by Howard Diamond 

January 15, 2021

January is here and we are only a few days into 2021. Most of us have been affected one way or another by COVID19. Too many suffered, too many died. As of this writing, there are two vaccines and reasons for optimism that 2021 will be better. Yes, there will be changes, but will be good enough to excite our interests or make our lives better to put us in a positive frame of mind and put us on the long and winding road. No, neither of the Beatles roads, Abbey Road or the Long and Winding Road. Not the yellow brick road, from the Wizard Of Oz. It is our ROAD TO SUCCESS, Yes, our road to success! 

gray tunnel
Photo by Aldiyar Seitkassymov on Pexels.com

Eight days and eight nights of Chanukah have now come and gone. Did Jewish people, get their gifts? Probably not, too much struggle in many places around the world. In many of the windows were pretty menorahs shining in the night. Many evenings, I smelled the latkes (potato pancakes) being fried on the stove. In the ovens were turkeys not quite ready to be carved. While the kids were playing dreidels and singing CHANUKAH SONGS in three different languages, English, Hebrew and Yiddush.

Was this a good year or a bad one? Success and failure is different for each of us, but we do strive for the former. Despite his valiant efforts, President Trump, lost the November elections. His successor, Joseph Biden was recently inaugurated on January 20, 2021 as the 46th President of the United States and right before, Senator Kamala Harris, from California was sworn in and became Vice-President. History was made as Sen. Harris was the first Black Asian Female Vice-President of the United States. Is this a good change or not? Only time will tell.

My preference is to stay in the positive and reflect. Although, I do not want the snow, I do my best to accept it as it falls from the sky, Deciding to gaze outside the open window and feel the snow as it glistens on my unprotected hand, sometimes reaching out to grab a few to make little snowmen for others to witness. Meanwhile, from another home, I heard a stereo playing CHRISTMAS CAROLS for anyone to sing, dance, or just and enjoy. Let’s not worry there are plenty of trees, all decorated with shiny ornaments in red and green, yellow and blue to make the night bright. While others are watching a variety of classic holiday movies like, “A Christmas Carol” or “Home Alone” or “Christmas Story”. Also, in the air I can smell turkeys roasting, hams glazing, biscuits frying and an array of desserts baking all emitting odors from the assortment of kitchens. 


gold and white floral wreath
Photo by Julia Larson on Pexels.com

As December arrived most of us did cheer
Several faiths call this time the festival of lights
Getting ready for a celebration of a new year
To get through all the days and the nights

For some they spent these times alone
Little or no family or friends to spend the days
Many are lonely and basically have no one
Far away from people and the sun rays

Sleep and rest when we can
Taking a shower to start my day
Today I am going to feel like a man
Seizing each moment in every way

During last month most of us prepared for the year ahead
Not knowing when someone will be getting a call on their phone
While others want a safe place to live with a comfortable bed
Wishing for a healthier life for me and for you in the year 2021.

Awakening from my daydream of holidays past, this concludes with the last previous paragraph.  Now, I am thinking or dreaming about some of my holidays with my significant other, Maureen who died on Friday June 12, 2015. On December 11, we would have been married 15 years. When I think about her here or somewhere else, I can only imagine how my life would be different. Sweetie, I love you, I miss you, and I still wish you were beside me here. SEE YOU IN THE NEWS BLOGS.

Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island 


by Howard Diamond 

January 1, 2021

woman wearing a face mask on the subway
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Look, look to the year ahead
COVID19 is about all that was said
Unfortunately thousands of humans are dead
Still not many alternatives to do instead.

Look, look ahead for there is greatness and joy 
Harder to seek out for what we can enjoy
Did we even get a holiday toy
Whether we are a girl or a boy.

Look, look ahead and not behind
Not able to see the wonders of mankind
2020 was real not a dream of the mind
There are still many people that are kind.

Look, look ahead and do not despair
Life is never perfect hard to continue or even care
Difficult to take any risks or able to dare
Even if we believe that life is not fair.

Look, look ahead and not back
Try to achieve what last year did lack
Hopefully we can eat inside, Whopper or Big Mac
Follow President Biden because he is leader of the pack.

Look, look ahead it is now 2021
In 2020 we saw lots of violence especially with people owning a gun
COVID19 took many lives, but remain resilient our work is not done
Let’s try to make this a great year and have some fun.

Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island


WISHING FOR NO MORE COVID-19                

by Howard Diamond

woman in brown dress holding white plastic bottle painting
Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

Wishing for no more COVID19 
The worst virus mankind has ever seen
No one saw this coming, it was unforeseen
For too many people, it became extremely mean.

This year COVID19 will actually leave
At least that is what I want to believe
Many others are still needing to grieve
Waiting to see what COVID19 has up its sleeve.

Wishing for no more COVID19 to occur
It did not pass us by like a blur
Too much for all of us to endure
Now it is time that we find a cure.

Outside we continue to wear a mask
Going inside a restaurant is still a task
Some people are still drinking from their flask
No more COVID19 is all that I ask.

Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island 

Welcome to our Blog

(Original Post: September 10, 2016)

virtual community

Welcome to the APS Virtual Learning Community Blog. This is a place where peer support workers and all others who are involved in the growing peer workforce can share ideas, learn more about what’s happening in the peer community and support each other. We invite your contributions and ideas! Similar to a community garden, this virtual community will grow and thrive with each person who gets involved. Join us in this space for personal and professional growth to strengthen the peer support workforce for ourselves, our co-workers, the people we support and their families, and ultimately our ‘real’ communities. . We’re glad you’re here! ~ Rita Cronise / APS VLC Coordinator

2016 – 2020 Blogs

Link to past Blogs

The Academy of Peer Services (APS) Virtual Learning Community website was started in 2016. In the fall of 2020, the site was redesigned and the Blog was temporarily discontinued until we had the ability to preserve past posts, in reverse Chronological order.

assorted vinyl record lot
Photo by Robin McPherson on Pexels.com

Click here for a PDF of the Virtual Learning Community Blog posts prior to December 2020.

Tributes to Bill Anthony, compiled by Lori Ashcraft

William Anthony passed away in 2020. As the founder of Boston University’s Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, he is often credited with the inspirational leadership that guided the mental health field through paradigm shifts to ensure the possibility that individuals with psychiatric conditions could regain valued roles in the community. Below you will find in the words of other pioneers and leaders in the field, the impact Bill Anthony had on them and those around them.

Text Box: Photo Credit: Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Introduction by Lori Ashcraft

I was honored when asked to write a tribute for Bill Anthony. Bill and I worked closely together, usually writing article for publication, sometimes just exploring new ideas, or new ways to approach the learning processes, always searching for new ways to present information that would inspire readers to dig deeper; deeper into the literature and deeper into their own being, always in search of the compassion required to do this work effectively. Sometimes Camille joined in, offering suggestions, or making fun of us for getting stuck in our own ruts.

I let a few days go by before taking up the pen, waiting for the necessary inspiration to do right by Bill – to write from a place of bottomless truth and compassion in order to honor the amazing human being that he was. Finally, I started writing. (You’ll come across the piece I contributed later in this chapter.) Then I stopped. I wasn’t sure what to write next, so I waited for the next flash of inspiration.

It was in that space of waiting that I realized why I didn’t have anything else to say. The rest of the story was not mine to write. It was to be written by others who knew and loved Bill. Together we could write a much better symphony than I could on my own. So, I opened the door to others, offering them the opportunity to add their voices in remembrance of Bill and the legacy he left us.

That’s what you’ll find in this tribute – many voices that harmonize beautifully as the story unfolds. You’ll find some common themes repeated – perhaps the most poignant being references to Bill’s love of the poetry of Robert Frost, whether it be the telling of taking down walls or taking the less traveled path at crucial choice points.

I can tell you a few things about the voices in this tribute. Without exception, they are all “wall taker-downers”, and they are walkers of the “less chosen path” –always in the interest of supporting the amazing, courageous, enduring people we serve, until those people could rise on their own, and fly on bent and battered wings, toward their own destiny, often looking over their shoulders at us, knowing that we had their back if they needed anything further form us.

So we wish you well as you read these tributes. We hope the love we have all received from Bill will seep into your hearts, giving you the courage and compassion needed to do the real work of recovery.


  • Courtenay Harding
  • Art Dell Orto
  • Lori Ashcraft
  • Gene Johnson
  • Edye Swartz
  • Dori Hutchinson
  • Harvey Rosenthal
  • Marianne Farkas
  • Andy Bernstein
  • Sally Rogers
  • David Bucciferro
  • Kevin Ann Huckshorn

To view the Tributes, click here.