Rick Sampson


The building, as I understand it, is about 120 years old. It was first built as a mission church, then it became a Fairfax County public school. Some people say it was a Catholic church first, some say it was a school. I don't know to be honest with you, but I do know it was a one room school house for a good bit of time. The front doors and the back were added on later. So the original building was one room. It was the only Catholic church in the area for a long time. Then the parishioners in St. Louis decided they needed a bigger facility and began to build the new church.

About five years ago we came over here and asked if we could use the building for our programs. We're a rehabilitation program, working with adults with emotional problems in the community. In the evening the building is used by scouts, brownies, F.H.A.'s, 4-H and a lot of different clubs.

Now we're moving out. We can't get licensed in the state working in a building that is in this kind of condition. The volunteer groups in the church might get together and donate their time and rebuild the building. All the flooring and subflooring is rotting, so it is going to have to be ripped out. The roof and the A frames are rotting. A lot is going to have to be done.

There is an equal chance that it will be bulldozed to get rid of it.

If the community doesn't pick up on the building it will probably be demolished.

Our program is part of the new movement toward mental health in the community mental health system. The community mental health movement is about 10 or 15 years old. It resulted in the building of the new Mount Vernon Community Health Center. What they began to find out was that all the people were shipped out of the hospital, sent back to the community with only the community health center for support. They begin to find out that it wasn't enough and people needed something to do during the day if they can't get a job. Then we began to have programs. It started out pretty much like a social club, which is just a place for people to come and hang out, shoot pool and play cards. They had counseling available to them. It was mostly a place to go so you could live a comfortable life.

The last four or five years, that whole thing has changed to shift the emphasis on rehabilitation. Now we have a rehab counselor who works in vocational training and job placement. We spend a lot more time doing things like group meetings. We talk about goals for change, about how you change, and deal with people's feelings. We offerskills courses like cooking, sewing, homemaking skills, job finding skills, and interpersonal skills. We do actual teaching on how to interact better.

We are in very close conjunction with the community mental health centers and department of social service and private doctors. Generally what happens is a person will be referred here from one of those organizations for the daytime program.

Volume Two, Table of Contents
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