Hamilton Center, Inc. provides individuals a second chance through “New Citizen Program”

“I am living a life I never wanted”, said a recent graduate of Hamilton Center’s New Citizen Program. “I’m living a life I never knew I could have,” said Mike Hambright. 

On July 2, 2021, Hamilton Center graduated another “new citizen” from a program first established in 2013 to give individuals who have been incarcerated, the tools needed get a second chance at life.  For the first seven years of the program, the organization focused on building the program internally. Participants completed a one-year probationary period where they trained in four different areas of the Corporation to gain skills and experience to secure a permanent job/career at Hamilton Center.  In addition to job skills, participants gained life skills as they worked through challenges of reintegration into their communities with a team of mentors that met with them weekly.

Recently, the program has expanded to other corporations who expressed interest in participating.  Wabash Valley Asphalt, now called Milestone Contractors South, was one of those companies that stepped up to bring the New Citizen Program to their business. For the past year, a new citizen has learned a skilled trade at Wabash Valley Asphalt.  On Friday July 2, a graduation ceremony was held.  The graduated New Citizen, Mike Hambright, was filled with pride and gratitude, not just for the opportunity to have a second chance, but also for the opportunity to grow, better himself and give back.

“For the last year I have been working with the committee from the Hamilton Center to be a better version of myself. They gave me an opportunity by working with a union company to give me a shot at a career. Since being with Milestone, I have been learning and growing in a skilled trade. Here I have a pension, and benefits. If not for the Hamilton Center’s New Citizens program I don’t know what I would be doing right now,” Hambright stated.

“I’ve decided to pursue the Union Career and continue to grow and better myself. Through this program, it’s given Hamilton Center, Milestone and myself an opportunity to give back to the community. I am proud of this accomplishment and look forward to guiding the next candidate and being a leader,” he said.

Since Wabash Valley Asphalt joined the program, Hamilton Center has also been proud to welcome other corporations to the partnership.  Hamilton Center is grateful for the interest to those companies and others who play a significant role in helping reduce recidivism, including other employers who are willing to hire workers notwithstanding a criminal history.

“At some point in life, every one of us needs a second chance to recover from a mistake; and usually, we get that chance.” said Melvin L. Burks, Hamilton Center’s CEO.  “These individuals have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance,” he said. “Not only will they benefit, but it will strengthen families and our entire community.”

Hamilton Center welcomes additional host sites and participants for the New Citizen Program. To learn more, visit www.hamiltoncenter.org/programs/new-citizen/, or call 812-231-8323.

Hamilton Center, Inc. commits to $15 per hour minimum wage for all employees

Melvin L. Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc., has announced that, effective Aug. 23, 2021, no employee in the corporation will earn less than $15 per hour.

In a memo sent to all Hamilton Center staff on Aug. 13, Burks stated, “It has taken discipline, persistence and sacrifice to reach this goal…. I am grateful to the Board of Directors and my leadership team who stayed focused and steadfast to make this happen.  In addition, I want to thank all of you (staff) for not only your hard work, but also your patience as we worked though this project.” 

This action was a culmination of work over the last few years to increase salaries in order to recruit and retain qualified individuals who can provide excellent service to consumers in Hamilton Center’s regional footprint. 

“These increases will significantly improve the quality of life for many of our employees, as well as our consumers who are counting on us to serve them with a top notch, qualified and stable workforce. I am so proud of the investment we are able to make in our workforce,” Burks stated. 

This initiative, combined with other salary increases, will affect over 300 Hamilton Center positions.

Hamilton Center is a regional behavioral health system in central and west central Indiana employing over 600 staff including physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists, case managers and others.  For employment opportunities, go to www.hamiltoncenter.org and click on careers. 

Hamilton Center Hosts Diversity Walk-On-Wheels, August 21

Modified Parade from Fairbanks Park to Vigo County Veterans Memorial Park

On Saturday, August 21, the 2021 Diversity Walk-On-Wheels will take place, allowing individuals to show their support for diversity, inclusion and equity while practicing social distancing in a vehicle caravan through Terre Haute.

Vehicles can begin lining up at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 21, at Fairbanks Park, 100-1099 Dresser Drive. Vehicles will enter via the south entrance of the Park at First and Farrington streets and then line up on Dresser Drive to depart out of the north entrance of the Park at First and Oak streets beginning at 9 a.m. The motorcade will travel through Downtown Terre Haute to Vigo County Veterans Memorial Park, 3300 Wabash Ave., for a brief presentation.

Melvin L. Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center and Chair of the Diversity Committee, said, “The Committee is proud to create an event that will allow people of varying ages, races, creeds, colors, orientations, backgrounds and abilities to come together while also maintaining physical social distancing.”

