farm to people who have a mental illness.

“We’re delighted with this grant and the support that Wood-Claeyssens has shown for the Farm,” said Frank Ricceri, associate director at TMHA. “The Farm program relies completely on funding from community sources. We’re so encouraged by this gift and will use it to help our friends and neighbors in their quest for jobs.”

The Wood-Claeyssens Foundation is a California non-profit corporation located in Santa Barbara, CA, that provides funding for nonprofits in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties that are tax exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be classified as “not a private foundation” under section 509(a).

A vocational program of TMHA that grows and sells on-site pesticide-free vegetables and cut-flowers, Growing Grounds Farm is located on the corner of West Foster Road and California Boulevard in Santa Maria (820 W. Foster Road). It offers therapy and employment opportunities to community members who have a mental illness.

Growing Grounds Farm in Santa Maria, its sister farm in San Luis Obispo, and Growing Grounds Downtown Store – all vocational programs through TMHA – have received the first place employment honor at the nationally-acclaimed 2009 Lilly Reintegration Awards for making a way for those who have a mental illness to find meaningful employment in the local community. Since 1997, the Lilly Reintegration Awards, sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company, have recognized the outstanding achievements of people and programs that provide the necessary support for those with mental illness to reintegrate into their communities.

For over 25 years, TMHA has operated Growing Grounds Farm and Wholesale Nursery in San Luis Obispo. The program offered a combination of horticultural therapy and vocational training, helping clients regain their ability to work. The program was so effective that TMHA started two others: Growing Grounds Farm in Santa Maria in 2000 and Growing Grounds Downtown Store in 2005. In concert with TMHA’s Supported Employment Program, Growing Grounds businesses now offer a myriad of services and opportunities, including training in work readiness, a job, a paycheck, links to community employers and, best of all, self-confidence and independence.

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