Kelly McMullen, Director, ulster County Office for the Aging & recipient of the 2014 Community Pqartner Award from RUPCO

Regional housing innovatorRUPCO recognizes an Ulster County Department Director for her contributions to supportive housing at its annual Community Lunch on October 30 at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern, Saugerties. Kelly McMullen, Director-Ulster County Office for the Aging, receives the Community Partner Award for her work with the elderly and special needs populations.

Kelly has worked for Ulster County for nearly 12 years.  After 11 years in the Ulster County’s Department of Mental Health (DOMH), Kelly was appointed as the Director of the County’s Office for the Aging (OA) by County Executive, Michael Hein, in April 2014. The OA supports seniors in maintaining their independence and to remain in their homes for as long as possible. At DOMH, McMullen oversaw Ulster County adult behavioral health services including case management and housing. “As an advocate for housing for low-income people with chronic health and mental health conditions, and now the elderly, my experience continues to reaffirm that safe and stable housing is critical to promoting health and mental health as well as to achieving and then sustaining a meaningful life,” notes McMullen.

In her 35 years in human services, McMullen has served across a wide variety of  settings. “I’ve worked at a residential school for disabled children with behavioral disorders, as CEO of a private agency serving adults with mental illness, substance abuse issues and the developmentally disabled, for the Ulster County Department of Mental Health and, now, serving Ulster County seniors as the Director of the Office for the Aging,” notes McMullen. “I’ve learned two things while serving people across the full spectrum of life. Firstly, we are, all of us, far more alike than not and everyone deserves opportunities to cultivate respect and to be valued. Our needs are basic and equal; to have an optimal life experience we require safety and security, good health, nutrition and to be loved.  We all desire a meaningful life; to make a significant contribution to others, to be productive at our highest level, and to be recognized for such.  I am supported in my work with the excellent and vigorous leadership of the County Executive and who sets a high expectation for collaborative and meaningful work with outcomes that can are measured in their impact on the lives to Ulster residents.  RUPCO is a terrific partner in the collaborative model to solving problems and meeting the populations’ needs.  Those of us representing agencies that come together in this way hear, time after time, how unique our County is with respect to this culture of work.”

Outside her day job, McMullen serves on civic and community boards like RUPCO.  “We’re honoring Kelly with the Community Partner Award at our annual Community Lunch because of her extensive work behind the scenes. Her dedication to the mental health and senior populations here in Ulster County merits recognition,” says RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor. “She has also served on the RUPCO Advisory Council and as a member of the Programs Committee and Continuum of Care, Kelly was integral in our recent grant application submissions. Because of her field expertise, she helped RUPCO write, and secure, two new programs that will benefit the County’s elderly and special needs residents.”

RUPCO recently received $496,224 from NYS Department of Health for the Senior Supportive Housing Services pilot. This state funding project serves low-income, Medicaid eligible seniors who are homeless or reside in the community and who are at risk of nursing home placement and seniors transitioning out of nursing homes into community living who require long-term care services. RUPCO’s pilot project, Senior Supportive Housing, involves the hiring of two case managers who will engage seniors in the home and coordinate healthcare services. RUPCO plans to implement that senior supportive housing program by year-end.

Additionally, the NYS Department of Mental Health (OMH) named RUPCO as a supportive housing provider eligible to receive capital funding to create housing and provide case management services for persons with mental illness. “This was a competitive process and significant application,” notes O’Connor. “This OMH designation is a big next step for RUPCO.”

McMullen’s recognition dovetails with Community Lunch’s keynote topic, supportive housing is the solution, with guest speaker Ted Houghton. ”Speakers like Ted help us better understand what lies ahead for the housing industry as a whole and special needs populations in particular,” adds O’Connor. Houghton is the newly appointed Executive Deputy Commissioner of NYS Homes & Community Renewal (NYS HCR), and served as executive director of Supportive Housing Network of NY for eight years. “Ted pioneered the concept of housing-as-healthcare and brings this fresh energy to statewide housing agendas,” adds O’Connor. “Ted’s talk addresses the needs and subsequent changes occurring statewide that reinforce the work needs to be done, the work that’s being done, through public-private partnerships. RUPCO welcomes innovative collaboration, like what we’re doing with Country Meadows in Saugerties, to further enhance housing accessibility and stable life situations for all Ulster County residents and our regional neighbors. Kelly’s work has directly benefited the regional homeless and special needs populations with housing concerns. We honor her work publicly with the Community Partner Award, and more importantly at this event, because it ties succinctly with Ted’s message supportive housing is the solution. RUPCO champions this housing approach with projects like They Stuyvesant, Woodstock Commons, and upcoming work with Country Meadows in Saugerties.”

“At RUPCO, we believe everyone deserves quality, healthy and sustainable housing at an affordable price,” adds O’Connor. “Think of where you would be without Home. Now complicate that homeless status with additional medical needs like diabetes, PTSD, or cancer, and a tough situation gets worse. Housing IS healthcare and supportive housing is the solution.  If you are interested in building community right here, I invite you to Community Lunch. Let’s start with housing and see what happens. This important message is relevant to all our neighbors: healthcare providers, hospital workers, caregivers, along with our supporters of affordable housing. I hope you’ll join us on October 30.”

Community Lunch will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern, Saugerties.  Tickets cost $35 per person. Corporate and business sponsorships from $100 to $1500 are also available. To purchase tickets or sponsorships online, visit rupco-community-lunch.eventbrite.com. For more information or questions about Community Lunch, tickets and sponsorships, visit www.RUPCO.org, call (845) 331-9860 ext. 210 or email Tara Collins, Director of Communication & Resource Development, at [email protected]

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