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Meet the Family Peer Support Specialists

Meet our amazing team of Family Peer Support Specialists who help parents and/or primary caregivers with children experiencing mental health and/or substance abuse challenges which are resulting in trouble at school, with the law and/or that put the child at risk of out of home placement.

Kelly Ford, Supervisor, Family Peer Support Specialist Program

 

Bio coming soon

Alyssa Spring

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"To me, being an FPSS means that I am able to listen to, advocate for, offer hope, and support youth with mental health problems."

Hi, I am Alyssa Spring. This is my first year as an Family Peer Support Specialist and I love it. I graduated this year from USU and recently got married to my beautiful wife. I love plants, books, and my 1 year old Mini Aussie Wonder. I love water and am training to be a mermaid. As someone who has struggled and still struggles with mental illness, I believe in the power of hope and recovery.  I want to be an advocate for families in a society that often stigmatizes mental illness. As an empath, I love to listen and connect with people. I believe that allowing families to be heard and validated is one of the most important things I will do with my life. As an FPSS I am able to be on the family’s side and offer the hope, support, and resources they need to find and sustain resilience. 

Brooke Blake

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Brooke Blake began working for Salt Lake County Youth Services in 2019 as a Family Peer Support Specialist.  Brooke has over 17 years of personal experience breaking down doors, finding out-of-the-box solutions, and fighting for services for her two children with special needs.  She has also experienced many life events that have given her empathy for families in need and the challenges they face every day.  Brooke promises to bring heart and humor to every family she works with.  She is the friend that will meet you where you are at, walk with you in the journey, and cheer you on in your accomplishments.

She feels honored to have been given the opportunity to listen to families in the community and help them find support and solutions that match their unique needs. When Brooke is not at work she enjoys spending time with her husband of 20 years and three amazing children. They spend their time camping, traveling, and with extended family. 

Helene Kalala

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“Helene, being a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) for the 3-past years, believes that every family is unique and expert in their own experiences- Her focus is on her client’s identified strengths and needs for services. So, she finds ways in which these strengths can promote the changes her clients would want to see in their lives; she is “An I Hear You” for refugee and immigrant’s parents with children experiencing mental health /substance abuse challenges leading them to truancy/trouble with the law/out of home.”

 She is originally from the Congo and traveled around the world with her lovely husband on diplomatic assignments, where she had the opportunity to help many children and adults suffering with war trauma.  `In 2001, she moved to the USA with her family; and 14 years later enrolled at the University of Utah and completed a Masters of Social Work (2015) after mental health struck her own child.

As a CPSS, and resilient woman, her focus is on truancy, and family reunification among these populations that she handles with care and passion; but instilling resiliency. She acts as a family advocate/advisor and ambassador with the local schools.

On her spare time, Helene likes travelling with her husband, reading, cooking/spending time with her grandkids/video calling those abroad.  

Laura Ellsworth

Laura Elssworth

"This work is about helping families feel validated, empowered and heard."

Laura has been a Certified Family Peer Support Specialist for the past 4 years, but she has been a listening ear and “lets see what we can do together” person for as long as she can remember.

Her combined lived experience with family members with mental health issues, physical limitations, and developmental delays and her years in Granite School District as a Behavior Health Aid culminated in a perfect transition to Peer Support work. As an CFPS Specialist, she helps families identify their strengths and needs and supports them as they navigate systems and circumstances that seem overwhelming.

Within her CFPSS work, she has been assigned to the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court team and the Compulsory Education court at the Salt Lake District Court, where she has represented Family Voice and Choice in the courtroom staffings and proceedings and provided valuable resources for youth and families in and out of the courtroom.

Lauren Greco

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Lauren Greco has worked at Youth Services for almost five years.  Lauren received her Psychology degree in 2014, from Columbia College. Afterwards, Lauren became a Family Peer Support Facilitator so that she could be of service and support for families that struggle with Mental Health needs.  She brings her lived experience to this role by encouraging families to learn to thrive and find solutions to their struggles through resilience, empowerment, and compassion. 

Lauren values her family, meditation, reading, cooking, travel and the outdoors.

 

Mandy Susaeta

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“As an FPSS I get to show families that they have a voice and what they want and need matters”

Mandy has been with the Family Peer Support Specialist program for 4 years. She loves giving families hope and that’s what ultimately lead her to the FPSS program. Mandy has overcome many barriers in her personal life related to mental health and substance abuse. She is very passionate about advocating for autism awareness and enjoys sharing her experience with her own son and his journey with autism. Mandy has a plethora of resources and works daily to stay involved with the community and building relationships. She is currently attending school for her Bachelor’s in Social Work and is excited to expand her knowledge. In her free time Mandy enjoys arts and crafts, reading, gardening, and volunteering.

Maxie McKay

Maxie McKay began working at YS in 2019 as a Family Peer Support Specialist. Maxie is an advocate for youth. She has lived experience in the mental health system and is now working in the field of youth engagement to promote and encourage the inclusion of youth voice. Her passion is to ensure that youth receive the help they need, when they need it and a workforce of individuals with lived experience is available to support and empower youth and their caregivers as they navigate services, supports and recovery. Maxie is honored to be able to help inspire hope and healing throughout our community!