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Barb Mettler

Barb Mettler is the Executive Director of the Hub. Photographed on Thursday.

I read with interest the Monday guest opinion from Margie MacDonald and Robyn Driscoll, “Speak up now for Hub, Crisis Center”. I live in Stillwater County but have had several encounters with the Hub and am often in the area downtown near the Hub.

Due to the sudden death of a friend’s teenage son, I became part of a several year project to honor this young man. He went to school at Billings Central and did a paper for school on the homeless, which led him to help the Hub as a volunteer. After his death, there was an effort to do a couple events to donate to those who used the Hub. I went to the Hub to help organize the event where I observed people coming and going. I have a nursing background so I was interested in that part and saw medical needs front and center.

I saw mental health as a primary part of the Hub’s daily work. I was so impressed with the staff who faced volatility, desperation and inability with efforts to move issues quickly through the system. The acceptance of those who do not reflect the “best” or “look or behavior” society expects was so remarkable. Their caring, as I observed, just never stopped. People came in to just to be acknowledged with a hello by name or a pat on the back.

I observed Hub staff call to get someone into the system for pharmacy needs, obvious medical needs for injuries and care at hospitals. The use of drugs or alcohol was acknowledged but the person’s need was still focused on despite their flaws. One of the things that I learned and was shocked by was the inability to get a medication filled after the person left the hospital after a psychiatric crisis. They were given meds while there that gave them some control over their lives. When they left they were forced to wait days for the social system to get there medications filled. That meant they could again fall back into the crisis they just left because they had no money to fill the prescription until the state paid.

It is a loophole that I help with through a donation so they can be given some meds through the Hub.

When downtown, I see many homeless in wheelchairs, on crutches or in obvious psychiatric crisis. Years ago I worked at St. Vincent Hospital when there was no Hub to help people transition in a strange town. We saw numerous people in need at a hospital where they could not help. I watched volatile situations escalate because of the futility these people felt of not being heard and a lack of a place to send them. To move the Hub is not a viable solution. There is a very definite need for the Hub.

The Rescue Mission is a wonderful program and the Community Crisis Center's My Backyard program will meet very different needs. Some of the homeless the Hub touches are those new to the system, or not willing to alter their destructive personal behavior or are fearful to use help that is right there. The Hub prepares those people to find understanding, learn acceptance is there and maybe try the system they fear to trust.

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Carol Henckel lives in Park City.

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Opinion Editor

Opinion editor for The Billings Gazette.