By Alice Kenny
Dennis J. Scimone, director of residential services for Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope House, was honored by the Staten Island Behavioral Network, a not-for-profit agency dedicated to providing case management services and affordable housing to the mentally ill, at their tenth anniversary celebration held on January 23, 2013 at the Staten Island Hilton.
A native of New York City, Dennis joined Beacon of Hope House, a Catholic Charities organization that operates residences and a club house program for the mentally ill, in 1989. He recently completed his thirty-eighth year of service in the mental health field.
“We all must learn to understand, accept, respect and appreciate the differences of all members of society,” he said, “regardless of race, religion, culture, gender, age, sexual orientation, ability or disability.”
At Catholic Charities, Dennis was initially appointed to manage Beacon of Hope House residential services for the mentally ill in Staten Island including community residences and scattered-site apartment programs. He was appointed as the agency’s Regional Director for Staten Island- Brooklyn Services in 1995. He has served as the Director of Residential services since 2002, providing oversight for multiple levels of housing programs in Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
He has a Master of Social Work Degree from Hunter College and a Masters Degree in public Administration from Long Island University. In the early stages of his career, he worked with youngsters with development disabilities, and adolescents in drug-prevention programs and adults in methadone maintenance programs. He later worked in a psychiatric inpatient setting, partial hospitalization programs, mental health clinics and management service.
Dennis has been affiliated part-time with Neighborhood Counseling Center since 1985 where he has served in a variety of roles including psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, instructor and administrator. Dennis served as chairperson for the Mental Health Council of Staten Island from 1999- 2001.
A resident of Staten Island, he says he enjoys local cultural events, eateries and historic sites with his wife, Linda.
Dennis is credited with consistently advocating for mental health services and funding to address gaps in existing services. He strongly believes, he says, that the active practice of tolerance is essential to all communities. He would like to see this as a standard topic included in all the curriculums of the nation’s educational system.
“Our efforts to succeed in this area will make our communities stronger and will improve the quality of life for every member of the community.”