Drop-in mental health center opened at new location in Fairbanks


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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A new mental health drop-in center has opened in Fairbanks following a reorganization of its predecessor.

The new facility opened Sunday at the J.P. Jones center in south Fairbanks.

The Northern Hope Center serves adults with behavioral issues. It stems from the Northern Door Clubhouse, which was formerly run out of the Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center, but changed its services partly because of the behavioral health center's financial problems in the wake of its closure last year, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://is.gd/Zef1cR) reported.

In January, the clubhouse resumed services as a volunteer peer support program that offered clients free meals, showers, laundry facilities and a social gathering place.

Northern Hope board of directors chairman Greg Young said the clubhouse experienced growing pains and has undergone a complete reorganization, which led to the new center.

"We came of age, not chronologically, but we came to a point where we had to be on our own," Young said.

The state Department of Health and Social Services last spring offered a $100,000 grant to help hire a full-time director and cover operating expenses.

The clubhouse program ran into problems as people wanted to pull in different directions in a move from entirely volunteer support to paid employees, Young said.

"Now you're not just volunteers with a very small budget. The day you hire an employee, the whole game changes," he said. "That's what happened, and we weren't ready for it."

The services offered by the program ceased at the community behavioral health center over the summer. Then began the reorganization.

The state grant was reduced to $75,000 for this year. Young said it's expected to increase to $100,000 next year.

Another $25,000 has been pledged by the city of Fairbanks.

The new center lacks shower and laundry services at the moment, but will essentially provide the same other services as its predecessor.

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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