MAC schedules open house Tuesday

Published 7:35 pm Monday, March 8, 2010

The Mississippi Adolescent Center has a new name, new missionand new leadership, and now it’s looking for a new start with thecommunity.

The Brookhaven facility that cares for mentally challenged youthwill host an open house Tuesday for the first time in more thanthree years, inviting the public in to tour the grounds and,hopefully, become part of the local network that supports MAC andits children. The hour-long tour begins at 2 p.m., and is beingcoordinated as part of National Intellectual and DevelopmentalDisabilities Awareness Month in March.

“We want the community to know where we are, who we are and whattype of clients we serve,” said Taheti Watson, MAC’s humanresources and public relations director.

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If anyone has any misconceptions about how MAC works, Tuesday willbe the time to clear them up. The facility has experienced bigchanges since its founding, when it was known as the JuvenileRehabilitation Facility and served young, mentally challengedpatients who had been court ordered for treatment.

The old name and mission generated a negative stigma for thefacility, which was often thought of as a type of prison for youngoffenders.

In 2009, the facility moved away from treating young offenders andbecame a facility for all mentally challenged children, and theexperienced Shirley Miller was named director. MAC currently offersrehabilitation services, intervention services, transition skills,recreational skills and more to help 34 teenage males with mentaldisorders go back to their families and communities.

Though located in Brookhaven, the facility serves families fromacross Mississippi.

“We don’t want to keep them here. Our goal is to help them go backinto their communities,” Watson said.

Watson is hoping a few local servants will attend Tuesday’s openhouse and sign up for MAC’s volunteer program, which is still inits initial phases. She’s looking for artists of any and all typeswho wish to contribute to MAC child’s rehabilitation byvolunteering to teach skills and hobbies, or just volunteer in anyway. Volunteers will have to pass to facility’s screening standardsfor working with youth.

“You’ll feel really good about helping someone with intellectualdisabilities,” Watson said.