After the LightHouse of Citrus County closed last year, the people with mental illnesses who depended on a place where they could meet and socialize were left with nowhere to go.

Now they have a place.

In July, LifeStream Behavioral Center, Citrus County’s mental health and substance abuse service provider, opened the Citrus County Drop-in Center, a weekday program for people with diagnosed mental illnesses.

Many of the people who come to the center are from the LightHouse, so there was a familiarity from the start, said LifeStream Drop-in Center manager Tracey Cousineau. “But we’re getting about three to four new people a week,” she said.

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Brianna Lamont hand feeds an alpaca during a day trip that she and more than a dozen others from LifeStream Citrus County took last week.

WHAT: A voluntary social program for people with a diagnosed mental illness where they can meet and hang out with people who understand the challenges they each face.

“This is a voluntary program,” Cousineau said. “You have to want to be here — you can’t drop someone off who doesn’t want to be here.”

WHO: The drop-in center is open to anyone with a diagnosed mental illness. Upon signing up, the person is given a short assessment to make sure the program is right for them and they are appropriate for it.

“Our staffing is 12 to 1, so someone who needs one-to-one attention wouldn’t be a good fit for us,” Cousineau said.

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Josh Williams, one of 15 adults who participate in a day trip through LifeStream, pets one of the 16 alpacas found at Alpaca magic in Homosassa.

ACTIVITIES: Lots of arts and crafts, movies, games, exercise, also life skills and nutrition lessons and outings in the community.

“We go to the library and we’ve visited a local alpaca farm, and we’ll be doing some volunteering at Daystar,” Cousineau said.

Activities are member-driven, based on their interests. Recently it was suggested that they come and take a tour of the Chronicle.

PURPOSE: “We are mostly social-oriented, so what we do is reduce isolation, get people out of the house, and here they are encouraged to develop peer-to-peer relationships,” Cousineau said. “We’re a low-level, easy-going program, but while they’re here, if we see that someone needs further resources we try and link them with resources they might not already have.”

She added that LifeStream has a well-established psych-social rehabilitation program in Leesburg that they hope to duplicate in Citrus County in the future.

“Right now, the drop-in center fills in the gap left by the LightHouse closing,” she said.

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Brianna Lamont, left, Josh Williams and Staci Imperato listen to Alpaca Magic owner Jean Riley as she weaves alpaca fiber on her spinning wheel. The fiber can be utilized to make a myriad of clothing items.

LOCATION: 1554 N Meadowcrest Blvd, Crystal River, next to the West Citrus Government Center.

Bus transportation is available, depending on where a person lives. It’s generally available in the Crystal River/Beverly Hills/Lecanto/Inverness areas.

DAYS/HOURS: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. As it’s a drop-in program, people are free to come and go.

COST: No cost to those who come; medical insurance is not required.

INFO: Email Judith Saucedo, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Counselor, at jsaucedo@lsbc.net or call LifeStream at 352-270-9009.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

(1) comment

CH

She is spinning alpaca fiber into yarn, not weaving. Nice article.

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