Last Friday, we celebrated the individuals who are moving out of Southwest Virginia Training Center and the opportunities that lie ahead for them in their new home and community.
It was also a time to thank and recognize the many people who worked together to make this happen, including Virginia Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) Deputy Commissioner Connie Cochran, Commissioner Hughes Melton, Community Integration Director Deb Smith, SWVA Training Center Director Dennis Shrewsberry, Mary Bea Eaton and Kate McNulty from Scioto Properties, our Good Neighbor team members, the courageous families and individuals, and many others.
Charlotte Barkley, who cut the ribbon, and her husband Douglas Isaac are parents to an individual who just moved into this particular home from the Training Center. As president of the parents association, Charlotte was instrumental in the effort. This ribbon cutting symbolizes all of the work that has been done to create a home and community life experience for these individuals and the bright future that awaits.
“Today we celebrate a big step in the recognition of humanity. A humanity that is being re-stablished by an understanding that our physical or mental makeup will no longer define where we can, and cannot live, in the community,” said Matt Marek, our Executive Director. “Amazing feats of historical change are also never achieved by just one person, it requires the steadfast resiliency of the collective spirit and effort of many people.”
Commissioner Melton also delivered a speech at the ceremony. His message was one of hope for mental health care in Virginia, with the success of this Training Center to community transition as an example for the path forward.
The shovel to the right of the ribbon was there the day the SWVATC first broke ground in 1976. This progression into the community is a huge testament to the integration efforts of DBHDS and the Training Center staff and leadership. We are honored to partner with them in creating a new way of life.