Generous act Gov. Codey promises $100K to Community Mental Health Center
by Al Sullivan Reporter senior staff writer
Jul 13, 2005 | 1192 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although it was no surprise that Acting Gov. Richard Codey visited to install officers of the Bayonne Community Mental Health Center on June 9, his promise to donate $100,000 was a surprise - coming months before anyone expected to kick off the center's capital fundraising project.

The center offers three programs to the community: an alcohol and drug addiction program for 120 adults, partial care for 26 adults, and an outpatient program for more than 1,500 children and adults.

"We were delighted he was here. We know how important his presence is," said President and CEO Joseph Kadian. "In mental health, he is a true hero."

Early in his political career, Codey went undercover into a state mental hospital to find out about abuses, resulting in significant reforms. Mental health has become one of the significant issues of his brief tour of duty as acting governor.

"On his first day as acting governor, he announced his plans for the first statewide mental health task force in 30 years," Kadian said. "When the governor's wife put herself in the spotlight by admitting she had suffered from depression, she reduced the stigma for other people."

Codey said his wife continues to struggle with depression and that while she is not proud of her mental illness, nor is she ashamed, and shares her experience in order to help others realize how common a problem this is. "One in five families in this state has someone that suffers from mental illness," he said.

"After serving almost 35 years as a volunteer, this past January I finally heard someone in our state government truly support mental health," said Agnes Mangelli, who is starting her 12th year as the center's chairwoman. "It is usually such a taboo subject that no one mentions it. Well, Governor Codey changed that and has supported our efforts."

Fundraising began early

Kadian said the center had not yet planned to kick off a fund raising effort, but once Codey announced his donation, former Mayor Leonard Kiczek donated $5,000, followed by state Sen. and Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria with $5,000. Freeholder Barry Dugan donated $1,000.

Kadian said the board had discussed its options about the center, and whether or not to relocate.

"But we decided that we're in the right place in the center of town," he said.

The center is located at 601 Broadway between 27th and 28th streets.

"What we want to do now is begin to build up on this building, by adding one or two additional stories," he said. "We don't have a time frame yet. We didn't expect to start off."

The timeline for the project will likely be announced in October or November.

"But we're getting excited about the project," he said.

Codey had come to Bayonne's Community Mental Health Center to participate in the officer installation.

A full range of services

The center has a professional staff about 24. This includes child and adult psychiatrics, a nurse practitioner, social workers, and counselors. It has an annual operating budget of $1.3 million that from local and state revenues as well as private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

The center provides a range of services that include treatment for depression and family crisis intervention.

The Bayonne Community Mental Health Center was launched in 1972 in order to meet the need to provide local resources for the treatment of mental health problems. The Center's primary mission is to address the mental health care needs of individuals, families, and institutions in the City of Bayonne and surrounding communities.

The Center is fully accredited by JCAHO, holds three state licenses, and renders over 17,000 mental health and substance abuse visits per year to Bayonne adults, adolescents, and children.

"The BCMHC is almost 35 years old, so we must be doing something right," Mangelli said. "However, every year we reach that doomsday rush to keep our doors open. Our client population grows, but our funding stays the same."

Along with Mangelli as chairwoman, Gov. Codey swore in Lisa Cerbone, vice chairwoman; Brian Dellabella, secretary; and Linda Erwin, treasurer. Codey also officiated over the swearing in of the center's new trustees: Dr. Thomas Simpson, Phil Connelly, Frank Carine Jr., Edward Beales, and the Rev. Paul Schetlick, of St. Andrew's Parish in Bayonne.

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