The Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) has hopes of revitalizing the campus and growing community involvement.
Local residents can kick the holiday season into full swing by coming out to the caroling event Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. Held in the pecan grove near the Powell Building, the Christmas event truly engages the community with the campus, current workers and facility residents.
CSH and the Authority are partnering to host a full day of festivities including the 54th Mayor’s Motorcade parade starting at 12:30 p.m., two M-Day performances at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the auditorium, and of course the caroling.
All events revolve around the pecan grove. CSHLRA Executive Director Mike Couch wants people to feel comfortable returning to the campus that should no longer have a dark feel.
“The pecan grove has always been a center of activity even 40 years ago when I was living in Milledgeville, and it is our intention to make it a center of activity for the community once again,” Couch said in a press release.
The caroling will consist of multiple churches including the First United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church.
The event includes holiday-inspired refreshments provided by the Rotary Club and door prizes. All of the Dec. 4 activities are free of charge.
Chair of Communication and Marketing for CSHLRA Bruce Vaughn said the caroling is the first of many events coming to the pecan orchard.
“All this is an effort to draw attention to everything the state hospital has been able to do for Baldwin County. We need the citizens of Baldwin County be familiar with what is going on and be involved. We aren’t keeping any secrets. We want them to know how hard we are working to revitalize that campus and bring new jobs to Baldwin County,” Vaughn said.
Susan Craig, MH/DD Service Director 2 at CSH, began hospital work in 1975 and retired in 2008 only to return shortly after. Craig coordinates the performances with the CSH individuals.
“Ten years ago they asked me to start doing the M-Day shows. That's when we really started to get them involved. They would practice starting in July,” Craig said.
In the past, the music therapy department would put on the show and have beautiful costumes. Even orchestras have performed during M-Day as part of the Mayor's Motorcade started more than 50 years ago.
Most of the individuals formally in the Allen Building are housed throughout the community now. Bringing them back for group performances makes a great impact for all involved.
“I think that is the most rewarding thing. This is truly a joyful season. I'm excited,” Couch said
The two auditorium performances will feature the Craig Center. Dance routines with wheelchairs dressed up for the holidays should entertain.
The Christmas decorations are staff made collected over several years.
Craig said it takes a lot of staff hours to get everything together.
The long time employee expects the auditorium to be full of life. The Cook Building Glee Club and ballet dancers from Georgia College bring extra entertainment to the event.
Two music therapy students will sing solos for guests. Craig said Sinclair Christian Academy second-graders are a welcome addition.
CSH employees and the redevelopment board hope the campus pulls together to keep current facilities like the Craig Center open and bring life back to vacant spaces.
“I'm hoping they will see it's a wonderful place, and it won't close,” Craig said. “That would be awesome.”
Vaughn said the community has truly embraced promotional efforts. Branding the new Central State vision is important.
“I've encountered nothing but enthusiasm from the community. It's overwhelming to see how much support this effort has,” Vaughn said. “I hope they see the beauty of the campus and envision as we do the potential out there. There are no limits to what we can do if the community gets behind this effort.”
Visit www.developcsh.com or Develop CSH on Facebook and Twitter. Call Steffi Beigh at (678) 469-0766 for more information as well.
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