LOWVILLE Northern Regional Center for Independent Living is opening a peer-based recovery center designed to help Lewis County residents with mental illness and reintegrate them into the community.
The purpose really is to reconnect people back to the passions they had before they were diagnosed, said Karen M. Boliver, who heads the agencys Lowville office at 7632 N. State St.
The new recovery center, named Community Connections, is being funded through a $250,000-per-year grant from the state Office of Mental Health.
Lewis County is one of 10 counties in the state to receive funding for such a recovery program, Mrs. Boliver said.To me, its a real gift, she said.
The program will focus on building connections between people with mental illnesses and the community through social events and informal gatherings, a NRCIL release said.
Through outreach to community groups and businesses, we hope to bring people together and eliminate the stigma surrounding those with mental illness, it said.
Mental illnesses such as depression can easily isolate people, so the new program will be designed to reverse that situation, Mrs. Boliver said.
It really fits the independent living philosophy, she said.
Community Connections also may help participants find volunteer, continuing education and job opportunities, Mrs. Boliver said.
It think the major part of that is giving them hope, she said. You need people to believe in you.
The program may work independently or in conjunction with other mental health treatments, Mrs. Boliver said. Potential participants may be referred from other local agencies, but walk-ins also are welcome.
The new center will have two full-time employees outreach coordinator Theresa M. Decker and transition facilitator Benjamin J. Fowler and several part-time peer advocates.
Ms. Decker has begun contacting community groups, churches and businesses to help educate them about the program and promote positive attitudes toward mental health services.
So far, Ive gotten good, positive response, she said.
While based at the office here, Ms. Decker will be doing outreach throughout the county, using a NRCIL satellite office at 3979 Cherry St. in Lyons Falls and one in Harrisville that is slated to be open by July.
Our goal is to take the services into the community so people dont have to go to a place, Mrs. Boliver said.
Mr. Fowler will be working primarily with youths who have mental health issues, through local school districts, to encourage participation in school and community activities and form new interest groups at the schools. He also is looking to help prepare students for post-secondary education and the work force.
Mr. Fowler, who will be working out of the Harrisville office, said the ultimate goal for participants of any age would be to get them to the point where they no longer need the program.
If they go beyond us, that would be the best, he said.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program or having Ms. Decker or Mr. Fowler meet with a club or organization can call the Lowville NRCIL office at 376-8696. They also may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for Ms. Decker and email@example.com for Mr. Fowler.