Story of Trillium - Part 2

February 2008

We’d been open 5 months and we had some issues that needed to be addressed as soon as possible.

A handful of us were in the kitchen playing spades and chatting. The neighbors were doing their thing next door and you could, as always, hear every word. When they were there it was always lots of yelling and carrying on. We had two adjoining doors to the office condo and you could hear everything next door. We sometimes closed the kitchen and conference room doors in order to block it out on Saturday mornings. But this particular night we were in the kitchen tolerating it and having a good time playing spades. So Ann, seemingly out of the blue, said "wouldn’t it be great if we could just open these doors and expand our space to next door, too?"

She mentions it again. And decides to find out who owns the property next door. She put three of us in motion and we all came back with the information on the same day. We had the name of the owner and Ann was ready to make a call. Just to inquire. And she did. And the owner of the property said he would love to rent to us and the office condo would be available in April! Can you believe it?

May 2008

The next cool thing is around that same time we heard about a little bit more funding available for "bricks and mortar" for established mental health consumer-operated programs.

We were going to get busy writing yet another grant.

And at the same time one of the other issues that we were having was transportation. A lot of mental health consumers don’t or can’t drive, and this county doesn’t have the best bus service around. Even though we were sure to be on the bus line when we initially opened, it still wasn’t enough.

So ok in this grant we were going to ask for money to expand next door and to purchase a van and pay a driver, gas and maintenance. Our noses to the grindstone once again and rushing to get this thing written. Crunching numbers to make sure we get it right. It’s stressful for sure but we have a vision. We have programs to run and services needed for our most vulnerable citizens in the county.

Well you know we’ve expanded and gotten the van a long time ago, so you know our hard work, thankfully, paid off on that grant, too. And you know we included a pool table in that grant and oh yeah a ping pong table, too.

So the next issue on our plate to address I guess was the confusion in our name. We named our center Prince William Drop-In Center from the beginning and even had the legal right to the name but no one bothered to mention that there was ALREADY a place called Prince William Drop-In Center in the county. And we didn’t really think about how people would confuse us with a government program with the words "Prince William" in our name.

We’re a private non-profit and people were thinking we were run by the county. And some people were hearing about us and ending up at the homeless shelter when they were trying to visit us. It was confusing and a little concerning so we started thinking. And if you know Ann, you know what I mean when I tell you she got her thinking cap on and came up with Trillium.

It was perfect. Trillium is a three petal flower found in the wild, symbolizing the three women who founded PWDIC. And it clearly illustrates the healing power of their friendship which has blossomed in the midst of challenging personal experiences over the last several years. A call to the lawyer, he filed the dba (doing business as), and it was official, we are now (and have been for awhile) Trillium Drop-In Center, Inc.

As you know, Trillium’s roots are firmly in the Manassas support group Ann started many years ago. And the natural move was to have support groups here, of course. So Ann was leading a support group on every other Friday. It didn’t take long for people to ask for a weekly support group, so we did. And Kevin stepped up and led the group sometimes on Fridays and we needed a group in the daytime, too, and Barbara was the natural candidate. But we quickly needed some training and Ann put herself to task once again, this time to locate Wendy Resnick, the founder of DRADA (Depression and Related Disorders Association), which was unfortunately no longer in existence. It took Ann a little time but she hunted Wendy down and gosh what a blessing that she was able to. Wendy came down from Maryland on a Saturday morning and in her gentle way taught our staff about how to lead a support group. Teaching us techniques to use and things to look out for when running a group.

And then there was crisis training. We’re working with mental health consumers here at Trillium, and I don’t need to tell you that crises come up. Sometimes more often than others but when they do we knew we had to be ready. And have some understanding of how to handle them. So of course we get Mary Azoy of CrisisLink signed up to come help us out and give us much needed training.

July 2008

So now we’re all set. We’re larger than when we opened and providing transportation and feeding hungry people and trained for leading groups and managing crises and seeing an average of over 30 people a day. We’re busy. And tired.

Ok so maybe we aren?t all set at this point. My goodness we all got tired running around every day and we desperately needed more staff. It’s been a busy 2+ years. We put the word out, found and hired the perfect people, and NOW we’re all set. All set doing what we set out to do. What our hearts led us to do. Hopefully, we’re having some success helping people with mental illness in Prince William County. And there’s still a lot more to do.

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