NOTE: The Cape May County Herald is offering full coverage of the COVID-19 / coronavirus emergency to all, with no payment required. We are committed to ensuring our readers can make critical decisions for themselves and their families during this ongoing situation. To continue supporting this vital reporting, please consider a digital subscription or contribution. For more coverage, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is pleased to announce that Sorida Lopez, MS has been named as the latest Behavioral Healthcare Hero! Ms. Lopez works at Taylorcare Behavioral Health in Galloway, New Jersey as a Community Liaison. Taylorcare Behavioral Health is a Partial Care Day program that provides counseling and support services to clients in Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May counties. In addition to serving clients with mental illness, they also treat clients with developmental disabilities and those struggling with substance use disorder.

Ms. Lopez has been with Taylorcare since 2017 and contributes to their clients in myriad ways.  As a Community Liaison she is usually in the field meeting with people and developing community relationships. As the pandemic began, everyone thought all client services would have to end like many other community organizations. However, Ms. Lopez took it upon herself to search for and find clients that had attended the day program and petitioned to have them supplied with telephones so they could partake of telehealth. “When the pandemic hit, I practically had to reinvent my job,” stated Ms. Lopez. She also volunteered to gear up with PPE and bring I-pads to client’s homes. State law requires a doctor to have an in-person or tele-visit to prescribe medication; through her efforts the psychiatrists at Taylorcare were able to continue serving clients.

Program Director Ann Irmiere shared, “I am so happy she is on my team because she is so caring with the clients and always professional. She is just a fantastic employee and great with people in the community.”

Furthermore, Ms. Lopez began volunteering twice a week at Turning Point, a homeless center where she offers education and mini workshops on mental health, activities of daily living (ADL), and managing substance use. She is dedicated to providing links for people to get needed services.

Based on her commitment to increasing access to care, Ms. Lopez worked diligently for two years prior to the pandemic to establish the Community Network Association (CNA) of Atlantic County. It was up and running in early 2020 with over 900 Facebook followers just as the lock-down began and it became an instrumental tool during the Covid-19 pandemic for people to get information and assistance. The idea was to build collaboration and synergy among available services. “We wanted to move beyond barriers and connect people to appropriate resources,” said Ms. Lopez. 

Finally, Ms. Lopez is well-known in the community as a bilingual resource offering translations to Taylorcare clients and the Alzheimer’s Association. She has worked with the Galloway Police Department developing programs on de-escalation techniques and how to discern whether a resident is living with Alzheimer’s Disease and/or a mental health challenge. Currently, she is volunteering her time with the Hispanic community in Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May Counties to assist in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and educate people on the safety of Covid vaccines.

CONGRATULATIONS SORIDA LOPEZ! The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is proud to honor this dedicated community leader. Her incredible courage, generosity and compassion are exemplary. Her willingness to give her free time to so many constituencies including people with mental health challenges, people who are   homeless, and people who are food insecure as well as local police and the Hispanic population point to her selfless qualities. Sorida Lopez is the definition of a hero and MHANJ is honored to recognize her as a Behavioral Healthcare Hero!

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey established the Behavioral Healthcare Hero Awards program to recognize unsung heroes in behavioral health who are going “above and beyond” to help people with mental health and substance use disorders and their family members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit https://www.mhanj.org/heroawards/ for more information including guidelines for nominating someone for the Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s Behavioral Healthcare Hero Award.

About the Mental Health Association in New Jersey

The MHANJ is a statewide non-profit organization that strives for children and adults to achieve victory over mental health and substance use disorders through advocacy, education, training, and services. Headquartered in Springfield, the MHANJ also has offices in Atlantic, Hudson and Ocean Counties and affiliates across New Jersey including Essex-Morris, Monmouth and Passaic Counties. For more information, visit www.mhanj.org or call 800-367-8850.


Get 'The Wrap', a new way to get the news.

We wrap up the news from the Shore you love, and deliver it to your inbox, weekly.