Employment Peer Mentor, Joel Receives Award Smiling Next to Woman
Employment Peer Mentor, Joel Receives IPS Award

Joel has been an Employment Peer Mentor on Easterseals UCP’s Individual Placement and Support team in Durham for about 7 years. He recently received the International IPS Community Family/Peer Advocate Award. This award recognizes a family member or peer who has been active in demonstrating outstanding advocacy, involvement in educational activities and leadership regarding Individual Placement and Support. The team at the IPS Employment Center selected Joel out of the pool of 2023 family/peer advocate nominations.

Employment Peer Mentor, Joel Receives Award Smiling Next to WomanAs an Employment Peer Mentor, Joel offers Wraparound services, a model of support for youth and their families, and other wellness services to individuals on the Individual Placement and Support team. He also assists people in the community with gaining access to housing, clothing, food and other resources. In his personal life, he is very active in the Durham NAMI chapter and lead virtual support groups throughout the pandemic. Joel is the living embodiment of what Individual Placement and Support is all about. This is because his vocation is a testament to his own story of recovery. Joel shares his story with individuals he supports to encourage them and offer hope that recovery is possible.

Joel accepted the award alongside family, friends and colleagues from Easterseals UCP, University of North Carolina, Department of Health and Human Services, IPS Employment Center and Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc.

Joel is described as creative, kind and patient by his colleagues. “I had the opportunity to get to know Joel better during the pandemic on our virtual monthly Employment Peer Mentor support calls. He never ceased to amaze me,” says Penny, a colleague from University of North Carolina. “Since Joel has years of experience as a Peer Support Specialist, he mentored the new Employment Peer Mentors on the call by providing resources, suggestions for interventions and offering empathy.”

Joel’s mother, Virginia, was also in attendance at the ceremony. Virginia worked for Easterseals UCP for a long time as a therapist. She was thrilled to watch her son receive this distinguished award.

Easterseals UCP’s Individual Placement and Support is an evidence-based model of supported employment for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. Individual Placement and Support provides a team approach to services. Individuals work with an employment support professional, an employment peer mentor, a certified benefits counselor, the integrated behavioral health services team and the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.

Easterseals UCP and PORT Health are trustworthy, compassionate partners providing exceptional disability, behavioral health and addiction treatment services to help our neighbors live their best lives. Purpose, dedication and empathy drive our in-person and telehealth service delivery. Our diverse and inclusive 2,600 member team provides more than 10.2 million hours of meaningful support to 40,200 kids, adults and families in 11,000 home, facility and community locations across North Carolina and Virginia. Learn more at eastersealsucp.com.