A message from our Chief Clinical Officer for the 20th anniversary — When I first came to CooperRiis, I knew I had stumbled upon something unique. I saw this special community of people deeply connected through the work of healing, growing and relating to one another in life-changing ways. Deeply personal healing was taking place in the context of relationships characterized by respect, dignity and the mutual acknowledgement of our humanity. This place has been so inspiring to me that I’ve made it my professional home for the past 13 years. I am grateful for the opportunity and privilege to immerse myself in this community of dedicated staff and to witness the courage and resiliency of those on their recovery journeys.
Johnnie Featherston, MA, LCMHC
Chief Clinical Officer
Stories of Recovery from our Alumni Community
by Development Director, Stephanie Wilensky
Stephanie regularly has contact with our alumni community and enjoys getting updates from them. Often she hears wonderful stories of success in their recovery journeys and, with permission for our 20th anniversary, is able to share some of these stories with us.
Alumni Ez shares “when I approached the long driveway leading up to the Farm at CooperRiis, I didn’t know what to expect. I was at my lowest point, and none of the treatment programs I had previously tried had made a dent in my major depression and anxiety.
During my time at CooperRiis, I learned how to function again. Through the amazing programs at CR, I was able to get back on a routine and devote myself to my passions again. The most impactful moments for me occurred during Crew hours, working out in the fields with Community Work and Service Animal Crew Leader Emily Moyer and the incredible animals at the farm. I do not have the space or adequate words to describe the shift that occurred in me during my months at CooperRiis and I am grateful to CooperRiis for saving my life. I would not be here without the amazing staff at the Farm. Hopefully, this provides a slight window into the depths of my gratitude.”
Top Mental Health Coping Skills
One of the therapeutic groups that I offer at the Asheville Community Program is “Safe Coping Skills,” which includes a module on Asking for Help. This is one of my favorite modules to share with our residents, because effectively asking for help is one of the first, most critical steps in a resident’s recovery, in addition to pursuing psychological and physical safety. It’s also challenging because it requires vulnerability and the willingness to take a risk by sharing with another that you are struggling with and can’t do it all on your own.
Sadly, vulnerability can be seen as weakness in our society, but nothing could be further from the truth. It takes true strength for residents and their families to utilize this coping skill and to trust CooperRiis to provide the compassionate and comprehensive support necessary to embark on a transformative healing journey.
Every day, I am inspired by our families’ and residents’ willingness to take the risk, be vulnerable, and ask for the help they need.
Reflecting on CooperRiis’ 20th Anniversary
Years of service — 17 years
Current role — CooperRiis at Asheville, Milieu Therapist
Special memory of your time at CooperRiis?
“It’s hard to choose. A few memories that stand out are: homemade boat race at the farm, long swims in the pond, playing in soccer league in Asheville with residents and staff, basketball game between the Farm and Asheville, ACP cookouts/games at the park, transition circles, open mics/talent shows/holiday plays, learning lots of new things (knitting, crocheting, felting, flute making, cooking), many great walks and talks.”
Something you particularly enjoy about working at CooperRiis?
“I deeply value the culture of respect, care, authenticity, positive-regard for each other within the community – combined with the holistic, relational and nurturing environment.”
CREAMY MUSHROOM BISQUE
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
12oz. mixed mushrooms (such as cremini, shiitake, oyster, and/or maitake), cut or torn into bite-size pieces
1 large, sweet onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups whole milk (any non-dairy milk to make vegan)
¼ cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp. red or white miso
Freshly ground black pepper
GARLICKY OIL AND ASSEMBLY
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Cook, undisturbed, until browned underneath, about 3 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown all over, 5–7 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate, leaving oil behind.
Add onion to pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring often and reducing heat as needed if beginning to brown, until very soft, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add milk and cook until reduced to half. Pour in 5 cups water and return mushrooms to pot. Bring to a simmer.
Transfer 3 cups soup (including some mushrooms) to a blender and add cashews and miso. Purée until very smooth. Stir back into soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10–15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Garlicky oil and assembly
Bring oil, garlic, thyme, and pepper to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently until garlic is tender and just turning golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with garlicky oil.
Learn more about our diet, nutrition and our integrated wellness approach at CooperRiis here.
Lily is our oldest goat on the farm and has the longest history with CooperRiis. Lily is a part Alpine, part Saanen milk goat. Her mom, Bridgett, gave birth to her on the farm in spring 2013. In turn, Lily had four kids on the farm, Sven, Olaf, Daisy, and Dandelion (Dandy).
Lily is both the most personable and most mischievous goat on the farm. When you enter the pasture, she will be the first to come up to you looking for treats. If any of the goats escape their pasture, you can be sure that it was Lily who led the way.
Lily shares a particular bond with staff and residents who took turns milking her early every morning while she was still being milked. 7:00am on a winter morning is chilly for both goats and people but Lily’s comforting morning nuzzles and bleating helped warm spirits. Fresh goat milk in an early cup of coffee was another perk to help get everyone out of bed.
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Reiner www.JeremiahReiner.com
Which trusted top source for mental health news is CooperRiis a regular contributor to?
With over 30 million visits monthly, Psychology Today is where doctors, academics, healthcare workers, and anyone interested in learning more about mental health go for trusted, vetted information and opinion.
Please read and share our post entitled “Helping Loved Ones With Mental Illness Find Purpose: Tips to support a loved one on their journey to wellness.” This blog was written by our own psychiatrist Dr. William Anixter, MD.
With four levels in an integrated system of care, residents can enter our program by way of residential options, CooperRiis at Asheville or The Farm at CooperRiis, or our transitional living program called the Asheville Community Program (with two levels of care). Reach out to our admissions team today at Admissions@CooperRiis.org or call 828-899-4673 to speak someone on our Admissions Team.