Thursday night staff members and friends of Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare (CBH), a leading statewide provider of mental health and addiction recovery services, held a retirement party for its longtime Executive Director and first full-time employee, Peter “Pete” Scerbo, after 49 years with the agency. In addition to testimonials from coworkers and many of the thousands of consumers whose care Scerbo has overseen, the event featured the surprise announcement of the Peter Scerbo Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to CBH consumers to support them in their efforts to pursue their dreams. Thanks to the generosity of Scerbo’s friends, colleagues, and members of the CBH Board of Trustees, $42,000 was raised for the fund’s initial endowment.
“A true social worker, Pete has spent his entire career helping others, in many cases literally saving lives,” said Sue Devlin M.A., L.P.C., the organization's current Associate Executive Director, who will now be filling Scerbo’s role as Executive Director. “We thought it was important for Pete’s legacy to create a way for our consumers to have more access to resources beyond the care we provide through grants, and we want to honor Pete’s exceptional career as we move on to the next 50 years of CBH’s service to the 200 plus consumers we see daily.”
Scerbo was first hired in 1970 when CBH was known as South Bergen Mental Health Center and operated out of a storefront in Lyndhurst. He was made Executive Director in 1973, and oversaw the growth of CBH into an organization with a $22.5 million annual operating budget that provides Outpatient Departments, Adult Partial Care, 24 Hour Emergency Services, Adult and Adolescent Residential Programs and many other needed mental health services to vulnerable residents.
The CBH network spans nearly all of Northern New Jersey, operating an adolescent residential treatment facility in Kearny and several adult residential facilities in Bergen, Hudson and Morris Counties.
“I am so flattered that my friends and coworkers came out on such a cold night to honor my long career with CBH, and was blown away by the endowment of this scholarship in my name, which was a very pleasant surprise,” said Scerbo. “CBH’s growth to a multi-county agency that services people of all ages has been my life’s work. I am so grateful to Sue Devlin, the Board of Trustees, and all of our staff of almost 500 dedicated employees who work hard to provide the best services to people in our communities.”
In 2017, CBH provided services and counseling to approximately 4,000 adults and children in need from 67 Bergen County municipalities and dozens of surrounding communities. CBH works with the County Housing Center to find temporary and permanent housing for individuals in need, and coordinates with the Bergen County Jail to help prevent recidivism once inmates are released.
In addition to the Peter Scerbo Scholarship, CBH employees unveiled a commemorative video celebrating Pete’s career, with testimonials from dozens of coworkers, friends, family members, and consumers who Pete empowered to help themselves. Additionally, Pete was presented with commendations from the Municipal Governments of Hackensack, Westwood and Lyndhurst, where CBH operates full-time offices, as well as from the County of Bergen and the State of New Jersey. Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse was in attendance to present Scerbo with a resolution honoring his great service with the organization, as was Westwood Mayor John Birkner and Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso.
Devlin, along with Board of Trustees President Phil Bogle, presented Pete with a surprise gift of 49,000 frequent flyer miles, along with a Hawaiian lei.
"Pete's always talked about going to Hawaii so I hope he takes the hint now," said Devlin.
“I am so proud of the work CBH has accomplished during my time here and excited for the next chapter of my life,” said Scerbo.
To donate to the Peter Scerbo Scholarship, a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization, call the CBH Development Office at 201-935-3322, Ext. 57.