Artists in LINC Club Studio © 2012 Mary Becker Weiss
This fall artists and poets from Living in the Community Wellness Center (LINC) here in Augusta and the Waterville Social Club (WSC), are scheduled to exhibit their work at the Harlow Gallery. We are very excited to have them back, having fond memories of a very successful show at the gallery back in 2007 “Outside Looking In, Another Look”.
LINC and WSC and others throughout the state are member-run clubhouses serving clients with severe and persistent mental illness. They have been supporting vulnerable Mainers for decades in a very cost effective manner. DHHS recently announced that it will fund only one of those two centers and will require all of them statewide to change their models to include keeping track of members’ health, and to no longer allow members to run the centers. Click here for March 17th report in the Kennebec Journal.
This is unjust, unfair and just plain bad policy. You can help our fellow artists and poets by writing or calling members of the State Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services (a list of names and contact info follows). — Deborah Fahy, Executive Director
Natasha Mayers, who runs the art program at WSC and will be curating the show at the Harlow Gallery this fall, shared her letter to the committee with us:
“Maine Department of Health and Human Resources has announced that it will be cutting 4 out of the 12 social clubs, in the state, for adults with mental illness, which means that the Waterville Social Club (or maybe LINC, in Augusta) will be closed down within a few months. (Augusta and Waterville are in the same region, and after the cuts, only one center will remain open). It is impossible for Waterville members to get to the LINC center in Augusta, nor would they want to make the trip. Most people don’t have cars or the means to travel to Augusta. Some live at the homeless shelter.
I have been teaching art at both centers for 35+ years and know how essential the centers are to the survival of their members. The Waterville Club is like family to those who go there. It is a place to drop in, eat meals, play games, socialize, check emails, attend art class and workshops, exercise self-governing, celebrate birthdays and holidays, learn new skills, read the newspaper, make a phone call, etc. It is a program that keeps hundreds of people alive, gets them out of bed, nurtures and cares about them, helps to keep them from depression, drugs, alcohol, and overeating, and so much more. Many could not live without it. It is also a very inexpensive program to run, so the cost-saving is negligible. It is just wrong and shortsighted, will result in individual suffering, as well as increased costs in other areas as some without these services will end up in emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, or jails.
Are you willing to fight to provide funding to maintain these essential services? Please reverse the DHHS changes.I hope there will be an investigation/hearing and action on the rules soon.
Sincerely, Natasha Mayers Whitefield, Maine”
Senator Eric L. Brakey (R-Androscoggin), Chair – email@example.com,
Representative Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook), Chair – Drew.Gattine@legislature.maine.gov,
Senator Anne M. Haskell (D-Cumberland) – firstname.lastname@example.org,
Senator Earle L. McCormick (R-Kennebec) – email@example.com,
Representative Peter C. Stuckey (D-Portland) – Peter.Stuckey@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Matthew J. Peterson (D-Rumford) – Matthew.Peterson@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Scott M. Hamann (D-South Portland) – Scott.Hamann@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Christine S. Burstein (D-Lincolnville) – Christine.Burstein@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Patricia Hymanson (D-York) – Patricia.Hymanson@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Deborah J. Sanderson (R-Chelsea) – Deborah.Sanderson@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Richard S. Malaby (R-Hancock) – Richard.Malaby@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Frances M. Head (R-Bethel) – Frances.Head@legislature.maine.gov,
Representative Karen Vachon (R-Scarborough) – Karen.Vachon@legislature.maine.gov