STEPS celebrates 25th anniversary

STEPS Drop-In Center Director Maggie Travis, second from left, performs with the STEPS Singers as part of the 25th anniversary celebration for the center Thursday.

The STEPS Drop-In Center has reached its silver anniversary — 25 years in operation.

Jayne Peterson from the Guidance Center in Bradford provided opening remarks at the celebration Thursday.

She talked about the history of the center, including its creation and previous location at 68 Chestnut Street.

She also discussed the community effort involved in obtaining a grant that helped the center get established. Since then, she noted that the by-laws created and the original mission have been well-followed.

“We are sticking to our roots, our mission is for people to have a social and recreational club they can take part in, and we have done a good job presenting that,” Peterson said.

The center has been at its current location on Chambers Street since 2001, where it has continued to grow. The move provided a bigger kitchen, a nearby ATA stop that has allowed the center to serve more people and the creation of the Community Support Program (CSP), which involves a board that meets regularly and brings in a speaker every Friday to discuss available resources in McKean County.

Peterson noted that she has been told that the center’s CSP program is “one of the best in the western region, as it is one of the most organized and best attended.”

The center’s mission is to provide “a safe, accepting atmosphere wherein consumers of Mental Health Services can enjoy social and recreational activities,” according to the program for the anniversary celebration.

“This is a marvelous place. If people suffer with mental health issues, they should come here,” said Center Director Maggie Travis. She explained that the center offers various leagues for entertainment, as well as a choir, weekly officer meetings, monthly board meetings and a group meeting once a month. There is a Casino Night and an auction in December that are also among the list of upcoming events.

“It is a pleasure to work with these folks,” she added.

Center President Terry Short confirmed the various leagues available, mentioning the pool league, dart league and WII bowling league as some of those currently in action.

Thursday’s celebration included remarks from center members Jackie Mickle, Casey Langianese and Sandy Schooley. Mickle noted that during her time at the center, she had fellow members that “kept her going when she didn’t want to keep going herself.”

For Langianese, the center provides a constant reminder that she is not alone, and she feels she has an “honorary extended family” in the other members of the center.

Schooley spent 12 years in various organizational positions with the center and currently works as a Certified Peer Specialist at The Guidance Center. Schooley shared the story of her involvement with the center, her gradual growth in confidence and improved mental health — progress she largely credits to her involvement with the center, and shared her excitement that some endeavors started during her time with the center, like the newsletter, are still going strong.

The STEPS Singers performed “The Monster Mash” as part of the celebration, which also included drawings for door prizes and cake and refreshments.

The center’s longest-attending member, Caroline Dunmire, was also presented a bracelet with a “25” charm in recognition of her long-time participation with the center.