Drop-In Center Helps With Mental Illness

WHEELING – The new director of the Marian House-National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Drop-In Center in Wheeling has spent her career devoted to social work and helping the needy.

Sister RoseAnne Wolke has been residing at Mount St. Joseph Mother House in Wheeling since May. She previously resided in the Midwest for most of her career.

“I enjoy it very much, it is different than any other thing that I have ever done in my lifetime, but I really enjoy it,” she said, referring to her new role as the director of the drop-in center.

Wolke said the Marian House, located on 18th Street in East Wheeling, is for consumers of mental health services who want a place to socialize and participate in various activities, including arts and crafts, group discussions and life skills classes. She said the facility is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and they provide a hot lunch.

Wolke said people often participate in preparing the meals and are expected to help clean up following lunch. She said anyone attending the drop-in center is asked to help keep the house clean as part of the program.

Wolke said as the director of the drop-in center, she would like to continue building the program by offering more activities such as nutritional classes and possibly music classes with guest entertainers.

She said they have volunteers who help with activities at the center and there is one local volunteer who will be teaching a life skills classes to the consumers, that will deal with practical subjects like: budgeting time and money.

Wolke obtained a master’s in social work from the University of St. Louis, and went on to do social and administrative work for the next 24 years. She served as the director for an emergency service program at a homeless shelter for the Diocese of Witchita, in Witchita, Kan., and worked for a transitional housing program for the Diocese of Denver in Denver, Colo.

In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, Wolke worked at a longterm homeless shelter in New Orleans for more than a year. Following her work in New Orleans, Wolke went back to her “home” in Witchita to volunteer for an emergency assistance program four days a week.

Wolke said it was during this time she made a trip to Wheeling to participate in a retreat with the sisters of Mount St. Joseph. She said during the retreat she found out about the director position for the drop-in center. It was not long after, she applied for the position and was hired.

The drop-in center is a cooperative venture between Wheeling NAMI and the Catholic Neighborhood Center, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in August. Recognizing the local need for an informal social and educational center for mental health consumers, NAMI-Wheeling opened the drop-in center in February 2004. An average of 10-12 participants and volunteers attend each day in the home-like atmosphere of a refurbished house next door to the Catholic Neighborhood Center, which provides at no cost the ingredients for the drop-in center lunches.

Wolke said there is always a need for additional volunteers at the center and anyone interested can call her at 304-232-1189.