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Letter: Drop-In Center is a resource in the community

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I would like to share my story.

I have lived in Morris for about three and half years now and am mentally disabled according to the criteria set by the state. I am married with two children and feel I live a pretty normal live with the help of the ICRS team, the Stevens County Life Center and my psychiatrist. I think I have a good med regimen that makes me feel less depressed and less anxiety.

Some of the professionals in my life have mentioned and encouraged me to stop by the Drop-In Center at 15 East Second Street here in Morris. It has been open for over six years and has helped a lot of people; but I did not think it was for me until there was a job opening to be a hostess one day a week. I thought with my background as a nursing assistant and daycare provider it sounded like something I might enjoy. The staff there is wonderful!! They give me tips on what to do in certain situations if they arise and what my duties are and what was expected of me. I learned that many of the adult foster care consumers really look forward to coming there on the days the center is open which include: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. The PCA's that bring them to the center for a 25 cent cup of coffee or a 50 cent can of pop say it is a nice place for them and their clients to come, a place to go and visit with people that they have come to be their friends.

After working a couple of my own shifts I stopped in on one of my days off and saw some familiar faces as well as some new ones that I was introduced to. Everyone likes to make new friends so I was there a little longer than I expected after I paid my 50 cents for my can of pop and had a few laughs. I now know of a place I can go when I want to get out of the house and go for a short walk now that it is nice outside.

I have to admit that being mentally disabled and the stigma behind it used to bother me, but not so much anymore. There are people out there that are just normal people you see walking down the street that I now say "Hi" to that I would have never done before. The Drop-In Center is not a place for people who are unable to function in society, but it is a place for anyone who suffered or is suffering from anxiety, depression or loneliness.

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