Mental health agency turns to fund-raising

December 14, 1997

Mental health agency turns to fund-raising


Staff Writer

It has been around for almost two decades. Still, many local people don't know it exists.

Until the last few months, those running Turning Point of Washington County have been content to go about the business of helping mentally ill clients without attention from the general public, said executive director Roger Larson.

However, a change in funding and program eligibility has forced the nonprofit agency to start getting the word out about the range of psychiatric rehabilitative services it provides, he said.


The Hagerstown-based agency, which serves about 120 Washington County residents, was the beneficiary of an open house at Wingrove Manor bed and breakfast in Hagerstown on Sunday.

The $5 admission also bought a chance for a free "honeymoon weekend" at the bed and breakfast Jan. 23-25, including a $50 discount at Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., or a night at the Washington County Playhouse, and a gift basket, Larson said.

Turning Point's services include helping clients find satisfactory places to live and assisting them with needed support services, helping them with educational needs, helping them find and keep jobs and providing opportunities and guidance for socializing and recreation, he said.

"Our whole function, our whole purpose with a rehabilitation program is to help people who want to be successful be successful," Larson said.

Since the changes took effect July 1, Turning Point is getting significantly less funding from the state and, for the first time, has had to start fund-raising, he said.

"We have had a very low profile in the past," said Larson, who said that was done deliberately for clients who felt uncomfortable about being identified as mentally ill. "Unfortunately, we're in a position where this is the sort of thing we have to do to help us be successful."

A quilt raffle is in the works, with supporters cross-stitching squares for the sunflower-pattern quilt with Hagerstown's logo in the middle, he said.

Future fund-raising plans include a dinner featuring a nationally known guest speaker, either in the fall or spring 1999, he said.

The thrust toward fund-raising isn't the only change that came out of the new rules, Larson said.

In the past, the agency had narrower guidelines for what clients it could serve, he said. And, in order to receive services, they had to come into the office at 25 E. North Ave.

Starting July 1, eligibility was expanded to anyone with a diagnosed psychiatric disability, Larson said.

And clients don't necessarily have to come to the office anymore, since the program caters to whatever specific needs the client has, he said.

For example, outside services could include going to people's homes to help them shop for groceries or simply helping someone learn how to use public transportation, Larson said.

Call 301-733-6063 for more information about Turning Point of Washington County.

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