Cherene Caraco, Founder CEO of the Charlotte-based non-profit organization Promise Resource Network, has been honored by the prestigious Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C., as the “Innovator of the Year” for 2021.
The Bazelon Center is well known for playing a key role in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990), and the Olmstead Settlement (1999) in which the Supreme Court ruled that people with mental health diagnoses cannot be segregated in institutions, nursing homes, sheltered workshops, adult care homes, etc. Since 1972, The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has protected human rights and advanced civil rights of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities through cutting edge litigation, progressive federal mental health legislation, policy analysis and research, and innovative practice change.
Cherene Caraco’s commitment to mental health recovery spans 28 years of state, national and international efforts to reform pathology-based treatments and policies while introducing alternatives that promote healing, wellness and recovery. In North Carolina, Ms. Caraco founded Promise Resource Network (PRN) in 2006 as a survivor led non-profit that serves people that are uninsured and experiencing complex emotional distress, trauma, substance use and poverty related challenges. Since the beginning of COVID, PRN has launched a 24/7 phone warm-line, reaching over 15,000 people to date, has introduced 4 bills with bi-partisan support focused on increasing voluntary, effective crisis prevention and diversion alternatives that reduce the use of police response and involuntary hospitalization, and started a 24/7 peer-run respite in Charlotte, NC, Retreat @ The Plaza, where guests experiencing mental health crises and/or thoughts of suicide can stay free for up to 10 days in a healing, unlocked, “homelike” environment designed as an alternative to emergency department, congregate in-patient, and involuntary commitments. Nationally, PRN is ranked as the 2nd Best Non-Profit in the Country to work for by the Non-Profit Times, following 3 consecutive years ranked in the top 10.
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law will be celebrating Ms. Caraco, along with Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative who will receive their Social Justice Award, Judy Woodruff, Anchor and Managing Editor of PBS NewsHour, the recipient of their Outstanding Ally Award, and Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) who is being recognized as the Congressional Champion, at the virtual Annual Awards ceremony on Monday, October 25, 2021 at 7 P.M. EST.