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Butler care facility to be named after Grapevine Center executive director

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Emily Harger | Tribune-Review
Bette Peoples, executive director of the Grapevine Center in Butler poses for a portrait in the quiet room of the center on July 7, 2014. Butler County is naming the Transitional Care Center in Butler for mental disability after Bette Peoples as an admiration for her work in consumer-run mental disability organization. 'It made me feel like I had contributed and I had done something. Coming from a part of my life where I didn't feel like an asset to the community, it was really a dream come true,' Peoples said.
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Emily Harger | Tribune-Review
Bette Peoples, executive director of the Grapevine Center in Butler poses for a portrait in the quiet room of the center on July 7, 2014. Butler County is naming the Transitional Care Center in Butler for mental disability after Bette Peoples as an admiration for her work in consumer-run mental disability organization. 'It made me feel like I had contributed and I had done something. Coming from a part of my life where I didn't feel like an asset to the community, it was really a dream come true,' Peoples said.

Bette Peoples knows the mental health care system well. Before working at the Grapevine Center, a nonprofit center in Butler providing support to people with mental illness, Peoples was a mental health patient and spent time in a state hospital being treated for post-partum depression.

“I sometimes say my life didn't begin until 40,” Peoples said, adding that her experiences needing help with mental illness led her to a career of serving others in need.

The Butler resident has been a linchpin of the county mental health community since she started as director, now called executive director, of the Grapevine Center, in 1995. The center provides support services geared to recovery.

Peoples, 62, who holds a master of arts in special education from Clarion University, also has become an advocate for mental health issues and a valued member of the mental health community, county officials said.

“We feel that Bette epitomized the recovery movement,” said Amy Peters, Butler County mental health program director. “She had some struggles in her life and was able to work through them and enter into a sustainable recovery.”

In recognition of her contributions, the county is renaming its residential, transitional-care facility, a separate center in Butler, after her. The Bette Peoples Transitional Care facility allows patients to stay in the community near friends and family while they get treatment, rather than go to state facilities away from home.

“She has unique experience, looking at things from both sides of the fence. And she's a power player politically,” Peters said of Peoples' advocacy work in Harrisburg.

Aside from having her children, Peoples said, she did not feel she had any great accomplishments before her recovery. Now, her life has improved dramatically, she said.

Her daughter, Cassie Swasey, said she has enjoyed watching her mother find professional and personal success in recent years.

“To me, she is a remarkable woman,” Swasey said. “As time goes on, I'm more and more amazed by how important she is in her community.”

Peoples said she was shocked when she found out the facility would be renamed in her honor.

“It means so much to me because I've been through it, and I know there's hope for people to recover,” she said.

“I was totally surprised. I had never even dreamed of this.”

She was told about the renaming before the public announcement but kept the information to herself.

“I was so afraid they would change their minds,” Peoples said.

Bill McCarrier, Butler County Board of Commissioners chairman, said Peoples' experience and compassion have made her so successful.

“She's just such a wonderful person. Such a caring person,” he said. “Everyone associated with the Grapevine Center just raves about her.”

Corinne Kennedy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7823 or [email protected].

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