Peer support crucial

The Board of Directors of On Our Own-Charlottesville gratefully acknowledges the efforts of cofounder Shela Silverman in establishing what was known as the Drop-In Center [May 6 letter: "Drop-in Center no "flophouse"].

The Drop-In Center has evolved under the administration of Will Gallik with the help of staff, including Debbie Smith, to become a model for grassroots mental health, peer-run agencies.

Now known as On Our Own of Charlottesville, the Drop-In Center is only one of five programs sited at our location, and it continues all the functions enumerated by Silverman with the addition of peer-run support groups.

The board has supported Will and Debbie in establishing guidelines for use of the Drop-In Center by consumers to ensure that it is an undeniably safe and supportive place for anyone seeking recovery from mental illness.

On Our Own of Charlottesville is at a particularly exciting juncture in its decision to move ahead in implementing recovery programs for consumers. These recovery programs, quite distinct from those of addiction recovery, are outgrowths of peer-reviewed research that indicates that consumers become connected, productive citizens as a result of participation in consumer-run, consumer-based, consumer-focused programs.

Gallik and Smith have assumed leadership roles in promoting this innovative approach. Governmental cutbacks in traditional mental health agencies make these programs even more critical.

The admirable compassion and limitless energy that both Gallik and Smith invest in On Our Own of Charlottesville are wonderful gifts to the consumers. The Board is privileged to work with both of them.

Beverly Ball, President of Board
Elizabeth Breeden, Secretary of Board
On Our Own of Charlottesville