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PRS Mt. Vernon Opens New Facility

Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services officially opened its doors in Sacramento Shopping Center last Thursday. But, as noted during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, "This building is a physical structure. What goes on inside is the heart and sole of PRS."

Those words were uttered by Donna Beavers, chair, Board of Directors, PRS, Inc., as she joined a host of public officials, supporters, and PRS staff and clients, in initiating the new 12,000- square foot facility on Richmond Highway. "Every square foot here was designed to make our clients' recovery more comfortable," she said.

As the opening speaker, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman, Gerald E. Connolly (D), said, "We have to protect our people. That is the measure of a society. If we can help someone live an independent life, why wouldn't we?"

Rose Lambert, chief aide to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland, welcomed PRS to "the Richmond corridor" on behalf of Hyland. She also expressed amazement "at the range of services offered by PRS."

As stated in the event program, "At PRS Mount Vernon, clients learn the practical skills of daily living that promote independence, employment, and community reintegration. This skills training is made available to clients through the Day Program, Employment Services, Dual Diagnosis Services, and the Evening/Weekend Recreation Program."

Two of those addressing the crowd, assembled in the cafeteria area of the building, gave personal testimony to the success of PRS. Clients Chris Ensrud and Virgil Jenkins, both praised the organization for "helping to regain a productive life," as Jenkins phrased it.

Jenkins was a former employee of PRS. He now is with Enterprise rentals. Ensrud told of her rise from a PRS receptionist to working on the newsletter and acquiring computer skills.

PRIOR TO THEIR new space at 8794-S Sacramento Drive, PRS Mount Vernon was located on Russell Road. "We started on this project [a new location] several years ago when we realized our space was too small and not adequate to properly serve our clients," said Wendy Gradison, president and executive officer, PRS, Inc.

"We serve more than 80 clients a day who are recovering from serious mental illnesses," Gradison said. "We train them in all phases of daily living so they can choose, get, and keep jobs."

Serving more than 200 different clients every month, the Mount Vernon office works with "more clients than its sister centers in Falls Church and Reston."

Thomas Schuplin, director, PRS Mount Vernon, verified, "The demand for our services has definitely increased. We now have between 15 and 20 individuals on the waiting list constantly."

Although its new facility just opened, PRS, Inc. has been in the Mount Vernon area since the mid-1970, according to Schuplin. PRS employs 80 people in its three centers, Schuplin pointed out. Ten of those work at the new Mount Vernon location.

"We have a wide range of clients who live in many different environments. Some live in residential housing under HUD's Section 8 program. We also provide residential support to those who request it," Schuplin said.

"This new facility is the cornerstone of our services to those with mental health problems," said James A. Thur, executive director, Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board. "We are very pleased we can marry up our services with PRS. It's been three decades of partnering."

Kenneth P. Disselkoen, regional manager, Region One, Fairfax County Human Services, said, "They've been in the community for a long time doing wonderful work. They help people to become vital members of society." The Route 1 location actually opened December 23, 2003.

PRS, Inc., was known as the Social Center when it began providing services to southern Fairfax County more than three decades ago. It first opened a satellite program in Calvary Presbyterian Church. That expanded into various church sites in Springfield and Alexandria. It moved to the Russell Road location in 1982 and was known as PRS Engleside.

As Connolly pointed out, "The County really depends on these non-profit organizations to provide these types of vital services. Those serving the more vulnerable of our society deserve the very best."

PRS MOUNT VERNON also houses the Laurie Mitchell Employment Center. It is a consumer run drop-in center "that empowers clients to continue their job search."

As part of the program, PRS presented a "Wish List" to those who might choose to become involved with their services. Some of the possibilities included: Tutors to instruct employment services clients; Accountant services to help clients in tax preparation; and volunteers for Compeer championship matches.

Anyone interested in learning about more opportunities for involvement should contact Elisa Kosarin, vice president, Resource Development, at 703-531-6303, or write info@prsinc.org.