Clients included on Beacon Light Board

If you want to know how you’re doing as a provider, ask the people you serve.

Nearly three years ago, Beacon Light Behavioral Health Systems took that approach to help evaluate its adult services. The result was the consumer advisory board.

According to Gary Culbertson, director of adult recovery services with Beacon Light and the board’s first chairman, the board covers “all the adult services that we provide.”

Now the board is looking for people to become involved as it grows.

“We are looking for people to get involved,” Culbertson said. “People who are passionate about recovery and have ideas on helping Beacon Light improve.”

The board’s officers are Beacon Light consumers and participants are also consumers. The board was even formed with input from those who utilize Beacon Light services.

“Very early on we asked, ‘What are we going to be?'” Culbertson said. “We came up with a mission statement. That really became the cornerstone of what we have grown into.”

That mission statement reads, “United as one voice we represent consumers and Beacon Light in the passionate pursuit of advocacy and recovery.”

Since formation, according to Culbertson, the board has grown to advise department heads on possible program improvements, helped the organization write reports and grants and has played a key part in efforts to put a new recovery center in place, which is slated to open at the former Quality Market site in North Warren this year.

“We’re also advocates,” Culbertson said. “We make ourselves available to those with mental health issues.”

According to Culbertson, the board’s input into the recovery center is only one of the group’s major accomplishments. He said the group contributed to writing the grant for funds to implement a computer system allowing consumers at the peer recovery center allowing people to give a health report prior to professional evaluation.

“I really believe it was their (the board’s) grant writing that resulted in us being selected for funding,” he said.

Culbertson said a number of board participants have later found employment through Beacon Light, including himself.

“There are several people who, as a result of being on the board, are now employed at Beacon Light,” Culbertson said, noting he made a transition to employment through the organization after six months as board chairman. “It was a great stepping stone.”

The board meets on the last Friday of each month from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Beacon Light’s outpatient clinic on Hospital Drive in North Warren. Meetings will move to the new recovery center once it is completed.

Consumers interested in serving on the consumer advisory board can call Beacon Light at 723-1832 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and ask for Amber Sharp.