Mental illness can create a dark time for those who suffer from it, as well as their family and friends, so the Friends of Loudoun Mental Health has worked hard for more than 60 years to “drive back the darkness afflicting so many of our fellow citizens in Loudoun County,” according to its website. The Friends, as they refer to themselves, have created a vital program for preventing homelessness, as well as meeting multiple needs of residents disabled by and recovering from persistent mental illness.
The all-volunteer, community-based, non-profit organization, which is a recipient of a 2017 grant from 100WomenStrong, helps those affected by mental illness by serving as advocates, educators and service providers. They offer assistance to help them better their lives by providing assistance for living arrangements, advocating on their behalf for improved care and resources and promoting recovery and community awareness.
Since 1993, the group has worked to spread its services to Loudoun County citizens living with chronic mental illnesses who are not being covered by federal, state or local funding. To do so, they formed a public/private partnership with the Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services to get to the core issues of homelessness among residents living with chronic mental illnesses.
A Place to Call Home is one of the Friends’ six core programs and helps prevent homelessness among Loudoun County residents disabled by mental illnesses. Through it, the Friends provides rental subsidies to consumers of Loudoun County Mental Health Services who are prepared to live independently but who cannot afford to do so.
“All of the funding for A Place to Call Home is from donations, and the grant from 100WomenStrong will help many people,” according to Joey Coburn, Friends’ director of development. “This grant not only will help a person from becoming homeless, but also will help his or her dependents. It will help keep families together.”