Just Drop On In!

Are you looking for a judgment-free environment where you can unwind, meet other people, and be yourself? If so, Bell’s Drop-In Center is the place to be! Originally started as a mental health program for users of CHIPP*, Drop-In now serves people from all around the Bell family, including people with no other affiliation with Bell. As the name suggests, mental health service users can drop into the center as they please and immerse themselves in the tight-knit support system there. People engage in a variety of activities together every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, in-house and out. They go bowling every month, and besides that, they often play bingo, watch movies, and go on trips in the Drop-In van.

When we visited Drop-In and talked with folks there, the word we heard from just about everyone was “family.” Above all, the people at Drop-In see themselves as not just a community, not just a friend group, but a found family. “We do everything but live together,” one client says. “We love, we argue, we talk, we eat, we play games, we sit around the same table, we share all our memories, we share money, we share gifts, we are one big family.”

Pool is a favorite activity at the Drop-In!

“When you’re here, it feels like you’re home,” corroborates another. “When you’re not doing good and you’re having a crisis, all the clients and all the caseworkers will come right to you and help you through your situation.”

Indeed, the environment at Drop-In is nothing if not welcoming. As soon as you step through the door, the clients and employees will do everything they can to make you feel welcome. Maybe they’ll invite you to play a round of pool, if you’re so inclined. Some of them even bring family members who are similarly greeted with open arms. The folks at Drop-In welcome anyone through their doors because in their eyes, Drop-In is a safe space free of stigma, judgment, and prejudice. As one person explained, “We see each other every single day, 365 days a year, because out there, they don’t accept us. When you come in here, you feel welcome.”

Mark Hilton, Activities Coordinator at the Drop-In.

The support system provided by Drop-In is integral to the well-being of not only its clients, but its employees as well. Mark Hilton, Activities Coordinator at Drop-In, has a storied history with Bell as an employee and as a service user. He’s been with Drop-In for ten years, and he views the role of Drop-In as essential in the lives of everyone within it. “I don’t think people expect me to cure them of what they go through, but I think people come here looking for something to do in peace, like a calm in the storm.” At Drop-In, Mark aims to maintain a casual environment where people can hang out and support each other. “I owe a lot of my current happiness and success to Bell,” he says. “I’ve been through a lot of what these folks have been through in my past, so maybe I can be some sort of help to them.”

Drop-In’s mission statement, as taped to a door near the entrance, reads, “The purpose and mission of the Drop-In is to provide a safe and comfortable place for people to spend their time.” At Drop-In, this mission is a group effort between the clients, the caseworkers, and everyone else there. When you drop by Drop-In, you truly do become part of the family.


For more information, feel free to call Karen Roland at 717-848-5767, ext. 1401.

*Community Hospital Integration Project Program, a mental health services program with supported and assisted living options for people living with mental illness.