The conference at the center in Conway is hosted by the Client Advocacy Council, made up of 13 clients and an advocate for mental health in the three counties (Horry, Georgetown, Williamsburg) served by the Waccamaw Center. Wright, director of ancillary services for the center, serves as the council’s staff facilitator. Registration is required and is still open. Wright anticipates about 50 participants.
The conference is open to family members and friends of persons who have mental illness and are in recovery. The workshops begin at 10 a.m. on “Managing Your Weight Effectively” and “Budgeting Personal Finances” as well as a personal recovery story. Luncheon follows the workshops and will feature a motivational speaker.
The Waccamaw Center is one of 17 in the S.C. Department of Mental Health and has clinics in Georgetown and Kingstree as well as in Conway. The Waccamaw Center receives funding from Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, but not Horry County though Horry County is where most of the center’s mental health emergencies occur. Financial support from counties was one of the subjects addressed by department director John H. Magill in a wide-ranging discussion last week with The Sun News editorial board. “We need more assistance from the counties,” Magill said.
Ethel B. Bellamy, executive director of the Waccamaw Center, noted that the center she directs is the largest in South Carolina because of the vast geographic size of Horry County. Funds from Horry County Schools also stopped four years ago, although the center continues school programs.
Bellamy pointed out that the center’s upcoming conference is client-driven – “suggested, requested and hosted” by the Client Advocacy Council. “They want to know more about gaining independence and how family members can help.” The conference is “part of the recovery process – support for growth and recovery.” Bellamy says recovery conferences have been held in a couple of Upstate centers such as the one covering Spartanburg and Greenville.
Bellamy was the center’s assistant director prior to being named executive director six months ago. She has three decades of experience in the Department of Mental Health, working in direct client care and a number of supervisory positions. Bellamy is from Pawleys Island and lives in Georgetown. She enjoys her daily commute (usually via U.S. 701) to Conway.
Of mental health care, she says: “It is my passion … It is my passion.”