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Center of Hope expanding, resuming clinical services

Nov 22, 2016 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The project is set to cost about $500,000.

The Volunteers of America organization plans to almost double the size of the Center of Hope in Riverton by next year.

COH provides close observation for clients as well as social detoxification, transitional living, substance abuse assessments, morning meditations, group therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and help in dealing with grief and loss or connecting with resources for employment and spiritual support services.

The additional square footage will help bring back clinical services to the facility at 223 W. Adams Ave. and provide more beds for clients.

The expansion is set to cost about $500,000.

"It's going to centralize services," said COH program director Shelley Mbonu. "It's going to bring staff back on site."

Currently, COH rents office space at 625 E. Madison Ave. in Riverton in order to provide clinical services to clients and because of the lack of space at the COH. Some staff members also have offices in that building.

By expanding the building, Mbonu said time management will improve. Having all services under one roof will save in the time it takes to transport clients and the time clients have to wait to see clinicians.

The expansion will also give staff more flexibility and empower Mbonu to work in better conditions, said VOA CEO Jeff Holsinger.

Floor plan

A draft concept of the floor plans show the expansion to be situated to the east of the existing facility. It will include three offices, a health technician area, staff break area, laundry room and two bathrooms adjacent to the six new beds.

Holsinger said the bathrooms with showers are a big deal because it will be like an incentive and allow clients to have some independence.

"That's something we promote," he said.

A conference room is also a bonus, Mbonu said, and allows for staff to be trained on site. Mbonu's office will also be back at the COH, whereas now it's at the Madison building.

"Being on Madison doesn't allow us to really be effective," Holsinger said.

Groundbreaking

On Monday, Holsinger and Mbonu were joined by VOA board of directors Helen Warpness, Jim Nelson, Rob Miller, Riverton Mayor Lars Baker, Sergio Maldonado representing the Northern Arapaho Business Council, and other staff and community members.

They celebrated the ground breaking event with the traditional shovel to the dirt and praised the generous donations and help from the community. If it wasn't for the City of Riverton providing the building, the VOA would probably not be making the large investment that it is and has over the years since it merged with the former Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center in 2014, Holsinger said.

Obtaining the building also brought forward accountability to the organization, Holsinger added, because the city handed over the building with the requirement that it be used to provide the types of services they can for clients in the community.

"Without it we wouldn't have been able to bring together our services," Holsinger said. "They remain committed."

Baker concurred that the city has been a willing participant of a growing COH and have seen that improved services are making an impact financially and spiritually in the community.

"We decided we couldn't arrest our way out of this," Baker said. "We needed a better approach."

Holsinger also thanked the Wind River Hotel and Casino and their CEO Jim Conrad, for proving financial help and as well as other resources. He thanked the Riverton Police Department for their continued cooperative efforts.

Warpness addressed the crowd to remind them of how the center was before the merger and noted that the expansion would also save them money as they will no loner have to rent off-site office space.

Nelson, although he comes from Sheridan, has invested in the COH substantially, Holsinger said. Nelson fought his own battle with alcoholism, he said, and was celebrating 36 years of sobriety. He wanted to be supportive of an organization and facility that brings hope to people, he said.

"The COH is successful because the VOA gives spiritual hope," he said. "I'm glad to be a part of it."

Miller echoed those comments and said he was glad to help a center where people can visit and renew their hope. Maldonado was also appreciative of the center and its availability to the community.

Taking over the construction and planning portion of the project is Mid-Valley General Contractors and Nelson Architects, both of Riverton. Holsinger said they hope to have the expansion completed some time next summer.

"It's going to centralize services," said COH program director Shelley Mbonu. "It's going to bring staff back on site."

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From left, Volunteers of America- Northern Rockies executive director of operations Heath Steele, representing the Northern Arapaho Business Council Sergio Maldonado, Wind River Hotel and Casino CEO Jim Conrad, chairman of VOA board of directors Rob Miller, member of VOA board Jim Nelson, Riverton mayor Lars Baker, Riverton Police Department chief of police Mike Broadhead, VOA CEO Jeff Holsinger, VOA board member Bill Sousa, VOA board member Helen Warpness, COH program director Shelley Mbonu and assistant program director Barb Beebe. Photo by Alejandra Silva

From left, Volunteers of America- Northern Rockies executive director of operations Heath Steele, representing the Northern Arapaho Business Council Sergio Maldonado, Wind River Hotel and Casino CEO Jim Conrad, chairman of VOA board of directors Rob Miller, member of VOA board Jim Nelson, Riverton mayor Lars Baker, Riverton Police Department chief of police Mike Broadhead, VOA CEO Jeff Holsinger, VOA board member Bill Sousa, VOA board member Helen Warpness, COH program director Shelley Mbonu and assistant program director Barb Beebe. Photo by Alejandra Silva


From left, Volunteers of America- Northern Rockies executive director of operations Heath Steele, representing the Northern Arapaho Business Council Sergio Maldonado, Wind River Hotel and Casino CEO Jim Conrad, chairman of VOA board of directors Rob Miller, member of VOA board Jim Nelson, Riverton mayor Lars Baker, Riverton Police Department chief of police Mike Broadhead, VOA CEO Jeff Holsinger, VOA board member Bill Sousa, VOA board member Helen Warpness, COH program director Shelley Mbonu and assistant program director Barb Beebe. Photo by Alejandra Silva

From left, Volunteers of America- Northern Rockies executive director of operations Heath Steele, representing the Northern Arapaho Business Council Sergio Maldonado, Wind River Hotel and Casino CEO Jim Conrad, chairman of VOA board of directors Rob Miller, member of VOA board Jim Nelson, Riverton mayor Lars Baker, Riverton Police Department chief of police Mike Broadhead, VOA CEO Jeff Holsinger, VOA board member Bill Sousa, VOA board member Helen Warpness, COH program director Shelley Mbonu and assistant program director Barb Beebe. Photo by Alejandra Silva

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