A few years ago, the Chestertown Spy published an account of an altercation between a police officer and a town event volunteer who was wearing the costume of a cartoon character. The results of that encounter made national news for an audience who enjoyed the comic aspects of this unlikely collision. But for insiders, which in this case represented most of the downtown residents, is was another painful example of a friend and neighbor declining into severe mental illness.
This is just one example of the special toll we all feel when members of our community suffer from these deliberating conditions, as well as the stress and anxiety a small town has when one of their own is not well.
It was that kind of experience that motivated some visionaries to create Channel Marker in the late 1970s. As state mental hospitals started to release patients in the 1970s as part of a nationwide deinstitutionalization movement, the burden fell on local communities to find homes, jobs and health care for these new residents.
Led by its first director, Nancy Clem, attorney Jim Griswold, and other local leaders, Channel Marker was created in 1982 to close this gap in services to those with mental illness on the Mid-Shore.
Fast forward to 2016 and Channel Marker now works with close to 300 clients and their families on the Mid-Shore, like the former Chestertown resident mentioned above, who are able to find support, housing, and a new peace of mind through their services and programs.
In her Spy interview, executive director Debbye Jackson talks about the special challenges for Channel Marker, their growing program, and their needs for the future.
This video is approximately six minutes in length