By Glenna Wortman-Obie
Big equipment lined the property and a swirling wind blew up dust from the barren ground. But those standing near the property’s edge – members of the staff, Board of Directors and President’s Council–drew closer to officially break the ground and imagine the new headquarters of Intermountain at 3240 Dredge Drive.
“We are here to stake a claim and claim our stake,” declared Intermountain Chaplain, Dana Holzer, invoking an image appropriate to the setting where a mining dredge once churned the soil in search of the mother lode.
Dr. Elizabeth Kohlstaedt, Chief Clinical Officer, reminded the crowd that Intermountain has moved well past its long-time role as a residential treatment program. Last year, she noted, Intermountain served almost 1200 children in 11 different services and 95 % of those services were community based, scattered throughout the Helena community and other communities. “Our footprint in the community is large,” she said.
Intermountain has, for years, been adding resources for children and their families across Montana who struggle with children’s mental health, behavioral and emotional issues. Each service is unique, but shares Intermountain’s mission of “healing through healthy relationships.” This new facility brings these valuable services under the same roof and provides a single point of entry for struggling families; the first integrated service of its kind in the state.
The Intermountain Board of Directors approved the purchase of the property on the north side of Helena and though fundraising for the new building is on-going, a financial package has been secured through Valley Bank to begin construction. The receipt of a Mental Health Trust Fund grant provided the community support and impetus to move forward. But it is the demand for integrated services that has paved the way for this major transformation in the life of our 102 year-old agency.
After those attending had driven their own stake declaring their personal commitment to Intermountain’s future, John Watson, President of the Board of Directors described how his commitment to Intermountain is inspired by the staff and children. “When you have a conversation with the people who have dedicated their lives and livelihoods to the mission of Intermountain you’ll learn what they have learned,” he said. “That somehow, when we work so hard to develop better children, we become better adults . . . as individuals, as communities and as a society.”
Services in the new 22,000 square foot facility will include children’s psychological assessment and outpatient therapy, psychiatric clinic, in-home support for birth/kinship, adoptive and foster families and school-based counseling and therapy. The facility will also include the ChildWise Institute learning center for community seminars, lectures, and workshops and will be the new headquarters for Intermountain’s administration. Designed by Schlenker and McKittrick Architects, the project is contracted to Diamond Construction.
Intermountain’s residential services will remain at the Lamborn Street address where renovation and expansion is slated to begin later this summer with the addition of two new residential cottages.
“The 21st Century opens up new opportunities and new demands. This facility will help us meet the challenge long into the future,” CEO Jim FitzGerald said. “We look forward to helping more kids and more families lead healthy, happy lives and thrive.”