Recent News

14 participants of Mid Valley Outpatient...

on March 8, and had their cases dismissed by Commissioner Jose Rodriguez. Drug Court participants frequently spend up to two years attending groups and developing a Twelve Step support system, going back to school, and finding employment before they are eligible to graduate from the program. The graduates were given a graduation certificate, a copy of their book in photo, and had the opportunity to address the judge about the changes they had made in their lives. Graduate Michael C. spent time at Omni Center to develop a recovery base and has since earned his driver’s license and is in his second semester at a local college. Graduate Flavia L. is happily parenting a baby daughter and is completing an internship at a local substance abuse treatment facility to finish up her counseling education. Staff of Mid Valley, SMRS CEO Jim O’Connell, Board of Directors member Jerry Brown, and friends, family, and peers, were there to share this special day with the graduates.

UCEPP youth leaders were recently visited by...

UCEPP youth leaders were recently visited by Scott Budnick, producer of the film “The Hangover”. He shared stories of his background, talked about his work with incarcerated youth, and conveyed his commitment to assist young people in succeeding academically. His visit was inspiring and we are hopeful that his resources and passion will continue to aide young people in need for many years to come.

Last month, UCEPP youth leaders participated in a rally and attended a public hearing regarding daytime curfew and truancy fines in the City of Los Angeles. These laws disproportionately affect low income youth of color. The City Council voted 14-0 to preliminarily approve a new law that would reduce the current fine from $250 to $20 for the third offense and result in community service or participation in a rehabilitating program for the first two offenses. In the past, these fines could end up costing more than $800. A few of our youth leaders were interviewed regarding their views on this issue, and it was also their first visit to City Hall to attend a public hearing. Congratulations for your participation in the political process!

Recent happenings at Omni Center

The New Year has brought many exciting changes and happenings to Omni Center. With a huge effort by our residents, Omni Center’s landscape is undergoing a much needed beautification. Resident work-horse Sam S. took charge of the bulk of the landscaping work, and was ably assisted by fellow resident Alex A.

We hosted our first Board of Director’s luncheon on January 25.  Omni Program Director Andrew Peckich and Mid Valley Outpatient Program Director Garett Staley both made presentations about their respective programs at the meeting.  


On February 24, we proudly honored five graduates of our program. Raul V, Justin T, John R., Patrick M. and Chris P. shared incredibly touching thoughts about their paths in recovery, paying homage to family, staff, sponsors and friends who have shown ongoing support and love throughout the journey.

River Community is proud to commend Mr. Manoj L....

River Community is proud to commend Mr. Manoj L. as River Community's most recent graduate. Manoj hosted a cultural celebration about the wonders of Nepal, served as Resident President and pursued his recovery with the knowledge that his life depended on it. Manoj was also recognized as someone who attended all of his groups, completed all of his chores, participated in all of his meal crews and never received an extra duty from staff. During his graduation he received a certificate of Bridge to Success. In the words of Manoj, "River has saved my life and changed me forever."

in our Cultural Celebration series we were...

River Community was proud to host another in our Cultural Celebration series. This time the participants and staff were magically transported to the Emerald Isle as we discovered the rich culture and amazing heritage of Ireland. We learned about the Blarney Stone, the Irish gift of gab, and the rich spiritual heritage of the Irish going all the way back to the Celts. Needless to say, no culture is truly expressed in a more satisfying way than through its food. Patrick coordinated a truly authentic Irish experience, right down to the Bread Pudding, which was a gastronomical delight.

River Community Covina and River Community...

The participants of River Community Covina and River Community Wellness Center celebrated Black History Month by creating a PowerPoint presentation highlighting some of the milestones in Black history starting with the fact that in 1926, Black History Month was originally “Negro History Week”. The presentation included conversations about W.E.B. DuBois (Founder of the NAACP), when Blacks were given the right to vote, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and the civil rights movement. After the presentation, participants were treated to a feast of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and candied yams -- all cooked by one of their peers.

Annual Alumni Picnic

Touchstones alumni held their Annual Alumni Picnic on Saturday, February 25. Close to 60 alumni and several of their family members (including alumni’s own children in two cases) attended the event and enjoyed games of volleyball (clearly, staff need a little more time in the garage on the workout equipment), Bingo, face painting, Hula Hoop competitions (someone needs to tell Patti O the Hula Hoop belongs around her waist), and sharing tales of “when I was at Touchstones” with one another. Prizes were awarded, laughter filled the park and everyone enjoyed bbq’d hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans and lots of picnic goodies along with a celebration cake. Two former residents shared their sobriety birthdays at the event and one of them said, “I am so grateful that Social Model Recovery Systems founded Touchstones. It saved my life”.

Current residents and several family members attended the picnic as well and one current resident already started making plans for next year’s picnic when he would be an alumni. The earliest class of alumni attending was 2003, and the furthest traveled to attend the picnic came from San Diego. A special thanks to Touchstones counselor Irene for organizing the event, counselors Alejandra, Elvita, Eddie, Gilbert, Joshua and Manny, Barbara, and Duffey for their commitment and enthusiasm to Touchstones residents and alumni.