Friday, October 21, 2016

New Director at RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Carmen Castorena-O’Keefe as the Director of Vocational Services at RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services.

Ms. Castorena-O’Keefe has over 20 years of management experience, with the past 14 years being in Vocational Rehabilitation Services.  As the Program Director for Hire-Ability, Ms. Castorena-O’Keefe manages and supports a team dedicated to enhancing San Francisco City and County residents’ lives through Vocational Skills Training and Competitive Community Job Placement.

Prior to joining RAMS, Ms. Castorena-O’Keefe managed (9+ years) Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) within the Human Services Agency, which serves San Mateo County residents with disabilities and/or barriers to employment; she also held positions within VRS as the  Marketing Manager and Job Development Specialist. Ms. Castorena-O’Keefe began her career as a Career Counselor/Placement Director and eventually Corporate Director of Career Services for Heald Colleges over 20 years ago.

Ms. Castorena-O’Keefe obtained her B.S degree from San Francisco State University. She has lived in San Francisco for over 30 years and is dedicated to serving and strengthening her community.

Please join us in welcoming and congratulating Ms. Carmen Castorena-O’Keefe to her new leadership appointment as the Director of RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services.

You may contact Carmen Castorena-O’Keefe at RAMS by telephone at 415-282-9675 and/or by email at

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

RAMS ​C​o-sponsoring S​eptember 29th SF District 1 Supervisor Candidates Forum!

RAMS is serving as one of the community sponsors for this upcoming San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Candidates Forum. Hope you can join us!
WHEN: ​Thursday, September 2​9, 2016,​ 6:​0​0pm - ​9:00pm
WHERE: ​Alamo Elementary School,​ 250 23rd Ave,​ SF
WHAT: ​2016 ​San Francisco ​District 1 Candidates Forum​, hosted by the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco​
View the Facebook Event Page:

Co-Sponsoring Organizations: ​Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Asian Family Support Services​, ​Community Youth Center (CYC)​, ​Golden Gate Village​, ​Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco​, ​Jobs with Justice San Francisco​, ​Richmond Area Multi-Services (RAMS)​, ​Richmond District Neighborhood Center​, ​Richmond District Senior Center​, ​Richmond District YMCA​, San Francisco Tenants Union

Monday, August 22, 2016

Introducing Career Connections—A New Hire-Ability Program Designed to Serve Transition Aged Youth!

RAMS is excited to announce that our Hire-Ability division will be launching a new program, called Career Connections, in the fall of 2016. The Hire-Ability Career Connections Program will offer time-limited paid internships to transitional aged youth (TAY) ages 15-25, in order to provide healthy activities and entry-level work experience, and to help TAY consumers of behavioral health services achieve resiliency and maximize recovery.

We are looking for individuals who:
·         Are between 15 and 25 years of age
·         Are a resident of San Francisco
·         Are currently receiving services through SFDPH Behavioral Health Services (SFDPH-BHS)

Application and Course Timeline:
August 2016- Application Released
Friday, Sept. 16th--Applications Due
Monday, Sept. 19th-Friday, Sept. 30th--Notification of Application Status
Thursday, October 6th: Registration forms due for accepted applicants
Tuesday, October 11th: First workshop
January, 2017: Participants start work at their internship placement
October, 2017: Program graduation

Contact Information:
Please feel free to contact us with questions about our program. We can be reached by phone at: 415.282.9675. Our brochure and application are available for download:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Introducing the Awardees of the 2016 Staff Awards for Outstanding Service

RAMS is delighted to announce the awardees of the fourth annual Staff Awards for Outstanding Service!

To be considered for this recognition, anyone working at RAMS may be nominated by anyone within the agency. The awardees were announced during the July 2016 RAMS all-staff meeting; each awardee received a certificate and a cash prize.

Consumer/Community Advocate Award: This award honors an individual who has been an outstanding voice for consumer empowerment by promoting client centered decision-making & change, access to information & resources, and creating relationships that foster hope, safety, and a sense of self-efficacy. S/he is mindful not only of consumer needs, but also of the needs of the larger community. S/he goes above and beyond the “call of duty”, outside her/his regular responsibilities to advocate on the behalf of the organization, consumers, their communities, and the “cause” at large.

