Linda Thompson, a mental health program specialist with the Cameron/Elk County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program, is receiving the 2010 Homes Within Reach "Unsung Hero Award" from the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania at a conference in Harrisburg this week. The award is given to people who help prevent homelessness in their area.
Liz Hersh, the Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, said Thompson, who is a Pennsylvania Transition to Home (PATH) Project mental health specialist, will receive the award for her longtime efforts to help people with mental retardation and mental illness find accessible, safe and affordable housing in their communities.
"It's for people who do some of the hardest, but the most important work, I think, in the whole wide world. She's really a great local leader on these issues," Hersh said, adding that Thompson's work reflects the overall goals of the Housing Alliance of ensuring that all commonwealth residents have a decent place to call home.
Hersh said Thompson's work is challenging because some people with mental retardation or more severe mental illness may need access to certain services and housing types, but a lack of options often relegates them inappropriately to a nursing home. Thompson helps coordinate services and locate housing so they have a living space that is suitable for their needs and within their means in their communities.
"Having those resources is critical," Hersh said.
For more information on this story, see the November 10 edition of The Daily Press.