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Bowen Center gives Centennial Awards

AWARD: Bowen Center CEO Kurt Carlson awardsWabash City Schools Superintendent Jason Callahan with the Doc Bowen Distinguished Services award during the Bowen Center’s celebration of Otis Bowen’s 100th birthday on Wednesday.

by ANDREW MACIEJEWSKI - amaciejewski@wabashplaindealer.com

Bowen Center board members, employees and administration honored the legacy and memory of Otis “Doc” Bowen by presenting awards to Wabash community members whose work transformed mental health services here.

More than 200 people gathered to celebrate Bowen’s centennial birthday at the Honeywell Center on Wednesday evening.

Bowen was elected governor of Indiana in 1972, becoming the first Indiana governor to serve two consecutive terms. During his tenure, he worked to introduce a mental health center system in Indiana. In 1977, the Bowen Center was renamed in his honor.

Bowen Center CEO Kurt Carlson said Wednesday’s board meeting was unlike any board meeting he’s attended before. This year, the Bowen Center gave its first awards to honor Bowen’s legacy, since he passed away in 2013 at the age of 95.

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Chris Goff received the Otis R. Bowen Centennial award for establishing a legacy of care and commitment to providing mental health services. And Wabash City School’s Superintendent Jason Callahan received the Doc Bowen Distinguished Services award for his efforts to meet social and emotional needs for both students and staff.

Carlson said he’s known Goff since Goff became a judge in Wabash County’s Superior Court. Not long after taking the bench, Goff set up a meeting to pitch Carlson on the idea of starting a drug court in Wabash to offer mental health care for citizens facing drug charges.

“We went all in,” Carlson said. “We were a partner right from when he thought of the idea and made the application. It worked wonderfully. We’ve helped so many people through that drug court.”

Goff said that he will always treasure his time in Wabash County because, he said, without community support, Wabash would not have a problem-solving court system.

“That’s what makes Wabash special,” Goff said. “That’s what I think makes the Bowen Center special. There are problems, and problem-solving courts are about that. This community is about that. And it’s not about being able to solve every problem on a global scale, but it’s being able to confront those problems, have an honest conversation with the community stakeholders and figure out the best way to resolve them.”

Bowen Center Director Jason Cussen nominated Callahan because the Wabash City Schools superintendent introduced two therapists and 11 skill coaches to the school corporation.

Carlson said Callahan’s involvement with the community went beyond helping students.

“He really is helping develop the community of Wabash, not only educationally but also in terms of other aspects of development,” Carlson said. “He’s a real jewel for the county.”

Callahan encouraged the crowd to look at the mission that Bowen followed and continue to use their personal missions as a way to stay focused on providing for the community.

“I implore you to keep providing that service to others and live that mission of serving others,” he said.