After fighting its way through a year of tough budget cuts, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center took time Tuesday night to celebrate its accomplishments.
About 160 people attended the annual Pioneer Celebration at Bert Nash, staged in the center's large meeting room.
One of this year's Pioneer Awards went to Douglas County Sheriff Rick Trapp, who worked with Bert Nash officials to establish better mental health counseling for inmates at the county jail.
Bert Nash now has staff at the jail four days a week, and counselors are on call 24 hours a day.
Also receiving a Pioneer Award was Franklin C. Shontz, professor emeritus of psychology at Kansas University. Shontz also worked in rehabilitation psychology. He donated the Shontz family house to Bert Nash for use by some of the center's clients. Shontz had made the donation in the name of his late wife, Nancy.
Trapp said he was accepting his award on behalf of his department, especially the jail staff. He said closings of state hospitals had put an added burden on law enforcement because of increased contact with the mentally ill.
"Unfortunately, we have too many people with mental health problems in the jail," Trapp said. "We have to deal with it."
Shirley Martin-Smith was presented with this year's Lyn Smith Award for Distinguished Service. A former member of Bert Nash's governing board and one-time Lawrence mayor, Martin-Smith was recognized for her numerous activities in behalf of the center.
Heather Jones received the Sandra Shaw Spirit Award for her dedication as a Bert Nash employee.
Guest speaker E. Kent Hayes called for support and financing for Bert Nash's YESS! program. Hayes, now retired, started and headed the program in its early years. The program provides jobs and tutoring for troubled youths who often appeared in juvenile court. The program has been successful, Hayes said.
"The net result was they stopped committing crimes," Hayes said.
The program is threatened by federal budget cuts, said Ruby Davis, program director.