The Diversity Walk was created to bring a diverse group of people together to break down barriers, build relationships and show what is possible when a community is welcoming to all.

“It is unfortunate that we could not hold the traditional Walk this year, but the entire committee is excited to witness our community’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion during these uncertain times.” Burks said. “Our primary goal is to keep everyone safe; this reimagined format will allow us to do that while also celebrating together.”

The Diversity Walk on Wheels is a free event, but registration is required for participation. Registration is available online at www.diversitywalk.org. To ensure the health and safety of all participants, individuals who plan to ride together during the event are encouraged to share the same living unit address. In addition, guests are asked to stay in their vehicles during the event. If attendees must exit their vehicles, they will be encouraged to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing of at least six feet from vehicles and people from different households.

Each car that registers to participate will receive an orange Diversity flag to display, and each individual in the car will receive a Diversity Walk button. Individuals who have participated in previous Diversity Walks-on-Wheels are encouraged to wear their orange shirts and bring their orange flags from last year’s event. Those without a shirt will be able to reserve a shirt during the registration process. Sizes are limited and not guaranteed. Participants are also encouraged to decorate their vehicles for the event, and an award will be given to the best in show.

For those who are unable to participate in the Diversity Walk on Wheels, photos and videos will be shared online at facebook.com/diversitywalk. Those with Diversity Walk shirts from previous events are encouraged to participate virtually, from wherever they are, by wearing those shirts on Saturday, Aug. 21, and posting photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #DiversityWalkonWheels..

WHAT:             7th Annual Diversity Walk/2nd Ever Diversity Walk on Wheels

WHEN:             Saturday, August 21, 2021

8:00 a.m. – Vehicle Line-Up Begins

9:00 a.m. – Diversity Walk on Wheels begins

WHERE:                       Event will begin at Fairbanks Park and end with closing remarks at Vigo County Veterans Memorial Park, 3300 Wabash Ave.

REGISTER:                   Registration is FREE online at http://diversitywalkonwheels.eventbrite.com/

For more information about the Diversity Walk on Wheels, visit diversitywalk.org or facebook.com/diversitywalk or call 812-231-8338.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

For information on Hamilton Center Services call (800) 742-0787.

Hamilton Center, Inc. recognizes Mark McAnally, RN as Employee of the Year.

Hamilton Center, Inc. honored Mark McAnally at the Employee Kickoff earlier this month. Mr. McAnally serves as the Infection Control and Employee Health Nurse for Hamilton Center as well as the chair of the COVID-19 committee.  His passion and dedication have shown through his tireless efforts in ensuring the health and safety of Hamilton Center consumers and staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Mr. McAnally has been an invaluable asset in navigating the coronavirus pandemic,” said Melvin L Burks, CEO. “His leadership as the chair of Hamilton Center’s COVID-19 committee allowed us to successfully remain open, safely serving consumers throughout our communities.”

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

For information on Hamilton Center Services, call (800) 742-0787.

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Hamilton Center holds Annual Employee Kick-off

July 16, 2021, Terre Haute, IN- Hamilton Center, Inc. hosted its annual Employee Kick-off on Friday July 16 from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Tilson Auditorium on the campus of Indiana State University. The event, in its 9th year, celebrated Hamilton Center staff and the start of a new fiscal year, all while showing support to local businesses.

Hamilton Center, Inc. staff were out in force to take over downtown Terre Haute and eight area restaurants by wearing bright orange shirts. Downtown looked like a “sea of orange”, said an observer.

After a hearty breakfast at local downtown restaurants, Hamilton Center staff converged on Tilson Auditorium in a “sea of orange”.  Mr. Melvin L. Burks, Hamilton Center’s CEO was the MC for the event; prizes were handed out to well-deserved staff.  

“The Kick-off is meant to show appreciation to our staff and the board of directors, by acknowledging all their hard work in serving our consumers” said Melvin L. Burks.  “This year, more than any other, our staff put their heart and soul into serving consumers. This event is a way for us to both acknowledge all of their efforts and to begin to focus on recovery from this public health crisis.” he added.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, Ind.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses. For more information about Hamilton Center, visit www.hamiltoncenter.org or call 812-231-8323.

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Hamilton Center Recognizes Juneteenth

Continues to advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Hamilton Center has declared June 19 an official paid holiday in recognition of Juneteenth. Juneteenth was declared as a national holiday by President Joe Biden and Congress, on June 17, 2021, in recognition of the end of slavery in the United States.

“President Biden took a historic step to begin healing wounds associated with the abolishment of slavery by establishing June 19th as a National Holiday,” said Melvin L Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc. “Hamilton Center is pleased to see unified support in recognizing and celebrating this landmark event in our country’s history.”

The impact of the Juneteenth holiday is deeply personal to many individuals in our country, and its impact can be felt within the Hamilton Center family as well.

