“We’re going to save lives in ways they haven’t been saved before.”
Clearly overwhelmed with excitement, Kiesler Wellness Center co-director Amanda Okech explained the basic mission of the new community collaborative mental health recovery center during a recognition ceremony for donors, founders and members Wednesday, June 14.
“The beauty of this building will remind people they are of worth,” added Okech of the Kiesler Wellness Center.
Excited to showcase the $3.9 million project to the community for the first time, Okech and co-director Steven Loney welcomed an impressed crowd in the facility’s massive great room.
Loney applauded benefactors for funding a place that will warmly welcome those who walk in and connect them with the resources they need to improve their lives.
This new person-centered focus, Loney and Okech explained, will build on the strengths of individuals, “to add beauty, structure to a person’s life” because when people know they have worth, “lives skyrocket.”
Building off the former Kiesler Clubhouse model of peer-driven, community-supported recovery, the new Kiesler Wellness Center was created to be a resource hub where community members can come together to find and share resources and connect people to the mental health services, education and employment opportunities they need. It is also intended to grow friendships and spread hope.
A few Kiesler Clubhouse members spoke during Wednesday’s event about what the program has done to improve their situations and what they envision it doing for others going forward.
“Kiesler is a life wellness center because it saves your life,” said Michael Winterringer who described members as a family. “This is going to be a place ‘where everyone knows your name.’ It will be used well.”
The new facility is a massive improvement from the former Kiesler Clubhouse location which was much too small to accommodate programming that continues to expand with both need and innovative ideas.
The campus approach at the new center will offer various opportunities for personal growth. With the large, comfortable meeting room at the center, it also features a library and reading nook, art room, shop room, conference areas, rec room and game area, outdoor patio and commercial kitchen with café-style eating area. The Community Café will now be serving the weekly free community dinners on Tuesday and Thursday from the Kiesler Wellness Center kitchen.
The namesake of the clubhouse, and now the center, was the late Dr. Frank Kiesler who helped hundreds of people in the Grand Rapids area with their mental health needs for decades. The psychiatrist and university professor passed away in 2001. His daughter, Anne (Kiesler) Johnson, attended the recognition event Wednesday and spoke about her father’s idea that it takes everyone in the community to come together to help those suffering from illness.
A public grand-opening and ribbon-cutting event will be held Monday, June 19, starting at noon.
Kiesler Wellness Center is located at 3130 SE Second Avenue in Grand Rapids (directly east of Wal-Mart).