Felton Institute’s deep commitment to supporting and reflecting the communities we serve is exemplified through our Deaf Community Counseling Services (DCCS), a mental health program that empowers Deaf and hard of hearing clients. Given our continued dedication to elevate diverse voices, we’re excited to announce our partnership with Deaf advocate and influencer, Raven Sutton. Ms. Sutton made history when she became the first Deaf contestant on Netflix’s reality show, ‘The Circle,’ breaking barriers for Deaf communities. On the show, Ms. Sutton uses American Sign Language (ASL), bringing her experiences and perspectives to viewers and followers. “My goal is to normalize Deaf people in the media and music industry,” she explains.
As an influencer, Ms. Sutton uses her platform to uplift Deaf communities and educate the public. “I like to put myself in rooms where most people may not have had much interaction with Deaf people so that they can unlearn their misconceptions of Deaf people.” Ms. Sutton, who has a background in social work explains, “My love and passion have always been to help others.” Ms. Sutton uses her platform to advocate for mental health awareness in Deaf communities. “Mental health is something everyone deals with, but for Deaf people the resources are limited.” This includes barriers to communication and social isolation, among other issues. Ms. Sutton states, “That needs to change. That change starts by having conversations like these.”
Ms. Sutton’s childhood laid the foundation for her work as a Deaf advocate and influencer. “Growing up as a Deaf child was an interesting experience.” Ms. Sutton elucidates, “I went to mainstream school from kindergarten until the 7th grade. I didn’t understand what it meant to be Deaf. I just knew that I was different from the other kids.” Sadly, Ms. Sutton’s father passed away two months before she was born. When she was older, she found out that her father was from a Deaf family and after meeting them, Ms. Sutton was inspired to explore her roots. “I begged my mom to allow me to go to Alabama School for the Deaf because that is where my grandma went to school and my dad. I joined Alabama School for the Deaf in 8th grade and stayed there until my high school graduation.” The transition from the hearing world to the Deaf world proved to be difficult. “I struggled to figure out my identity and where I fit in. In the hearing world, I had a disability and in the Deaf world, I wasn’t Deaf enough.” But, she explains, “I didn’t let that discourage me. It made me become the strong advocate I am today.”
Ms. Sutton’s drive and advocacy work inspires her many followers and beyond. “My advice to a little girl who looks up to me is to never let someone else’s opinions and beliefs shape your life.” Adding, “This journey we call life is yours and you have the power to do whatever you like and to share it with whoever you like. Live for you!”
Instagram Live Event: Raven Sutton in Conversation with Felton’s Deaf Community Counseling Services (DCCS)
Deaf Advocate and Influencer Raven Sutton (@bluejay19xx) participated in an Instagram Live event with Felton Institute’s Deaf Community Counseling Services (DCCS) Lead Case Manager Tori Serrano. The disability activist, dancer, content creator, and contestant from Netflix’s ‘The Circle,’ spoke about her experiences growing up as a Deaf person, her advocacy work, and the importance of mental health awareness in Deaf communities.
Felton Institute responds to the needs of our community by providing innovative, evidence-informed social services to transform lives. Our organization offers 50+ programs that address mental health, the unhoused, early care and education, those impacted by the justice system, transitional age youth, as well as aging adults. Our award-winning programs, which have been recognized as national models, combine the latest scientific research with cultural sensitivity and a deep commitment to supporting and reflecting the communities we serve.
Founded in 1889, Felton is the oldest secular non-profit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. We have expanded our services across most Bay Area counties and continue to be at the forefront of pioneering new approaches to meet the emerging needs of underserved populations.
We know what it looks like to successfully build community.
We foster impactful change by strengthening the community as a premiere service provider. We also strengthen other service providers by supporting them in their fiscal, human resources, communications, IT and overall agency operations. With Felton’s support, they are able to focus on providing the best services to their clients, doing the work they were meant to do.
Felton empowers the community and ensures successful outcomes to all we engage with.
Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.