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The Advocare – October 2015


From the Executive Director

By Clarice Hausch

One of the challenges WVA faces on a daily basis is reaching the people who need our services the most. This is especially true in the work we do with people experiencing mental illness. This is created by a combination of social, spiritual and economic circumstances experienced when you have a mental illness. One of the underlying factors in the perpetuation of symptoms of mental illness is social isolation. It would seem we humans are wired to be in relationship with each other if we want to live healthy lives. Real world daily challenges faced by people with mental illness that create social isolation include stigma, homelessness, fear, poverty, loss of hope and a lack of tangible worldly supports. That’s without even considering the challenges presented by the mental health problems a person may be experiencing as well. When family supports are stressed or non-existent and community supports are unavailable or impossible to access it becomes all too easy to retreat into a life style that makes a difficult, but treatable situation worse. West Virginia Advocates decided in 2015 to reach out to the fledgling Peer Support Network in West Virginia to see how we could develop a mutual relationship that would support peer based efforts statewide to engage people with mental illness in improving their opportunities to live rewarding and productive lives. This newsletter is part of that effort. Peer Support is alive and well in WV, but it does seem to be one of our state’s best kept secrets. We hope to change that picture by sharing all that they have to offer.

The Value of Peer Support Services

By Dave Sanders

Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful.1 As a person in recovery from mental health and addiction I personally have benefited from peer support. I credit peer support for busting the stigma surrounding my fear in regard to getting help, and getting me engaged into treatment many years ago. West Virginia has recognized the value of peer support, and has a long history of establishing peer support programs. One particular environment that peer support is commonly delivered in is a “Drop-In Center” or “Peer Center”. Several years ago I had the opportunity to direct a peer ran drop-in center in downtown Charleston, WV. At times up to 70 individuals a day would come through the doors seeking peer support and other social services.

A Peer Center offers a variety of social supports including peer support, resource linkage, support groups, and providing assistance to individuals in navigating community resources. The goal is to provide a safe environment where individuals can get support, and perhaps also gain some skills. Many centers offer classes on a variety of topics including nutrition, managing finances, and writing a resume as well as computer skills and other topics. These centers are run by and for people who have had experience with behavioral health challenges.

Individuals providing peer support receive training to enhance their peer support skills. There are two terms commonly used in West Virginia to describe a peer supporter. Those terms are Peer Support Specialist and Recovery Coach. Depending on the peer supporters life experience and training, they may provide peer support to individuals with a mental illness, substance use disorder, or both.

Research has shown that Peer Support is not only cost effective 2 but also improves the quality of life of individuals with behavioral health challenges. Research on peer support programs has shown that participation in these services leads to improvement in symptoms, decreased hospital stays, improved self-esteem and other quality of life measures 3.

Peer Centers provide a valuable resource to communities across West Virginia. There are currently a number of Peer Centers operating in West Virginia communities including Huntington, Ripley, Richwood, Wheeling, Morgantown, and Romney.

Dave is a person in recovery and has enjoyed over a twenty year career in the behavioral healthcare field. He is currently working with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Community Outreach for the WV Bureau for Behavioral and Health Facilities.

1. Mead, S. Defining Peer Support, March 2003 Retrieved from:

2. Bergeson, S. (n.d.) Cost effectiveness of using peer providers. Retrieved from:

3. Depression & Bi-Polar Support Alliance, Peer Support Research-A Promising New Approach, Retrieved from:

The Bomar Drop-In Center

The Bomar Drop-In Center

The BoMar Drop-In Center is located in downtown Ripley, WV at 306 N. Church Street. The Center is open Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturdays 10am to 6pm. The facility is also open evenings for self-help groups who rent space for their meetings. The focus of this Center is advocacy for individuals suffering from addictive disorders and cooccurring mental health disorders. The Drop-In Center offers recovery groups, cognitive behavioral therapy groups, social activities and special events for all attendees.

