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Topic: Multicultural Wellness, the Holidays, and You: Creating New Meaning and Ways to Celebrate (In English)

Date: December 16th, 2009

Time:  5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

For many of us, the holidays can be occasions for getting together to celebrate. For
others, though, the holidays can be a difficult and stressful time of encountering cultural
differences, demanding or challenging family dynamics, and uncomfortable feelings
that are associated with unpleasant experiences from years past.

This session will provide an opportunity to discuss and share about cultural celebrations,
attitudes, and rituals that can help to lessen distress that can arise, and will invite
participants to claim new meaning and adopt new ways of celebrating that tap into
creative, affirming, and recovery/wellness-oriented thinking.


Mertice “Gitane” Williams is the Vocational Wellness Educator at Crestwood Behavioral Health and travels across the state to support and educate consumers, staff and families throughout the Crestwood network and beyond. Gitane has over 20 years experience as a community self-help leader in California. Her expertise include housing, cultural competency, SSI and collaborating with others to build learning communities for all ages. She is currently part of the Crestwood Leadership team, where she creates and designs pre-vocational and re-entry programs.

As a Vocational Wellness Educator and community navigator of the human race, having a spiritual experience, her deepest intention includes increasing her consciousness to enable transformational systems that are inclusive of everyone personal wellness and spiritual growth. Her vision is to support and enhance client/family members in welcoming attitudinal changes to allow healing in all cultural communities. Her prayer is that we also embrace the healing of the environment, intergenerational racial trauma, and leave peace as legacy to the next generation.

John Aldam is a Licensed Practical Nurse who worked ten years as an emergency room, medical/surgical, and psych nurse. He is also a Certified Peer Specialist and Wellness Resource Consultant leading healthy lifestyle groups and workshops both within the mental health community and at private retreat centers. He has presented at Medical Grand Rounds at hospitals in Western Mass. He has facilitated workshops at local and national conferences on wellness and trauma-informed practices.

In 2005 John received the Advocacy Award from the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium, the 2005 Massachusetts State House of Representations Citation Advocacy Award, and the 2005 Outstanding Community Service Award from the US House of Representatives, presented by John Olver. In 2006 John received the NAMI Heroes in the Fight Award. He has served on the boards of the Berkshire County NAMI chapter and the Citizen Monitoring Committee, Transformation Center in Boston. John is currently an active member of the Health Initiative task force in Mass.

John does consulting work for local community mental health centers in Western Mass, as a peer educator, mentor of transitional age youth, and leader of recovery groups and a WRAP Facilitator. He is a member of the Recovery Task Force that promoted recovery services in Berkshire County, and since 2006, has volunteered as a peer supporter and recovery group leader in the inpatient units at local community hospitals, where doctors in training have been required to attend one of his groups as part of their rotation.

Learning Objectives:

  • Outline some of the multicultural aspects of the holidays that can be challenging and demanding
  • Explore how situations for potential conflict can be seen as opportunities for further growth and personal enjoyment
  • Identify activities, thoughts, and approaches that can help minimize stress and maximize the possibility of creating new meaning




If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.


Find resources by community:


African American

Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders

Native Americans Alaskan Natives


Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning & Intersex

Coming soon:

Youth and Students


Older Americans

Links to resources in languages other than English.

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