By Dave Marcheskie
Families and faculty members with the Harrisburg School District have a new haven to seek mental health care. Many gathered to open the Karen F. Snider Student and Family Health Center at Camp Curtin.
Children with the Foose School Chorus sang two songs, kicked off an exciting day for the Harrisburg School District. Packed tightly in a room next to the Camp Curtin Gymnasium, many gathered to honor Karen F. Snider, a woman dedicated to public health around the Capital Region.
“Congratulations!” said Lynn Patrone. “This really very, very cool.”
A new center focused on providing mental health services for school district students, families, and faculty. The facility is named after Snider, who spent years as Secretary for the Department of Public Welfare and has long since been instrumental in helping the school district raise funds.
State Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin County) presented a proclamation on behalf of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to honor Snider.
“Upon her richly deserved recognition, affirmatively states that she stands as a role model worth of emulation,” Kim read.
Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney spoke about Snider’s many accomplishments and told the story of how Sunflower perfume was Snider’s preferred scent. Knight-Burney said the flower was a perfect representation of Snider, who stands tall and is a beacon of beauty.
With a bouquet of sunflowers in her hand, Knight-Burney proudly thanks Snider for her work and dedication on the new health center.
“I believe Karen is our sunflower and exemplifies vision.”
Shortly after, all eyes were sent on the long-awaited ribbon cutting in the next room over. The facility boasts about a dozen rooms waiting to help those in need. Non-profits and sponsors helped provide funding and services such as: individual and group therapy, grief counseling, parenting skills, drug and alcohol addiction help, and psychiatric care.
According to the CDC 1-in-5 children and 1-in-4 young adults struggle with a mental health issue or disorder. With a poverty-stricken city, many times the illnesses go undiagnosed. Snider said this is her dream come true and believes the center will make a large impact in the Harrisburg community.
“I believe that it really does take a village to raise a child,” she said. “This center includes many helpers from the village and we are so proud for the commitment this represents.”
Julia Mallory is one of the workers who will help provide the essential services. She said she’s excited to have a comfortable place that helps eliminate the stigma surrounded with those who seek mental health assistance.
“That’s huge,” she said. “It’s huge that they don’t have that barrier of perception to overcome.”
Patrone spoke about her personal story of overcoming mental health issues and said she hopes to inspire other to seek help.
“People with mental illness can and do recover,” she said.