The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County presents new mental health quarters


March 29, 2018

Rick Nelson

Tristan Wozniack and Chris Bischoff, right, spoke with visitors at an open house for Wahkiakum Health & Human Services new quarters, tentatively called the Hope House.

Wahkiakum Health & Human Services is slowly bringing their new quarters, tentatively called the Hope House, into operation.

Last summer, the congregation of the United Church of Christ, Congregational, disbanded and donated their church building and parsonage to Health & Human Services so that it would benefit the people of Wahkiakum County.

Since then, Health & Human Services has been painting, moving and repositioning. On Tuesday, department staff held an open house to show what they've done and describe plans for future programs.

"We're really thankful for the use of this space," said Tristan Wozniak, coordinator of the county behavioral health and substance abuse programs. "We send out a big thank you to the Congregational Church for donating this space."

Programs housed in the facility when it was still the church have continued, she said. These include the senior meals program, some support groups and the Strengthening Families program.

Some staff have moved into the building.

Department Director Chris Bischoff said more programs will get going once the Cathlamet Town Council has approved a conditional use permit to authorize department operation in a residential area. The town planning commission will hold a hearing on the matter next Tuesday; council action could come April 16.

Wozniak said the current support programs will continue. The school support specialist will be able to have confidential space to meet with students when space isn't available in the schools across the street. The mental health programs based in the center will be those whose therapists go out to meet their clients where it's most convenient for the clients.

"We will not," Wozniak said, addressing rumors, "do a homeless shelter here, or a warming center, or a needle exchange or safe use site."

Bischoff added that the former chapel will be a large open space that will be able to accommodate classes such as yoga or belly dancing.

The former parsonage is now referred to as "the annex," Bischoff said.

An older house, it is not ADA accessible, Bischoff said, so it has limited use for staff.

"It would be fairly spendy to get it to be ADA accessible," he said.

Also, the department has moved its programs out of the Johnson House, Bischoff said.

The house will be sold, said county Commissioner Dan Cothren.


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