2019 OASAS “Cultural Competence, A Journey to Improved Outcomes" Train-the-Trainer Training Participant Feedback:

(Learn more about this training here)

“I think this was one of the best classes I have taken. I learned ideas in a new way. I had time to process the information. Interacting and discussing the ideas with other participants made it easier to understand. Having a culturally diverse group of participants made the class much better for me. I learned as much about myself as I did about other people.”

“This experience has been extremely valuable in that I felt it was one of the few trainings that truly examined the lens by which the training on cultural insensitivity, cultural incompetency sprang from. For example, in my 25 years as a professional, I've never been invited to the table for a focus group before the development of a STATE authorized curriculum. The experience spoke volumes and said to me ‘I Matter’.”

"There were several things that made my experience a positive one.   

  1. The first thing is that the material was realistic, culturally sensitive and competent.  Moreover, the trainers were empathetic and in touch with many of the social, political and cultural injustices that continue to emerge as we speak.  This training was powerful; and spoke volumes about NYS OASAS, that they would allowed CCSI to present authentically; 
  2. The training experience was cathartic in nature for me because it caused me to take a look at the practical application of the training information.  For example, I was asked to present on the Origins of Personal Trauma; wherein during my preparation for the presentation I was forced to do some retrospection, and introspection.  And what I found was that I was a living witness to this section of the training because I had experienced Abuse, Neglect and growing up in a Household that was Dysfunctional.  This does not include factors such as Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and  the impacts of just being a Black Man in a society that continues to thrives off of systemic and institutionalized racism; 
  3. Finally, there was a portion of the training that I will never forget.  I was reminded of the influence that a strong culturally educated Black Women could have on a Black man who has been beat down so much by White society until he’s subconsciously had begun to forfeit  the struggle.  Yes.  She told me in a strong firm voice. “Call it what it is!” You were treated that way because of the Racism that Exist.  This really touched me as a black man because often times we feel like we are not being heard when we speak about racial injustices that we experience.  Instead we are living in a society that will cripple you and then tell you to get up and run without a cane while also knowing that they crippled you. They will wrongfully convict you and then when you tell them that you are innocent they will sarcastically respond by saying “Sure You are innocent”; and if you mention reparation they will vehemently say to you “I’m not given you 1 Red cent”. "

~Pastor Grayling E. Ferrand, MSA, CASAC

"I have been reflecting on the important training we underwent together, and how extremely relevant it is given all that is occurring, and has continued to occur, in the world. The human race is in the midst of a revolution. An evolution during which many are grieving and experiencing generational trauma. I empathize. I am listening. I am reflecting on what I must do to eliminate racism. I am learning. I stand in support of the rights of all Black, Indigenous and People of Color to live freely, with full inclusion, equity, prosperity and health, with peace of mind. I stand with you in solidarity of working to create an anti-racist society and equitable world.  

My life has been positively impacted by this group. I look forward to hearing how you all are doing! Thank you for supporting me, teaching me, and helping me grow as a human being. I am forever grateful. We need to have a reunion at some point."


"The CCSI Cultural Competency Training is extremely relevant given all that is occurring, and has continued to occur, in the world.

The training challenged me to look at myself honestly and to recognize, identify and reflect on the biases, beliefs and privilege in which I was raised along with acknowledging the educational, economic and political systems that propagate inequality. It revealed to me the lens in which I view Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

The training took me out of my comfort zone--- a necessary journey if one is seeking to recognize, in order to eliminate, implicit bias, microaggressions, systemic racism and oppression.

The training inspired me to change the way I view, and walk in, the world. I am grateful to the trainers, and my fellow cohort members, for supporting me, teaching me, and helping me grow as a human being. I am forever thankful."

