Celebrating Diversity – Conrad Sienkiewicz, Case Manager at Hotchkiss House


I want to welcome back to the microphone a gentleman who’s been on the air with us before in a different capacity, but this time he’s here as a case manager with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. Welcome back, Conrad Sienkiewicz.

Good morning, Dale. Good to be here.

Thanks for joining us on the show. So you’ve been with McCall for a couple of years. And we’re going to talk a little bit about this being Pride Month. There’s a lot happening with our population, our community, the LGBTQIA+. Difficult to cover it all. We’re going to talk a little bit about it though and really kind of a three-pronged approach here. Let’s start with the way McCall is set up to serve all communities including this one.

Yes, absolutely. At McCall we offer a wide variety of services for a wide variety of people. We understand that this is a diverse population. A lot of people think, oh, Litchfield Hills very homogenous, but there’s a growing change with diversity here in the area.

But I think really the community has been with us all along. Yes. I think I would say a little more, much more visible now.

Excellent point. Yes, most definitely.

So with that in mind, having that diverse service core to help that population better deliver the services to them. Let’s talk about how that manifests between the two.

Sure. There’s been a lot of talk lately about staff shortages and things like that, and McCall strives to build a diverse staff. We have an IDEA workgroup, which stands for Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility. We meet once a month to look at ways where we can welcome people and welcome staff in ways that are diverse. We’ve got trainings that we use on Zoom and in person, and working our hardest to make sure that we have a diverse staff, all different kinds of people.

So when folks need the services of McCall, and they’re from the community we’re talking about today, is there a particular need that they have? Is there something that differentiates themselves that leads to again having that staff that is plugged into that better able to answer that need?

I think a lot of folks are looking for a welcoming and non-judgmental environment and as you were saying these folks have always been with us but not always felt welcome not always felt embraced so at McCall we really do try to be welcoming and non-judgmental so that folks can address their needs without having to worry about whether they’re going to be accepted.

 It can kind of be a second layer, a second barrier to trying to reach through and get the treatment they need because we’ve had a lot of conversations with McCall. Folks who get their services are coming from a place of pain in which they’ve answered that pain usually with some kind of substance that has then taken over their life. And when they get to McCall, they want to change that narrative. So, there is a stigma attached to people who are battling substance. You add the additional stigma, which a lot of folks who identify from the LGBTQIA plus community, trying to overcome that as well. So that’s a second layer to it.

So having that welcoming environment adds to be able to to reach those needs. You have a particular feeling that you have about the pride flag.

I do.

And the appropriateness. Share that with us.

I do. I love the pride flag. I’m in my late 50s, and I’ve seen that flag evolve. So often, we tend to look at the world through a binary lens. either good or bad, high or low, Coke or Pepsi, cats or dogs, and yet not everyone, you know, feels comfortable with one of those two labels. There’s so much in between and such a variety of life and living. And I think the pride flag, like the rainbow itself, you know, is all colors. Everyone is in there. Every shade is in there. And it’s natural and everyone is there.

So let me go ahead and get that the big old piece in the room identity politics short and that is so big right now with election politics and you’ve got uh… the most vocal sides of both parties from the far this side of the for that side uh… making their views known about this community and about uh… ways in which it should be accepted or handled or what have you. Does that make, I mean especially right now, given the current climate now, does that make the mission of McCall even more challenging?

It can. It most definitely can. We’re just trying to meet people where they’re at and just letting people know that who they are is okay. And as you and I were talking about earlier, you know, change and evolution. If we know anything about this world, survival involves change. So we are helping people to change as best as we can.

For folks who don’t have a lot of knowledge about the community, and I mean it is a spectrum community. It’s very broad. It’s like the flag, like you said. I grew up at a time where we were aware of the gay community, but that was as deep as it got. Now it seems that there is so many more facets of this community that want their identity known. Honestly, it can be very confusing for a lot of members of the general public. What do we say to folks who are trying to grapple with this and trying to have an understanding, but it only seems to get more complicated.

Ask questions. Be open-minded. I think starting with relationships, someone that you’re comfortable with, to ask a question. I ask questions of my 17-year-old daughter. Her generation seems to have more words to talk about what my generation struggled with when we were in our teens

I think people worry about sounding stupid or ignorant or insulting. If they do ask a question, it’s like is my question going to come off as bad. I admit this is this is a difficult landscape.

Yes, it is and some people are so quick to say oh I’m offended, and it’s not always being offended but just being uncomfortable and that’s okay we’ve all felt our moments of being uncomfortable.

Our guest this morning, Conrad Sinkiewicz, he’s a case manager with the McCall Behavioral Health Network. And I wish we had about 20 more minutes. We don’t. We’ve got about a minute. I want you to just really sum up your feelings and those of the folks at McCall in this month, in this Pride Month, in what they deliver to community and the message they want to make sure that the community, the LGBTQIA plus community should know as far as the folks from McCall.

All are welcome. We have BIPOC, Black Indigenous People of Color Recovery Support Group on Sunday evenings at 6 PM We have our LGBTQ plus peer-to-peer recovery support group Saturdays at 7 PM. We’ve been flying the pride flag not just for June but all year because that’s something that we just feel very strongly with. 

I appreciate you coming in this morning and giving us a little glimpse a little understanding we appreciate it. 

Thank you Dale.

Any move forward is a good one. Thank you, Conrad. Conrad Sienkiewicz, Case Manager with McCall Behavioral Health Network. Guest this time on FM 97.3. We’ll get to the newsroom with Jeff next.