Anchors made of glass, brass, bamboo, iron and sundry other materials were scattered throughout the Anchor Social Service Center at 1018 Monroe St. NE and even on the front door.
"In the western world, the anchor is a symbol of hope," explained Harry J. Dudley, coordinator of the center. "It's what keeps you firm in the midst of a storm. That's why the name was chosen."
The service center also takes its name from its parent group, the Anchor Mental Health Association.
For many AMHA members, the storms are the depressions that can result from the stress and strain of everyday living. For others, the stresses and strains pushed them to the brink of mental illness. Anchor helped pull them back.
Last week, members of the association held an awards luncheon at the social center to celebrate the achievements of AMHA members. Eleven members were awarded certificates for completing programs in AMHA work readiness workshops and then successfully holding community CETA jobs, which have now become permanent positionS.
Several CETA employers were also awarded certificates. THey included the office of the U.S. Commision on Civil Rights Associates for Renewal in Education, Inc., the American Association for Workers of the Blind and the Boys Club.
The Stoddard Baptist Home for the elderly received a plague for hiring the largest number of AMHA members.
"People came into the CETA program because they were District residents, low income and unemployed," said Joseph A. Martin Jr., director of the AMHA job readiness program. "What we looked for was motivation to work - that they really wanted a job."
Martin said the AMHA found that motivation in six CETA candidates who completed training programs in areas such as clerical, maintenance, security and food service jobs before beginning their temporary CETA jobs. All six workers have become full-time employes.
"I also want to thank the employers," said Martin. "They took a large responsibility and worked with you."
In many cases it was the other way around, said Brenda Nixon, an employer who hired CETA workers.
"I would like to thank them (the CETA workers) for being willing to come to us," she told the group of about 30 persons. Nixon praised a young woman, hired as a receptionist for her firm, and a man, hired as a general office worker, for their efficiency and capability.
"Her courtesy, warmth and ability on the telephone received numerous compliments. And (he) is an active and competent office worker," said Nixon.
"It's not easy to deal with the elderly, but they're all doing beautiful work," said Virginia Watson, lauding the employes as she accepted the plague in behalf of Eula C. DeLaine, director of the Stoddard Baptist Home.
For the AMHA members, the encouragement from employers, friends and neighbors who attended the luncheon was eagerly accepted.
"I feel much better in Anchor. It helped me develop myself," said one employee who works as a security guard at the Stoddard Baptish Home. "I was a little shook up. I didn't know how it would be working around old folks. A lady there told me to look at it as if I was taking care of my own family. That's what I did. And it has been a joyful experience."
The receptionist reiterated those feelings. "I feel better about myself that I can actually hold down a job for a change.
"We couldn't have a nicer boss," she said of Nixon. "She likes people."
Liking people is what AMHA is all about, said Dudley, who studied 12 years for the priesthood before deciding to become a teacher. He said the adjustments he had to make in his own life have helped him understand how traumatic change can be for people.
He came to Anchor two years ago, after teaching for several years.
"We believe that members of the association have something to contribute whether they're professionals or not," said Dudley. Now the association is trying to get that message across to the community.
Dudley speaks emotionally about public misconceptions about mental illness. He said several AMHA clients had reluctantly told him to stop mailing them AMHA newsletters because their landlords had told them "to leave their apartments or rooms (because) they didn't want crazies living with them."
"That upset me terribly. I think people need to grow up a little. We feel one of our commitments is to educate the community. We need volunteers desperately. I feel that's one way we can educate members of the community and have them join us, too."
According to Dudley, recent mental health statistics in Washington indicate that six out of 10 people have had the help of a psychiatrist at one time or another.
"Why we, therefore, judge others is the baffling thing to me."
Anchor was begun by the Archdiocese of Washington 21 years ago as a social club at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, the federally run mental institution for District residents, said Dudley.
In later years the program was moved into the city to help mental patients gain social acceptance and encouragement in the community.
Today , in addition to the social center which services about 200 persons annually. AMHA has a halfway house at 1212 Monroe Street NE., and a sheltered workshop at 804 Rhode Island Ave. NW.Monsignor John G. Kuhn is executive director of AMHA.
In Decembers, members of the workshop will provide Hecht's with handcrafted angels to be sold to raise funds for their 1979 program operation, said Dudley.
John Daugherty, director of the sheltered workshop, said the agency has an annual operating budget of $400,000. About $25,000 is supplied by the United Way and the Catholic Archidiocese of Washington, he said. The remainder comes from fulfiling government contracts and community services through the sheltered workshops, fees paid by halfway house residents, donations and fundraising projects.