Awardee: Frank Isidro, BA
Mr. Frank Isidro serves as a Peer Supervisor within the Division of Peer-Based Services. His nomination highlighted the ways that Frank has exemplified what it means to work with a Wellness & Recovery approach. In his role, he supports Peer Counselors to further develop the skills needed to become an integral part of the workforce at numerous behavioral health sites throughout San Francisco. Frank is an inspiration for those who work with him; he has contributed in many ways over the years to the Peer Movement and to consumer employment services in the city – as a job coach, mentor, counselor, and supervisor. Frank has also led the planning of many Consumer and Family Member Conferences, again demonstrating his dedication to the community.

Excellence in Service & Cultural Competency Award: This award honors a skilled & compassionate individual who exemplifies the values and ideals of RAMS’ mission in her/his work & interaction with staff, consumers, and the community. S/he has given superior, sustained commitment to quality services, along with unwavering dedication to serve the organization (including other staff, consumers & their communities) with professionalism, integrity, respect, and humility. This individual is not only skilled at what s/he does, but also values diversity, is able to conduct self-assessments, manage & embrace the dynamics of difference, acquire new cultural knowledge, and adapt to the cultural context of the people s/he serves. S/he has a lasting positive impact on the organization and the communities.

Awardee: Wajma Ataie, MA, MFTI
Ms. Wajma Ataie is a bilingual Mental Health Counselor at RAMS Child, Youth, and Family Services (CYF). Wajma is described as having a huge heart and an excellent advocate for the families and children she works with at her John Muir Elementary School. She is dedicated to understanding the culture and family climate a child comes from and she uses her multiple language skills to connect with families and help them feel supported. Yuka Hachiuma, Director of CYF, also shared at the all-staff meeting how Wajma has consistently demonstrated her passion and dedication to working with the underserved population of pre-dominantly African-American and Latino students and their families at the school. Her openness and curiosity extends to her interactions with her colleagues where you can often find her engrossed in a discussion about culture and learning.

Rising Star/Leadership Award: The award honors an individual that has shown exceptional promise in leadership by demonstrating their skills within the organization and our communities. S/he has shown accomplishments in improving the operations of a program, the administrative/supportive functions, and/or the lives of consumers and community we serve using an effective and efficient approach. This individual leads the way with fresh energy, strong ability, and steadfast commitment.

Awardee: Flora Chan, Psy.D.
Ms. Flora Chan is a Licensed Psychologist and serves as Clinical Manager at RAMS Adult/Older Adult Outpatient Services Clinic and the Manager of Asian Family Institute. Flora is a major figure at RAMS, and has a long history with the agency as a clinician – she completed the RAMS training program first as a trainee and then as a doctoral intern. She was then hired as a staff therapist, became a licensed psychologist, and has supervised trainees and peer counselors. In her nomination, Flora is described as an exceptional therapist who is very thoughtful, sensible, and culturally sensitive, with a strong commitment to the community, humility, resiliency, and she has an exceptional ability to connect with others. She cares significantly about providing high quality care for our clients and facilitating a nurturing work environment for staff and interns. She is an advocate, always steps up, demonstrates leadership, gets people on board, and makes change.

Congratulations to the awardees! RAMS is pleased to be able to have this annual recognition for its staff.

Click HERE to view awardees from the previous year.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate -- Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2016 Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course

RAMS, in collaboration with San Francisco State University (SFSU) Department of Counseling, is excited to announce that the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2016 Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course!

Funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Course provides a 12-week long training for consumers of behavioral health services or their family members who are interested in becoming peer counselors/peer specialists in the field of community behavioral health. Having already successfully completed 12 cohort cycles, this course has had over 160 graduates, the majority of whom are actively engaging in work, volunteer, and educational opportunities as a direct result of taking the course. This program is free of cost for the attendee, with books and materials included, and a modest stipend is provided upon completion of the course.

