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Centerstone Awarded $25,000 Heritage Fund Grant

New funding will help individuals with mental health disorders in Bartholomew County gain work experience and learn vital employment skills

Columbus, Ind. – Centerstone’s Employment Services has received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County’s Heritage Fund to reduce employment barriers for Bartholomew County job seekers who have mental health issues such as chronic depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. The grant will allow Centerstone to grow its employment readiness program by offering work experience internships and employment skills classes to local residents in need.

Centerstone’s employment readiness program advances Heritage Fund’s economic growth and downtown development initiative that is focused on advancing economic growth in Bartholomew County by providing employers with a high quality workforce. In Indiana alone, those with mental health disorders represent the state’s largest minority group, accounting for 20 percent of all Hoosiers. In addition, people who have mental illnesses hold the highest unemployment rate of any group in America.

“The symptoms of mental illness often prevent individuals from keeping a steady job, leading them to apply for disability funding,” said Centerstone Director of Employment Services Kathy Christoff, who will oversee the grant’s implementation. “This is unfortunate because research has shown that people with mental health disorders have above average safety records, job performance and work attendance. An essential component of mental health recovery is employment. Helping people achieve meaningful employment also reduces their vulnerability to poverty and dependence on social service systems.”

As part of the grant, Centerstone will provide eligible individuals with employment skills training and/or set-up a work experience internship for them at local businesses. During the four-week work experience program, participants will receive a stipend of $20 per day to cover the cost of transportation, meals, appropriate work attire and other necessary work-related expenses. The stipend helps instill confidence and ensure participants are as prepared as any employee to serve their employers in the most effective way.

Additionally, Centerstone employment consultants will meet with each participant to assess his or her work skill abilities, determine the best job skills classes or work experiences for each individual’s needs, match job seekers with the appropriate business internship work site, and work collaboratively with both employers and job seekers, providing job coaching, as needed. Job skills training will be offered in food service, transportation services and clerical positions, to name a few. Centerstone’s specialists also will work closely with participants to build a strong resume, professionally market themselves and practice interviewing skills.

In order to be eligible, participants must be Bartholomew County residents, at least 16 years old or older, and be experiencing mental health issues. For more information about Centerstone and its services please call 800-344-8802 or visit www.centerstone.org.

About Centerstone

Centerstone, a not-for-profit organization, has provided a wide range of mental health, substance use disorder, and integrated health services to Indiana residents for more than 50 years. Through more than 60 facilities in 17 Indiana counties, Centerstone serves more than 24,000 children, adolescents, adults and seniors each year. It is accredited by CARF International. For more information about Centerstone, please call 800-344-8802 or visit www.centerstone.org.