~Jerry Farnett, LMSW, CASAC 2, MA
   Case Manager/Community Care Hub
   Adjunct Instructor/Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counseling Program
   Onondaga Community College/SUNY
   NYS OASAS Provider for Cultural Competency Training

Poverty Simulation Participant Feedback:

(Learn more about this interactive experience here)

"Thank you so much for conducting the poverty simulation! What an eye opening experience. I was not sure what to expect walking in that morning, but had some idea that I would be leaving with a different perspective. Not having grown up with many of the struggles that we experienced on Saturday, it was a big eye-opener for me. Even after the first “week,” my “family” and I were beyond stressed and already behind in helping ourselves. The title of the simulation “walk in their shoes” was extremely fitting. The simulation was very well organized and thought out and truly helped me to walk in someone else’s shoes for a few hours. It’s disheartening to think that even for a few hours I was very stressed and overwhelmed, and to think that there are many people that experience this in real life every day, all day. The group discussion at the end was also very helpful and engaging. You truly did a wonderful job conducting, organizing, and helping us all to reflect on how we see other people in the world around us."
~Chealsea Kehrli
   Outreach and Engagement Specialist

"Not only was the simulation exceptional, this follow-up call to action with specific, detailed opportunities is top-notch. I am inspired, motivated and impressed with your work. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect out of the simulation, and growing up in poverty myself, there was a part of me that thought it was going to be a waste of my time. Something along the lines of, “Hmmm, how are they going to simulate all of the bull*#!% being poor brings with it in an hour, this will be hokey,” went through my head. Well, I was wrong. The timing, quick delivery of instructions, and overwhelming amount of to-do’s put me right back into a mindset I remember all too vividly. I found myself diverting to behaviors I’ve worked really hard to move beyond such as: thinking it’s every man for himself, seeing others as tools rather than people, closing myself off to strangers and putting on a hard facade, rationalizing actions that aren’t in line with my values out of necessity. It was powerful. I was on the verge of tears at one point for how easy it is to live a life like that, and how complicated the system of inequalities that all compound to make it possible are. How do we fix it??? On a positive note though, I did feel a sense of being seen. As an adult who does not live in poverty anymore, I was able to see my younger self and my parents with a renewed vision. I felt validated and less shameful about the way I was brought up because it really is a matter of lack and scarcity rather than being “bad people” that contributes to a lot of what I experience. It was a relief to know and it helped me gain more understanding of the complicated sense that I both loved my parents and knew they loved me, but I grew up surrounded by chaos, neglect and trauma—things that aren’t often attributed to loving homes. So, in a long, roundabout way, thank you. And please get as many people as you can to go through this training. It is essential to societal empathy and building what bell hooks deems a love ethic—a community built around supporting each other, sharing, and connecting rather than individualistic, greed, power and dominance."
~Lisa Nichols
   Program Manager

"I have never before experienced such a well planned, effective and efficient stimulation program.  For me, I was reminded in real time, of places, feelings and struggles that are a part of my past.  It reminded me of promises I had made during my hardship, to change the judgment and prejudice of the world as it was and still is. I realized I had done little with that promise. I felt sad, ashamed and angry. The tools provided and those that weren't provided, gave purpose to the risk individuals or families continue  take for survival.  My time spent at the event was thought provoking.  The flexibility of "free will" gave understanding to why one may commit suicide, theft, drugs or allow life to live while their spirit is dead, was proof of my need to do more. I hope my Foundation and business becomes a beacon within my community and surrounding communities implementing or become a part change. Thank you Nancy Sung Shelton for another phenomenal experience!.  Your talent is remarkable and is needed.  You delivered an elegant and seamless experience for me and I am grateful."
~Jenny Dozier
   Community Member

"As a participant in the Poverty Simulation event held on January 11, 2020 at the RIT Inn, please accept my gratitude and amazement at how overcome with empathy your work achieves.  The three-hour “workshop” leaves an indelible impression.  I look forward to sharing the experience with many others."
~Denise Lippa

"I was completely blown away by the level of frustration and anxiety that I felt trying to maneuver as a single teenage mom even for just that hour! I really feel that this experience will help me to better empathize with patrons having a difficult time, as well as come up with more thoughtful programs..."

“This was one of the most profound learning experiences I have had in decades. It is life changing!” 

“I assumed ahead of time that we would be given scarce resources and have to figure out how to get by.  I underestimated the impact of actually trying to do those things - the chaos, the feeling of hopelessness, the "pushiness" of others - it was really a scenario of survival of the fittest.  I have a new respect for the working poor.”
 “I will try my best to put myself in other's shoes and have compassion for the struggles that some of these people have to live with on a daily basis.”

“When approached by people with attitudes. I will remind myself of their possible living conditions.”

“I have a greater understanding of the stress created by having so much to do with limited resources and time.”