The Colusa County Chamber of Commerce joined with Colusa County Behavioral Health and Safe Haven Drop-In Center for its 13th annual Stamp Out Stigma kick-off event on May 12.
The opening event was an open house at the Center which included a symbolic chamber of commerce ribbon cutting and dedication of the Dereck Parks Memorial Bench.
The bench, although temporary until one can be commissioned from the city was placed in front of the center in memory of the late Dereck Parks, the Mental Health Services Act coordinator and Safe Haven Drop-In Center supervisor who passed away suddenly in March.
Loretta Werre, president of the Safe Haven Leadership Committee welcomed the guests commenting on what an important part of the community the center and its participants have become. “It is important to us to give back to the community,” she said.
Former Behavioral Health publicist Kathy Craigo was the speaker for the open house and dedication. She shared that while more than seven years ago when she signed on to be publicist she thought it would be a matter of writing a few press releases and taking some photos but that it turned into far more.
“What I didn’t anticipate was the relationship I would form with the consumers,” she said. She said that they have built a sense of trust and that they each have a place in her heart.
She also commented that she would wager no one in the crowd attending had never had a bad day or never been depressed by something. “Some folks work through it while others need a little more help and encouragement,” she said.
“Safe Haven and its participants are a family. They are there to support one another,” she said.
Prior to the ribbon cutting, she spoke about Parks and what he meant not only to her, but to those he came into contact with and to those that he cared so deeply for at Safe Haven.
“Above all else, Dereck cared for his people and wanted to make sure they were doing OK,” she said. “It is appropriate that this bench be placed here where people can rest and can be comfortable waiting or the transit or other rides,” she said.
With that Chamber members including president Donna Phelan and executive director Gary Teragawa joined Behavioral Health consumers, and staff and other guests in dedicating the bench. City Councilwoman Marilyn
Acree and former Mental Health board member Mary Winters also attended.