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February 4, 2014

PUBLIC FORUM: Standing up for a job few could, or would, do

Standing up for a jobfew could, or would, do

In 1975, I joined the Mental Health Association board and had no idea what I was getting into but soon learned a valuable lesson of compassion for those with mental illness.

What will happen if MHA closes the doors? Families were embarrassed that their children had this disease so they asked the State Hospital to care for them. Once dismissed, they were literally dropped off in Logansport to fend for themselves. It was the MHA that helped provide shelter, food and clothing to the individual.

Mary Lou Kesling was the executive director and was both a friend and mother to many clients. Today, over 300 clients rely on the guidance of the MHA Drop In Center at 421-12th. Karen Waldron, the executive director, does a job few would consider doing! She has no benefits and a very modest salary.

The clients are not easy to deal with and patience is a virtue. They have limited disability income and their funds need monitoring. They need their meds monitored daily, and transportation to the bank and doctor’s appointments.

United Way has chosen to stop funding MHA $41,000 per year of its $110,000 budget. Rental income from Four County of $18,000 per year has stopped due to relocation. Try operating with $59,000 cut from your allowance! The drop in center, located behind Hardee’s, was made possible by community and grant money. What will happen to this building? Can MHA continue to operate with 53 percent of its funds gone?

The State Hospital costs approximately $85,000 per year and Four County Group Homes at $35,000. Can taxpayers of Logansport and Cass County assume the cost to care for these individuals? Will this increase crime due to hunger or lack of shelter?

United Way indicated an accountability issue for dropping funding, whatever that means! I know MHA has always been accountable for monies given to them by United Way. Wasn’t the United Way established to help those in our community who are less fortunate, hungry, needing shelter, and down on their luck?

I would ask you to divide the $41,000 by 300 clients or $137 per person. I am asking you to voice your concerns and encourage United Way to reconsider their decision. Come follow Karen Waldron around for one day and you will appreciate what she does and how lucky you are to not have to deal with mental illness personally or in your family.

Tom Scheetz

Logansport

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