Hamilton Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Commemorates half-century of efforts to improve mental health care

In 2021, Hamilton Center, Inc. commemorates its 50th anniversary. Founded in 1971 as the Katherine Hamilton Mental Health Center, the organization has spent the last 50 years advancing excellence in behavioral healthcare services. Today, the organization serves over 12,000 consumers annually, employs over 650 Hoosiers, and hosts a number of beloved community events in west central Indiana.

Hamilton Center, with the help of committed community partners, has advanced behavioral health and addiction treatment. As our understanding of mental health, physical health, and the mind-body connection has advanced in the last 50 years, so has Hamilton Center’s service delivery. Today, the organization offers a full array of services with focus on integrating both behavioral health and primary care services to offer whole person care. The organization’s long-standing philosophy of “least restrictive care” has assisted those with severe mental illnesses and chronic addiction issues to live successfully and independently in their home communities. For many, hope has been restored, quality of life enhanced, and lives have been saved.

Hamilton Center Expands 24-hour Access Services

Hamilton Center’s Access Center and Crisis Line are now staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week, assisting individuals, families and communities who may need support with mental health or substance abuse emergencies.

Mental health-related crisis calls have increased throughout the pandemic and are often related to social isolation, fear of illness, and hindered access to services. Hamilton Center’s 24-hour Access Center offers mental health and substance use crisis assessments and management services from mental health professionals, and services are available to individuals throughout the corporation’s 10-county service area.  In addition, the Access Center can assist those seeking access to preventive screenings including mental health and primary care screenings.

“Everyone has struggled in some way during the pandemic,” said Art Fuller, Executive Director of Access Services. “What we are trying to do is optimize our efforts to meet the specific needs of those in crisis. We are here to provide support 24/7 to any one in need, children and adults alike.”

The Access Center can be reached at (800) 742-0787.

Free Suicide Prevention Training for All

In celebration of 50 years of service to west central Indiana, Hamilton Center has launched a public service campaign focused on suicide prevention.  “Zero suicides.  It is possible.”

The campaign is focused on suicide prevention training and expansion of emergency services.  Hamilton Center is offering free suicide prevention training to organizations, groups, and individuals to assist individuals in identifying and assisting those struggling with a mental health issue or crisis. Suicide is preventable. Save a life, take the training. To learn more, visit hamiltoncenter.org/communitytraining.

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

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

In a memo sent to all Hamilton Center staff, 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.

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Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana headquartered in Terre Haute Services include specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people with drug and alcohol problems. Counseling services are provided for 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.

2020 Hamilton Awards Celebrates Leaders in Community

Highlights Nominees’ Focus on Community

Terre Haute, IN – Hamilton Center, Inc. hosted the annual Hamilton Awards Dinner Tuesday, October 27 at the Sycamore Banquet Center, on the campus of Indiana State University. The event highlighted fiscal year 2020 accomplishments and recognized those nominated for Hamilton Awards. The theme for the event was Community and featured Hamilton Center’s role in the community especially during COVID-19.

“This pandemic has caused Hamilton Center to re-engineer how services could be delivered safely and effectively,” said, Melvin L Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc. “I am proud of our staff for finding creative solutions, sticking to our proactive plan and ensuring consumers are supported.”

“I am also so humbled by the contribution of all of the Hamilton Award nominees.  Lives have been enhanced and our community has benefited greatly from their work,” he added. 

Katherine Hamilton, for whom the Center and awards are named, fought for the inclusion, acceptance and support of those struggling with mental illness in the early 1960’s. She emphasized the importance of community in her life’s work. In this spirit, Hamilton Awards were created to recognize individuals and organizations who have significantly contributed to the cause of mental health and addiction while furthering the mission of Hamilton Center, Inc. Nominees were recognized in the categories of Hamilton Center staff, Community, and Volunteer. Winners are as follows:

Hamilton Award, Staff

Mark Collins Nominated for his 16 years of service, steadfast leadership in uncertain times, and unwavering commitment to the safety of consumers and staff. Mr. Collins began his career as a case manager in 2004 and worked his way up in the corporation to his current position of Chief Clinical Officer, where he exemplifies dedication, integrity and servanthood in ensuring Hamilton Center meets all standards of care.

Hamilton Award, Community Service

Casey Brown & Family, Mask Makers of the Wabash Valley – Nominated for their public service during the COVID-19 pandemic by manufacturing of over 14,000 masks. In the face of adversity during the pandemic, they turned their energy toward doing something positive to help others.  They made much needed masks for first responders, medical personnel and mental health workers – including Hamilton Center employees, consumers and their families. Their efforts demonstrated what it means to be a part of a community. Their spirit and service to others is a beacon of hope in troubling times.