“As long as I can remember, my parents educated me on the unfair treatment of black people in this country,” Shannon Jackson, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Both of my parents grew up in Alabama during a time of the Civil Rights movement and told me stories about them not being able to use the same public facilities as white people just because of their skin color.”

 “I first recognized the harsh treatment of persons of color as a sophomore in high school after watching ‘Roots’ in a history class,” said Natasha Newcomb, Executive Director of Addiction/Substance Abuse Services. “Seeing that movie brought my attention to the reality enslaved persons of color faced and the harsh mistreatment of a whole population of people.”

Hamilton Center values differences and the unique contributions those differences make to the organization and the quality of life in our communities. “We could not be more proud to continue Hamilton Center’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by recognizing the value of all humans,” said Burks. “Juneteenth will continue to be a celebration that represents the undying spirit and faith of people; a celebration of the tenacity and perseverance of those who systematically continue to experience oppression and be denied opportunities.”

“We respect and support all employees and want to maximize each individual’s unique contribution to the organization which leads to discovering new and innovative business solutions to improve service delivery and quality of life of those served.”

Hamilton Center’s Diversity Statement

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, Ind.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues, as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

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Hamilton Center, Inc. Serving Community Veterans and Families

Hamilton Center, Inc. Awarded SBHP Behavioral Health Center Designation

Hamilton Center’s Military Veteran Program (MVP) is a behavioral health and addiction treatment program aimed to provide supportive services in an evidence based treatment pathway to those who meet specific criteria for admission based on their military or veteran status.

Hamilton Center employs a Military Veteran Coordinator that assists active military, veterans, and family members throughout the treatment process. Darrin Chaney is a 21-year Veteran of the U.S. Army, 6 years active duty, and the remaining in active guard. Mr. Chaney provides assistance, support, and resources for military veterans and their families impacted by deployment, reintegration, mental health, or substance abuse issues.

Currently, Hamilton Center has trained over 300 staff members in Military Cultural Competency.  This training provides an overview of military culture to include basics about its history, organizational structure, core values, branches of the service, mission, and operations, as well as the differences between the active and reserve components.

In addition to Military Cultural Competency, 141 therapists at Hamilton Center have participated in various trainings including military culture, the impact on children and families, appropriate screenings and assessments and evidenced based treatment. 

In 2021, Star Behavioral Health Providers began offering community mental health centers an opportunity to apply for an SBHP Behavioral Health Center Designation. This designation is designed to establish a network of military-friendly behavioral health organizations. The designation assists service members, veterans, and family members who are seeking behavioral health care in identifying an organization as having a commitment to provide services to military-connected individuals, policies and procedures that show an understanding of military culture, and an assurance that clinicians have training in military culture and evidence based practices.  Each Star designation reviews policy, procedure, staff training, community outreach, and data outcomes.  The requirements build upon each other from one star to four stars.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is proud to have been awarded the Star Behavioral Health Providers One Star Designation. Hamilton Center is the first center to achieve this designation and looks forward to striving towards the Two Star Designation.

Hamilton Center recognizes the need for treatment of our military connected community members and is prepared to continuously professionally develop our clinical teams to serve those that have served our country.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

For information on Hamilton Center Services call (800) 742-0787.

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Hamilton Center Sets Date for We Live Back-to-School Event

Bicycle Drive Set-up for School-aged Children

On Saturday, July 31, from 11:00 am – 1:30 pm children and families are invited to Rose Park, 1515 Locust St. in Terre Haute for the annual FREE “We Live!” back-to-school bash, presented by Hamilton Center, Inc., and sponsored by First Farmers Bank & Trust. Following the event at 1:30 PM, Melvin L Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc. will host the Outstanding Community Member Award Ceremony.

Registration is requested, and those who register will be entered into a drawing to win prizes on the day of the event. To register, visit www.weliveterrehaute.com.

The free event will feature lots of fun activities for children, including games, giveaways, bounce houses, and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, as well as live music and free food. Several community partners will also be on hand to provide information on resources that are available in our community, such as healthcare navigation services, and information on after-school programming and vaccinations.

“This year we feel that this event is more important than ever before,” said Melvin L Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc. “After a challenging year, we want to give these kids and their families a good first step towards recovery from their struggles.”

How to Get Involved

This year there are many opportunities for individuals, groups, and community partners to get involved. Hamilton Center will host a bicycle drive now until the event. Donated new and “like new” bikes will be collected and given away at the event. Other opportunities include support for food, hair styling services, and activities. To donate or get involved in other ways,  contact Tatu Brown, Event Coordinator at tbrown@hamiltoncenter.org.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, Ind.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses. For more information about Hamilton Center, visit www.hamiltoncenter.org or call 812-231-8323.

