Chris Celio is Recognized with the Hope Award from the SPIRIT Class of 2022

Contra Costa Behavioral Health Office for Consumerr Empowerment's SPIRIT Class of 2022 awarded the 2022 Hope Award to Chris Celio, Hume's Vice President of Clinical Operations. Chris enjoyed providing four classes to SPIRIT this year and was especially honored to receive such a prestiigoius award from the very talented and engaging 2022 SPIRIT Class.

Chris gave the following acceptance speech to the SPIRIT graduates, their families and friends, SPIRIT alumni, and the leaders and providers from Contra Costa Behavioral Health and county agencies.

"I’d like to start by thanking you all for this great honor. It was truly my honor and a highlight of my year to be a part of this great SPIRIT Class of 2022. More important than that, I’d like everyone to know that Hume is hiring, especially in Richmond, and also that Hume has also partnered with Contra Costa College to offer paid internships for Contra Costa College students.

I’d like to thank everyone at Hume that does the real work to make our SPIRIT Internship program happen, including Adrian, Alika, Karly, Reynold, Pooja, Margaret, Rebecca, Ryanne, and Amelia and everyone else who brings the interns under their wings.

And now I’d like to start with a song, and if you’re of a certain age, sing along.

(lyrics ommited since we don't own the copywrite)

Don McClain wrote that song about a tragedy, when a plane crashed and he lost his musical idol. He used that suffering to express his feelings about that moment and the way the world had gone since then. This was a trauma that shaped him, that he couldn’t let go of, until he found a way to understand his experience and express himself.

When I was in college, I went to volunteer at the Crisis Hotline of Los Angeles. It took 32 hours of weekend training to be accepted as a volunteer. As I entered the classroom, I honestly expected to be joined by fellow psychology college and graduate students. I mean, who else could do that job right?

I was wrong. I was oh so wrong as I was the only one in school there. My fellow volunteers were parents, retired folks, plumbers, and, since it was LA, many actors.

During the month long training, I struggled while the other volunteers flourished.

An actor came up to me toward the end and let me know what might be getting in my way. She said the rest of the class were coming from their hearts, from their own suffering and experiences, and I was coming from my brain and from behind a wall.

So I did what I could to become more present and worked at starting to connect on a human level, with the work and with my own story. I ended up passing the class and being put on the crisis line, and that same actor was on my shift for my first call.

I was freezing up, I was thinking too much. She couldn’t hear the call but she knew what was going on. She nodded her head, and said, “You got this. Use your heart.”

I took a moment, took a breadth, and I let my heart wander, and I remembered that the caller had mentioned she was working on becoming a hip hop artist. I asked her to sing me one of her songs, and after that, we talked about her lyrics.

Her lyrics told her story better than she could say them, and we connected on the various verses, where they came from, and why she chose each word. She had called in crisis, but she decided that her song was too important, and that she needed to keep singing it. She ended the call with purpose, and with hope.

For me, that one call unlocked something in me; it gave me permission to lead with my heart, my compassion, my curiosity, and let the rest happen when it happens.

In SPIRIT, you have all written your own song. You took your experiences in life, and your fellowship in this course, and you chose the lyrics, you picked the tune, and you are singing it loud and proud today. Using your lived experience, you will sing that song throughout your work, and you will harmonize with the experience of those you serve, and it will become a new song each time. 

Those new songs will surprise you often, and take you down verses and choruses you didn’t know you had in you and notes you didn’t know you could create. Sometimes that song will sound beautiful, other times, you’ll have to hold back your judgment as you endure a song that the world wouldn’t see beauty in.

That song is the song of hope. That song will get stuck in your head, and it will get stuck in your consumer’s head. Hope has a way of doing that. Once it’s there, it tries to stick around, and it tries to build on itself, even if we don’t want to sing a happy tune. A good song can do that, it can add energy and drive and motivation.

But if no one is singing songs of hope, it’s pretty easy to get lost in despair. Please remember that you are not a solo artist, you are now a part of the choir of the Class of 2022, and a part of the all-time Choir of SPIRIT Graduates, singing songs of hope together, and sometimes you will need others to sing the hope for you, since we all need support systems in this work.

So no matter what you do next, sing your song loud and proud today and every day. Many people along the way sang their songs to you, and you ended up here. And now it’s your turn.

And now more than ever, you are needed.

As the Miles Hall Crisis Hub expands and the county’s Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone program begins, you are the people we are calling on to sing your tune every time, everywhere, and to everyone. This program will utilize people with lived experience to resolve crises in the moment, in the streets and in the homes. Let your song become hope in those moments of despair, for those who were called about, and those who did the calling.

For everyone in this room knows that sometimes it only takes one good song to knock you out of a bad mood, and sometimes it just takes that right moment in a crisis to light up the hope that is needed to find your way out of that darkness.

In conclusion, remember that hope is contagious, so pass it on."

SPIRIT Graduation
July 27, 2022