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Mental Health Association to celebrate clients, community May 22


WATERTOWN — The Mental Health Association in Jefferson County will continue to celebrate its rebirth during its 10th annual agency celebration May 22 at Watertown Elks Lodge 496, 728 Bradley St.

Executive Director Korin A. Scheible said the event, to begin at 6 p.m. that day, has transformed alongside the agency as a whole. The annual dinner with a guest speaker on a mental health topic has switched to a celebratory party with hors d’oeuvres, member and community recognition, and highlights for the coming year.

“Instead of focusing on a speaker, we wanted to focus on our members,” she said. “For our members, it’s important to have something for them to strive for, and to recognize challenges they’ve overcome. That’s important in a peer setting.”

Award categories include member of the year, two volunteers of the year, parent of the year, community member of the year and business of the year.

“Without those other agencies and volunteers, it’d be hard for us to do our work,” Ms. Scheible said. “The two businesses we’re recognizing were helpful moving us and getting us to our new place within the agency. We rely on community.”

The Mental Health Association relocated earlier this year to 425 Washington St., from 724 State St. After that shift, the nonprofit revised some staff positions and created a more open space for programs downstairs. Since the relocation, Assistant Director Rebecca M. Hicks said, agency clients have been more engaged in services. She said the agency has more than 100 clients, some of whom visit community agencies to invite more people with mental health diagnoses to the Mental Health Association.

Proceeds from the May 22 fundraiser, which includes a silent auction, raffles and entertainment, will help offset the cost of extra items, events or programs members seek. From specific funding streams, the Mental Health Association already offers a drop-in center for socialization; Bridges for skill building; Agape for helping members navigate court systems; HUD for helping members find permanent housing; respite, which provides a place for clients to go if their relatives or a caretaker need a break; Vet Center for peer-to-peer support for veterans; Food for Thought for providing low-cost meals, and advocates, who support all programs.

Ms. Scheible said while she has some ideas as to how to expand services, the agency first will focus on strengthening its core programs in its new location. Eventually, the Mental Health Association will launch a foundation and develop a campaign to fund a new kitchen.

The agency simultaneously will prepare for upcoming yet unknown changes associated with the state’s redesign of the Medicaid system.

People can support the agency by calling as soon as possible at 788-0970 to reserve a spot for the dinner. Tickets are $25 each or $35 at the door.

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