Rotary House Retreat is made up of a Core Team comprised of a silent Rotary Club member, two Clinicians, one lead Peer, and one lead Chaplain. This Core Team makes staffing decisions and program changes as needed. They have shown to be trustworthy, honest, hopeful, and have the ability to put others' needs before their own.
Selection of potential Peers and Chaplains is at the sole discretion of the Rotary House Retreat Core Team. It is the intent of the Rotary House Retreat Core Team to accept only the most appropriate staff to serve at RHR. The Rotary House Retreat Core Team is committed to the highest standards in the selection and screening of Peer and Chaplain staff.
Peers have a distinctive ability to breakdown the fallacy of uniqueness, demonstrating to you, the guest, that you are not alone in what you are experiencing and what you are going through is normal. Peers can help you cope with the myth of invulnerability and work closely with you to develop a more rational and healthy perspective of your own experiences. Peers serve as role models and assist in the development of appropriate coping skills and work in conjunction with clinicians to help you develop your own long-term wellness program. Peers are committed to follow-up and ongoing support for all guests and the first responder community at large. After the retreat, they will be available by phone or e-mail and will continue to help you move forward toward a hopeful and dynamic future.
Rotary House Retreat is “peer driven and clinically guided.” Credible peers can validate First Responder reactions to critical incidents more effectively than clinicians by being uniquely experienced in similar situations. Being from the same or similar cultures, peers can introduce and model new, healthier coping skills to assist you in your recovery. A collective clinical understanding, facilitated through a peer/clinician alliance, offers the most support as you begin to sort through your experiences, reactions, emotions, and start making decisions about your mental and physical health, recovery, and future.
Each member of the Peer Support Team for Rotary House Retreat is trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), peer-to-peer strategic communication (Basic and Advanced Peer Support Training), and RHR's own First Responder Self Care plan (FRiSC). Peers are trained to recognize and refer cases that are beyond their scope of training or require professional mental health intervention.
The goal of chaplain support is to provide the First Responder Guest the opportunity to receive spiritually-based emotional and tangible support during their time at RHR. The chaplains participate in discussions and offer private opportunities for Guests to strengthen their spiritual connections and experience another avenue of support.
Just like our Peers, each RHR Chaplain has been professional vetted and trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), peer-to-peer strategic communication (Basic and Advanced Peer Support Training) and RHR's own First Responder Self Care plan, or FRiSC. Most of our Chaplains are previous First Responders or work on a daily basis with the first responder community. They too are trained to recognize and refer cases that are beyond their scope of training or require professional mental health intervention.
Over lunch approximately ten years ago, Juanita Buck and her friend Neil Record started the conversation about how to provide support for First Responders due to the trauma and stress related to the job. Neil recognized the need, but did not know how to approach the idea to anyone and there were no programs available at the time that were First Responder friendly. The conversation came up again five years later at a Rotary Club meeting while trying to determine a retreat site to support veterans. However, the need for mental health support for First Responders was, and is, very dire as there is still minimal community support and exceptionally few trained mental health professionals that specialize in the first responder population. Rotary Club decided to take on the challenge, and Rotary House Retreat, or RHR, was born.
Juanita lives in Tehachapi, CA and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from California State University Bakersfield. Juanita went on to earn her Master of Science degree in Counseling from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. She has been a mental health professional for over 15 years with the majority of that experience spent working with first responders in civilian crisis and suicide situations. Juanita has served as a team member and then Supervisor of the Kern County Mental Health Mobile Evaluation Team as well as a private practice clinician.
Juanita is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management and has participated in critical incident debriefings for Kern County Sheriff’s Office and other community agencies. She is also a certified trainer of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR)—a community suicide prevention program. Juanita has also completed the Red Cross Psychological First Aid class.
Juanita is the clinical lead for Rotary House Retreat and co-partners with Sunny Mueller in the daily mechanics, creativity, and curriculum of the program. Together they have a created a meaningful and healing program to serve all First Responders who are in need of support, encouragement, hope, and meaning for their lives.
Sunny M. Mueller graduated from California State University Bakersfield with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. She later went on to earn her Teaching Credential and served as a teacher in the field of education for eight years before completing her Master of Science degree in Educational Counseling in 2007. Sunny then became a School Counselor and worked in one of Bakersfield’s toughest inner-city middle schools. She began taking her clinical classes to obtain her California board license of which she was granted in November of 2013.
Sunny provided immediate interventions with individuals in crisis/suicidal for five years on a local suicide hotline. She has extensive experience in psychoeducation, intervention, prevention, and outreach efforts regarding suicide, crisis, and trauma. Additionally, Sunny has specialized training in domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and grief/loss. She volunteers her time with the Kern Medical Reserve Corps, the Red Cross, and at Adventist Health Hospital.
Sunny lives in Bakersfield, CA and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in private practice specializing in crisis/suicidality and the treatment of stress- and trauma-related disorders, especially within the First Responder community. She is National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC). Sunny is designated as a Master Trainer for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and is a trainer for the Youth Mental Health First Aid program. She has also trained to be a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) facilitator and is currently an American Association of Suicidology Certified Individual Crisis Worker.
Rotary House Retreat is a labor of love for Sunny and she is grateful to be in a position to be able to give back to the First Responders who sacrifice so very much for their communities.