By: Shelley McKinley

Omar Sesay, Program Director for  e Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, currently leads three outreach programs that target the homeless of Harris County with the intent of reducing the number of people living on the streets. The programs are: PATH which stands for Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness; HOT which stands for Homeless Outreach Program; and SUDOP which stands for Substance Use Disorder Outreach Program. Each of these programs focus on the individual and what he or she needs immediately, like shelter, followed by a menu of services. As Sesay explains, “There is a difference between mental health and mental illness. We all have mental health. Protect it. It is okay to seek assistance.”


PATH is a program that provides clinical mental health and non-clinical services to adults ages 18 or older who are both homeless and have a mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorder. The goal of the program is to improve the individual’s quality of life by connecting them with ongoing outpatient mental health services at The Harris Center. Intakes for new clients are performed every morning on a  rst-come,  rst-serve basis. Individuals experiencing homelessness can walk-in to request services (no referral required). Individuals may also be referred by other shelters and homeless providers, other Harris Center programs, Houston Police Department (HPD), Harris County Sheri ’s O ce (HCS), Homeless Outreach Team, or local hospitals.  The PATH program is a grantfunded program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).


HOT is a specialized team of one sergeant, six HPD Police Officers, one Metro PD o cer, one senior peace o cer, and three Mental Health Care Coordinators who engage in street outreach to the homeless community to provide outreach services and case management to individuals who are homeless and experiencing a serious behavioral illness.  The goal of the team is to reduce the number of people who are homeless and living on the streets.  The HOT Team collaborates with the Houston Police Department’s Mental Health Division to serve individuals of all ages. Referrals may come from the client, family, friends, law enforcement, businesses, or agencies. Services include referrals for housing (i.e., shelters, personal care homes, sober living facilities, etc.), social services, substance use treatment, behavioral health treatment, and primary healthcare. Admissions to more restrictive levels of care when necessary are also made.


SUDOP allows Community Health Workers to provide intake assessments and make referrals to detox and/or outpatient services for individuals in the community. SUDOP operates as a community outreach program that responds to individuals experiencing substance use disorders and/ or mental health disorders who desire change and need assistance in building a foundation for their recovery.  e SUDOP team is a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN), Master-Level Clinicians, Care Coordinators, Psychiatric Technicians, and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDC). SUDOP services are available for adolescents and adults ages 14 years or older.


In his spare time, Sesay also serves as the Team Behavioral Health Clinician for the Houston Texans which he has done for the past four years. In a Dec. 2022 Houston Chronicle interview, Tavierre  Thomas credited Sesay for advising him to embrace counseling and focus on his mental health following an injury. Initially  Thomas got texts from Sesay, but eventually returned the texts with phone calls, starting his counseling journey. “ is role  ts me. I come from a family of athletes. I played college basketball on a scholarship and my brother played professional basketball. My parents are immigrants from Sierra Leone and my father played soccer professionally. My sisters were athletes, too,” stated Sesay describing how he relates to the Houston Texans players.


Sesay is a board member of B Free 2 Fly International (BF2F), an organization near and dear to his heart because it is a non-pro t organization addressing domestic violence. He advocates for his younger sister who was murdered in 2016 by her boyfriend. Education and prevention are some of the services that the organization provides. Concerning mental health in the Black community, Sesay commented, “Society has given a false perception of mental illness. Stigma is still there so people  find ways to mask it. We have to check on each other and not allow things to get worse. Black mothers are seeking help for their sons. It is also becoming more prevalent for males to seek help.” Sesay’s background is unique allowing for a Pan-African perspective. He immigrated from Sierra Leonne in the 8th grade when his parents sent for him. Omar Sesay is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S). He is a graduate of Willowridge High School, and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas. He got his Master’s degree at Prairie View A&M University, and is currently a Ph.D. Health Psychology Candidate at Walden University. He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and several state and national counseling organizations.

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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