Be sure to pick up some Father Bernard’s Blessed Biscuits when you visit the Jamestown Public Market Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., on 3rd Street in downtown Jamestown.
If you don’t have a dog of your own, these locally baked, gluten-free, all-natural dog biscuits can be a special treat for your granddog or a dog friend.
Father Bernard’s Blessed Biscuits is a partnership between the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) and Jamestown’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. A new social enterprise, it was created to support people in recovery as they return to work.
A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) gave a serious boost to MHA’s OPEN – Occupational Peer Empowerment Network – program that began with funding from the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County and the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI).
OPEN’s peer specialists support people in recovery as they enter or return to the workforce. They help them overcome barriers to gaining employment and to thriving as employees. They assist participants to find the resources that enable them to be work-ready and continue to provide a support network on the job.
When COVID forced OPEN to pause, the ARC grant enabled the program to continue, re-tool a bit, involve some new businesses, and take a next step. That step is the creation of Father Bernard’s Blessed Biscuits, a dynamic new social enterprise: a business created to further a social purpose in a financially sustainable way.
Under the leadership of Fr. Luke Fodor, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church made strong connections with the MHA before the COVID-19 pandemic, with services like preparing meals for monthly Recovery Luncheons, sharing space for Refuge Recovery meetings, and funding modest projects.
Now St. Luke’s and the MHA are working together on Father Bernard’s Blessed Biscuits. The project serves as a training ground for participants, to put them on a successful career path by developing and reinforcing skills like resume building, interviewing, financial management, and communication. While technically the enterprise is producing dog biscuits, its real outcome will be getting people in recovery back into the workforce.
With programs in both Jamestown and Dunkirk, the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County is a peer recovery center offering support groups and individual coaching for people looking to improve their lives, deepen wellness, thrive in recovery, or support those on a recovery path. Peers use their personal stories to help people find recovery in their own lives in their own way.
All Mental Health Association services are free.
To learn more about the Mental Health Association, call (716) 661-9044 or visit MHAChautauqua.org  or Facebook.com/MHAChautauqua .