Hamilton Award, Outstanding Volunteer Service

DeAnna Griffin – Nominated for her involvement in the Wabash Valley Recovery Alliance and tireless service to those struggling with addiction, in recovery, and those currently involved in the legal system. Ms. Griffin spends a significant portion of her personal time providing transportation to those in need to attend important appointments such as doctor’s visits, DCS meetings, court dates, and even work. Described by her nominator as “simply the most giving and selfless woman I have had the pleasure of working with”, Ms. Griffin often works 15 hour days to further the message of recovery.

In addition to the Hamilton Awards, two individuals were recognized with Frank W. Jerse awards. This award, named in memory of Frank W. Jerse, is given to a community member who is a veteran or supported military families or who has significantly contributed to the community.  Dr. Jerse served during World War II, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received a purple heart.  In addition, Dr. Jerse dedicated much of his career furthering post-secondary education at Indiana State University.  Lastly, he was a major contributor to the establishment of Hamilton Center.

This year, two individuals received Jerse Awards. The first recipient is Mr. Oscar Session, a 36-year educator who started his career as a teacher and ended it as an elementary school principal. After retiring from a fruitful career in education, he has been involved in various community organizations, including the Spruce Street A.M.E. Church, The Terre Haute Wabash Valley Foundation Board, United Child Care Board, Young Men’s Civic Club, and the local NAACP. A primary focus of his efforts has been in education and working to prepare youth for employment in the Terre Haute.

The second recipient of the Jerse award is Randy Steven, MD, who began working at Hamilton Center in 1972 as a Mental Health Technician and currently works as a physician on the clinical staff. He attended Indiana State University School of Medicine and has had a long career of leadership in the medical field in the area. Besides being active at Union Hospital and Hamilton Center in a medical capacity, he has been the volunteer medical director of St Ann’s Clinic and Hospice of the Wabash Valley.  He has always had a special interest in addiction medicine and has worked with local and State leaders to further the field. Lastly, he is a veteran who served in Vietnam. 

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in Central and West Central Indiana. Services are provided to adolescents and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people with drug and alcohol problems. Counseling services are provided for 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.

The Hamilton Awards Dinner: Focusing on Community

October 27, 2020 Virtual Event

Hamilton Center will host the annual Hamilton Awards Dinner Tuesday, October 27 at the Sycamore Banquet Center, on the campus of Indiana State University. This year, due to social distancing guidelines, the event will be a small private dinner, however the community is invited to watch it live on Hamilton Center’s Facebook page-   facbook.com/HamiltonCenterInc/ starting at 6:30 p.m.

The event will highlight fiscal year 2020 accomplishments and recognize those nominated for a Hamilton Award. The theme for the event is Community and will feature Hamilton Center’s role in the community especially during COVID-19. “Community is defined as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals,” said, Melvin L Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc. “This year, in the face of adversity caused by COVID-19, I think our community truly embodied this definition and came together as one.”

Katherine Hamilton, fought for the inclusion, acceptance and support of those struggling with mental illness in the early 1960’s. She emphasized the importance of community in her life’s work. In this spirit, Hamilton Center awards were created to recognize individuals and organizations who have significantly contributed to the cause of mental health and addiction while furthering the mission of Hamilton Center, Inc. in the community. Nominees will be recognized in the categories of volunteer, community, and Hamilton Center staff.  Winners will be announced that evening.

Volunteer Category: Deanna Griffin, The Avenues Recovery (Vigo).

Community Category: The Ruth House (Sullivan); United Way of the Wabash Valley (Vigo); Team of Mercy (Vigo); CODA of Terre Haute (Vigo); Covered with Love, Inc. (Vigo); Casey Brown & Family, Mask Makers of the Wabash Valley (Vigo); Charles Townsend, The Connection Center (Owen); Dr. Megan Kirk, Vigo County School Corporation (Vigo); Keith Rogers, Vigo County Drug Court (Vigo); Judge Lori Thatcher Quillen, Owen County Judge (Owen); and Sherri Koertge, Save-A-Lot (Vigo).

Staff Category: Stacie Amerman, Program Manager (Parke); Jairon Jones, Care Manager, Vigo County Outpatient Program (Vigo); Cynthia Dowers, Executive Director of Nursing Services (Vigo); Matt Duchene, Intensive Community Treatment Program Manager (Vigo); Mark Collins, Chief Clinical Officer (Vigo); Katherine Kinney, Care Manager, Vigo County Outpatient Program (Vigo), LeeAnn Pruiett, RN, Lange Apartments (Vigo); Margie Grayless, Program Manager, Healthy Families (Vigo); and Nicole LeClercq, Program Assistant, WIN Recovery (Vigo).

Hamilton Center, Inc. is a regional behavioral health system in central and west central Indiana. Services are provided to children, adolescents and adults, with specialized programs for expectant mothers, infants, and people with drug and alcohol problems. Counseling services are provided for 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.