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CPS Blog: Our Community Has Lost a Friend

January 8, 2018

By the friends of Shavonne Carpenter

On December 5, 2017, Mental Health America and our Center for Peer Support lost a dear friend, colleague, and superstar, Shavonne Carpenter. Shavonne was the walking epitome of that powerful human dynamic, resiliency. Every day of her adult life she lived with auditory and sometimes visual hallucinations, and yet she was one of the best peer supporters we have had the honor to work with. Shavonne ran our Social Self-Directed Care programs, It’s My Life and Peer Partners. Shavonne was just 32 years old when she passed and during her far too brief life, she brought hope to thousands of individuals living with psychiatric disorders.

Shavonne’s life mission was dedicated to mental health wellness and support. Her passion and tenacity to educate and mentor others about mental health were remarkable. She took great pride in her work at Mental Health America and was a key member of our family. Additionally, Shavonne could often be found volunteering at many organizations in the Northern Virginia area. Shavonne founded the Minds on the MISSION support group for people living with depression and bipolar disorder.

Her experience in providing peer support came from her years of working in the Eleanor U. Kennedy Homeless Shelter and as a Direct Support Professional in a community residential group home for individuals with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. Shavonne joined MHA in 2013 and in 2016 she achieved state certification in Virginia as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist.

Shavonne’s work in assisting individuals with serious psychiatric disorders to overcome the barriers to social inclusion was groundbreaking. Shavonne was instrumental in the development of our It’s My Life; Social Self-Directed Care program. In the initial two year pilot, Shavonne worked as a Life Coach trained in psychiatric rehabilitation, self-directed care, and professional life coaching. The outcomes of the project greatly exceeded our expectations. At the close of the pilot, Shavonne became our Head Trainer for It’s My Life and our new support group model, Peer Partners. Shavonne worked with mental health groups around the country and internationally to bring the programs to peers who have struggled with isolation and social exclusion.

Shavonne was loved by many and will be remembered as a woman with a generous heart of gold. Despite the physical and mental challenges, she dealt with on a daily basis, she always put the needs and wants of others before her own. Shavonne was a highly spiritual person and her family takes great comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and has found a new home with her Lord and Savior.

Shavonne’s passing is a loss for all. Mental Health America is dedicated to continuing her life’s work by expanding the Social Self-Directed Care programs nationally and internationally.

We will miss her dearly.

I will always remember the afternoons when Shavonne, Joshua

(her faithful and loving service dog), and I would sit in the

office with the door closed and talk about our lives. In the

beginning my goal was to help Shavonne work through

her work challenges and to focus more on her own self-care.

In the end I came to realize that Shavonne was supporting

me. I can only hope she knew how much I cared about her.”

Patrick Hendry


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