The Drop-In Center employs one full-time individual as a Manager and beginning October 1 this year a certified Peer Support Specialist will be employed three days per week to facilitate specific programming. Additionally, there are several individuals who have completed Recovery Coach Training, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Facilitator Training and attended the WV Leadership Academy. Center staff have completed the Leadership T for T training and will be offering Leadership Academies at their facility in the coming grant year. The center operates with funding from WV DHHR — Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities.

The Bomar Drop-In Center Staff

The BoMar Drop-In Center offers a drug and alcohol-free safe environment for its’ clients. Referrals are made to the facility from the courts, Department of Health and Human Resources, Westbrook Mental Health Services, Jackson County Day Report Center, Probation and Parole Services, and individuals from the community at large.

Our facility is located at The BoMar clubhouse, an older 2-story previous residence with a large yard. Our clients refer to the facility as a “home” and enjoy the casual atmosphere and camaraderie of our peer-support structure. The Drop-In Center extends an invitation to anyone who is interested to visit us at any time.

Our Drop-In Center is participating in the quarterly meetings with the WV Advocates, is hosting a Community Resource Meeting in their area, and representatives are looking forward to participating in the Unite to Face Addiction Rally in Washington, DC in October.

Hampshire County Pathways Drop-In Center

By Annette Fuqua, Coordinator

Hampshire County Pathways Drop-In-Center has moved! We are now located at 850 N. High Street/Hwy 28 which is right next to the Industrial Park and Romney Cycle. We are so excited about our new location and the new opportunities that will be available to us.

The coffee pot is always on at Hampshire County Pathways. People are welcome to come in and sit down and relax with a cup of coffee and a snack. The only requirements for being a member is that you want to be one, and you agree to abide by the Rules of Conduct that are posted in the center. Members meet monthly to discuss things they would like to do and to make programming recommendations for the center.

We are a drop-in center that is committed to support individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues. People who come in for support are the same people that support others and help to run the center. Everyone is encouraged to take control of their own recovery, and the center is a safe, warm and friendly place for them to come. Our members raise money by doing fundraisers. The money is used for art projects and activities to help show that there are other things people can do that do not involve drugs or alcohol. It is part of the retraining that is necessary for a sober life. For example, over the summer we took a trip to Rocky Gap State Park and took a group to the Hampshire County Fair.

We have two great meeting rooms that are available for rent to 12 step programs or other groups that are compatible with our goal of individual health and wellness. At present, AA has meetings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 12:00 pm and Fridays at 8:00 pm. There is a Women’s AA meeting On Monday nights at 6:00. A Narcotics Anonymous group meets here on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm. A Chemical Dependency meets on Thursdays at 1:00 pm and a Depression Support group meets on Fridays at 12:00 pm. We have a new Codependency Support group meeting on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 pm beginning on September 30, 2015.

We have guest speakers and workshops from time to time. Mark Dignan (CACAD) is sponsored by Western Maryland Recovery Services and leads a group discussion on Substance Abuse and Contemporary Issues every other Wednesday at 1:15 pm. The next session is September 9, 2015. Our members let us know about issues that they are interested in, and we try to recruit people to come in and lead groups or teach a class on those subjects. We are currently hosting an 8-week nutrition class called “Cooking with Shannon” that is sponsored by the West Virginia University Extension Service.

We have trained Recovery Coaches that are available to serve as a personal guide and mentor for people seeking or in recovery. People are encouraged to call the Drop-In Center to schedule an appointment.

We serve free meals Monday through Friday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. Many people that attend meetings here have very hectic schedules, and the meals allow them to eat before or after their meetings. We serve approximately 300 meals a month at present and expect to see that number increase now that we are in our new location.