We are looking for individuals who:

  • Are at least 18 years of age and a resident of San Francisco,
  • Have successfully completed at least a High School education or GED, and
  • Are able to attend 12 weeks of classes, which will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays (10am-2pm).
  • This program is funded by MHSA through San Francisco Behavioral Health Services.  As such, the course is targeted to individuals (or family members) with personal experience with behavioral health services.

Application and Course Timeline:
  •          Wednesday, July 6th - Application Release 
  •          Tuesday, July 19th & Thursday, July 21st, 10am-12pm -                                                     Optional Informational Open Houses (see Flyer Here for details)
  •          Wednesday, August 10th @ 5:00pm - Application Deadline 
  •          Week of August 22nd - Notification of Application Status 
  •          Tuesday, September 6th - Registration Forms Due for Accepted Applicants 
  •          Tuesday, September 13th – First Day of Class 
  •          Thursday, December 8th - Graduation Ceremony 

Please feel free to contact us at (415) 579-3021 x102 or should you have any questions. Materials are also available for download at:

We look forward to receiving applications for the Fall 2016 class, and beginning another great cohort!

To view the flyers below, right-click and select any option to "Open".

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Remembering Shirley Chan

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of dear Ms. Shirley Suet Ying Chan, MA, Mental Health Counselor at RAMS.

Ms. Chan passed away on June 23rd in San Francisco. Although she was battling cancer, she bravely handled her illness, always putting on a cheerful face, and deflecting our concerns and worries about her.  We mourn the loss of her positive and confident spirit, and will always cherish the memories of working with her.

Shirley Suet Ying Chan
January 21, 1961 - June 23, 2016

Ms. Chan began her employment at RAMS in December 2003.  She worked as a Mental Health Counselor in the RAMS Adult/Older Adult Outpatient Clinic and the RAMS Child, Youth, & Family Services program, as well as providing counseling and support through the Problem Gambling Project Helpline at the RAMS Asian Family Institute.  She was enthusiastic about her work, and very sensitive & understanding of the cultural needs of her clients.  She felt a deep responsibility to serve the community.   And above all, Ms. Chan was an honest, kind, and generous individual who often provided emotional support, and humor & laughter, to coworkers in their time of need.  She continued her dedicated services for 12 years at RAMS, enduring the effects of her medical condition and treatment until she took her leave in 2015.  Throughout it all, she remained unflappable and upbeat, an inspiration to those who were privileged to know her.

We extend our sincere condolences to her family, friends, and co-workers as well as those who knew & worked with her over the years. We will miss her joyful presence, and will always keep her spirit alive.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 10 - APA Mental Health Day: Frames of Mind Exhibit

In honor of Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day and May being Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS) is proudly partnering with Kearny Street Workshop to hold a photography exhibit titled “Frames of Mind”. This exhibit features the work of Asian American and Pacific Islanders who participated in a 7-class workshop series, telling stories about mental health through photography.

Here are the Frames of Mind exhibit details:
      Frames of Mind exhibit: May 10-13, 2016 (please check the Center’s website for gallery hours)
      FREE Public Reception: May 10, 2016 (4:00pm to 7:00pm)
      International Hotel Manilatown Center
      868 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

About Mental Health Conditions:
  • About one in five Americans in a given year are impacted by mental health conditions regardless of gender, age, race, religion and socioeconomic status. (NIMH) 
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders appear to have extremely low utilization of mental health services relative to other U.S. populations. (NAMI) This may be due to the substantial stigma that exists and cultural & linguistic isolation of the community, family and individual.
  • The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States. Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, and suicide. (NAMI)
  •  Treatments for mental health conditions today are highly effective and individuals who receive treatment have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life.
Many factors contribute to mental health concerns such as biological, life experiences (e.g. trauma, immigration, housing instability), and family history of mental health conditions. When someone starts to experience the early warning signs of mental illness, knowing the risks factors and symptoms will help. Often times, family and friends are the first to support a person through these early stages. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness and wellness & recovery is always possible.

The press release is below (right-click and select any option to "Open").