As appeared in the Westfield News 1-8-2013 by Carl Hartdegen, Staff Writer
The Carson Center has been a source for social services in the city and the nearby communities for decades. Staff and clients of the agency will celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the center with "Fifty Faces of Carson", a series of 50 columns to be published in The Westfield News throughout the year, illustrating the center's programs and successes.
The agency was born shortly after President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Community Mental Health Act in 1963. The legislation, the last signed by Kennedy, enabled the birth of The Westfield Area Child Guidance Clinic which, after almost 50 years, has grown into a diversified social service agency providing help to both children and adults in a wide variety of arenas.
Known after 1973 as the Westfield Area Mental Health Clinic, the name was changed to The Carson Center in 1996 to honor a dynamic director, Peg Carson.
The Center's mission statement states that the agency "helps people achieve greater health and well-being in everyday life" and brings "compassionate expertise to behavioral health, wellness and education services for people of all ages and abilities."
The current CEO, Susan West, said in a recent interview that the weekly columns will, with details disguised to preserve confidentiality, "tell the community more about our work in a very personal way" by relating "success stories" about clients who have received services from the center's varied programs and will also showcase the work of some of the Carson Center staff and volunteers. "We don't want to be the best kept secret in town, anymore" she said.
She said that she and other staffers will visit community organizations, such as the Rotary, Kiwanis and women's clubs, to share information about the center and its many programs. Interested parties may also learn about the Carson Center by participating in any of the monthly "Coffee with Carson" open houses.
She said that the get-togethers will be alternatively scheduled in the morning and afternoon with the first session scheduled for 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the center's Broad Street location and the second at the same location at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Other sessions are planned at other programs of the center such as the Valley Human Services offices in Ware.
The highlight of the year-long celebration will be on Wednesday, Oct. 23 when a fundraising breakfast will be staged at Tekoa Country Club.
West said that the breakfast will feature testimonials, an inspirational video and addresses by herself and Philip J. Cameron III, the president of the Carson Center Board of Directors.
West said that additional information about the center's anniversary celebrations, or about the Carson Center generally, may be obtained by calling Leandra Robichaud, at 572-4108 x 149.