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Trauma Myths

Contributor: Sara Chambers, Program Manager

As the world begins to reopen, after 15 months of lockdown, mental health has become a high priority. What individuals were once able to sweep under the rug, repress, and compartmentalize has become insurmountable. The pandemic not only added to existing trauma, but has even been a root cause.

While we have come a long way in identifying trauma, we are continuously learning how it impacts individuals and their support systems. What we do know is anyone can experience trauma at any point in their lives.

One of the biggest trauma myths is that only military members can be exposed to trauma.  Research has shown that while a higher percentage of military members do qualify for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), 7-8% of civilians are also diagnosed with PTSD at any point in their lifetime. Women are also twice as likely to experience PTSD as men.

The origin of trauma is all too often misunderstood. Many believe that trauma and PTSD only impact individuals that have had near death experiences.  The truth is, trauma includes any incident that involves actual or threatened death or injury.  If a situation feels life threatening or a person feels an extreme loss of control followed by fear for their ability to survive normally, whether that feeling is accurate or not, trauma can occur. We all perceive stressful events differently. In addition to how often the trauma occurs, life experience, age, physical ability and living conditions may also contribute to making an incident traumatic. No matter who you are, the human brain reacts to threats in a physiological way over which we often have no control. When we perceive trauma, our brains engage to try to protect us without wasting a moment to decide if the threat is legitimately life threatening or not.

It is also the same in regards to how PTSD is diagnosed. Not everyone that experiences trauma has PTSD. A person may experience anxiety, grief, or even acute stress disorder, but seek recovery or have resiliency factors that they utilize before PTSD develops. Other factors that may impact a person’s reaction to trauma can include the severity of trauma, level of stress associated with the incident, genetics, how often the trauma was experienced, and how long it lasted, the individuals personal trauma history and if they experienced childhood trauma, and the individual’s support system at the time of the incident.

Finally, the myth that trauma reactions will last forever and are incurable is false. The human brain strives for equilibrium; our bodies are designed to heal over time. New treatments for trauma are being developed every day. Society is beginning to understand what trauma means, and we are learning how to support each other during distress. Behavioral health professionals are continuing to pioneer new treatments and getting people back on track and enjoying life again.

To best serve individuals who are struggling with PTSD, we as a society must challenge these myths, as they exist in ourselves and in others. A first step can be in starting a conversation about mental health and seeking knowledge on how we can help each other.

If you have experienced trauma and are having a difficult time shaking that trauma out of your mind and life, you are not alone.  Supportive groups, informational books, and helping professionals that care are available. It is possible to heal.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

For information on Hamilton Center Services call (800) 742-0787.

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Moving Forward

Contributor: Dwight Weaver, Program Manager – Child & Adolescent Services

This time last year, it was hard to believe that this pandemic would cause such a disruption to our lives. That impact won’t be fully understood for years to come, but it is clear that our lives are forever changed.

As the pandemic seems to be coming to an end, it is imperative that we begin addressing the underlying mental health crisis that is still affecting children and families today. The compounded stresses and year of instability has led to an increase in the number of youth experiencing mental health issues. 

As schools closed and transitioned to virtual learning, parents who typically went to work each day were now working from home while simultaneously teaching their children.  This isolation from peers and social supports caused immense stress for our youth.

Now, as children and teens return to activities and communities reopen, our youth are beginning to regain some things lost to the pandemic. Even so, there is an acute need for mental health services to help our young people manage this transition. Moving forward we must adapt to their unique needs. Youth, who may still be learning how to appropriately express their thoughts and feelings, may have setbacks caused by the lack of social engagement. High school students have struggled with loss of traditions and milestones. All of these unique struggles can lead to negative feelings of loneliness, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

So how can we help our youth during this time?

Start with a conversation about resiliency. Resiliency factors can help us cope with changes, challenges, and complications that may arise in our life. The more resiliency we have, the better we are able to handle and overcome challenges in life. If we can support our youth with activities that build resiliency, then we can start the process of helping our youth overcome the difficulties of this past year.

Next, start moving forward. Normal may never be what it was before, but we can regain some of what was lost.  Focusing on what we can control and encouraging our youth to re-engage in activities and reconnect with their communities, families, and friends promotes a healthy lifestyle and builds resiliency too. Both are effective in helping to overcome mental health challenges.

Finally, focus on mental health. Spend quality time with family and friends.  The value of such small and simple activities cannot be overstated when it comes to your mental health. Build friendships, learn new skills, and socialize with peers in a positive learning environment. The solutions to the mental health challenges our young people face are within our reach.

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana with corporate offices located in Terre Haute, IN.  Services are provided to children, youth and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people who may be struggling with stress, life changes, or relationship issues as well as more serious problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and serious mental illnesses.

For information on Hamilton Center Services call (800) 742-0787.