We work very closely with other charitable agencies in the Romney area. We try not to duplicate

NAMI Marian House Drop-In Center

By Patti Young

Bianca and Stephanie at the Marian House

Patti, Mike and Jesse at the Marian House

Greeting from the NAMI Marian House Drop-In Center in Wheeling. We are open Monday through Friday from 10AM–3PM. Our consumers have access to various groups: Depression/Anxiety, art, current events, goals, Life skills, games, and Bible study. Socialization is encouraged. This summer the consumers planted a garden. Several holiday picnics were held. Other activities included going bowling, seeing a movie at the theater, having an art group and picnic at Wheeling Park, attending the Italian and Greek festivals in Wheeling. Some days the group goes for a walk in the neighborhood or watches movies. One of the consumers taught a class about computer safety. In June we had a booth at the Wheeling Arts Festival. Art Masks were made for the public by 2 consumers and 2 staff. Bianca is working with consumers and the community on a mural project “Architect of Change”. In October the consumers will display their “Minions” and other art work at ArtWorks Around Town”. Plans are being made for activities for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The Cope Center

By Pat Doverspike

The Cope Center is located at 27 East Main Street in Richwood, WV. The Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Our center is open on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for NA and AA meetings. Our mission is to build a community free of stigma, where individuals work together toward wellness & recovery of mind, body & spirit. We want to build a culture of recovery and follow the peer to peer model recovery program to inform, educate, facilitate, advocate, and serve. We also want to remove social barriers and create opportunities through self-determination and personal empowerment. At the Cope Center we believe each person should use their own Power – Peer Operated Wellness, Encouragement & Recovery Services.

The Cope Center welcomes everyone that stops by and we value everyone that enters our doors. We invite all to “Come join us just to hang out, socialize and be comfortable. We always have a cup of coffee waiting for you”. Our Director is Pat Doverspike and the Assistant Director is Carolyn Schaad. We have 12 step meetings, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Groups, Peer to Peer Support, and Linkage and Referral. We also utilize the WV Leadership Academy, and we have computers and a library. We are happy to announce that our recent Kid’s Painting Day was a success.

PAIMI Advisory Council

On September 17, 2015 Cathy Reed, PAC Chairperson, presented a plaque of appreciation to retiring PAC member Frank Shuble from Weirton, WV for his years of service to WVA and the PAC.

The advocacy and legal services that WVA provides to adults and children with mental illness are funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as required by federal law under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, 42 U.S.C. 10801 et seq. One of the requirements of that law is that WVA have a PAIMI Advisory Council (PAC) that reports directly to the Board of Directors. The PAC members are people with mental illness or their family members and professionals with knowledge of and an interest in mental illness advocacy including an attorney and a youth representative. Members are from around the state and meet at least quarterly in Charleston. The PAC’s purpose is to advise WVA staff and the Board of Directors on policies and priorities they believe are needed and important to protecting and advocating for the rights of individuals with mental illness in West Virginia and to educate the public about WVA’s purpose, priorities and activities. The PAC has taken the lead in hosting the quarterly networking meetings that WVA and the Peer Recovery Network are jointly participating in. If you are interested in becoming a member of WVA’s PAIMI Advisory Council please contact us for more information:

  • E-mail:
  • Mail: 1207 Quarrier St Ste 400, Charleston, WV 25301
  • Fax: (304) 346–0867

Terry Dilcher Recognized for his Service on WV Advocates’ Board of Directors.

Terry Dilcher receives a plaque from Cathy Reed

Terry Dilcher receives a plaque from Cathy Reed

WVA is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. In September Cathy Reed, Board President, presented retiring Board member Terry Dilcher with a plaque commemorating his years of service to WVA.


The Advocare is published by the West Virginia Advocates. Publication of news items and articles does not imply endorsement by the Editor, the West Virginia Advocates, the Board of Directors or its individual members, or funding sources. Funding for this publication is provided by the: U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration; Social Security Administration.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor and news items should be sent to:

West Virginia Advocates
1207 Quarrier St Ste 400
Charleston, WV 25301