The Chamber of Commerce was honored to be part of the ribbon cutting ceremony for United Services. We are proud to be a good partner with this organization and to work so tirelessly for so many years to help bring funding equity to our region.
Local dignitaries attend facility’s official opening
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
MANSFIELD — As the need for mental health services increases, it is becoming difficult for nonprofit agencies like United Services to obtain state and federal funding.
But as U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, pointed out, characterizing this part of Connecticut as the “Quiet Corner” is a “misnomer.”
For example, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new United Services facility in Mansfield Monday afternoon, he pointed out United Services employees have “persistently made sure that no one forgets the work that happens here.”
” Nothing says mental parity more than walking through the doors of this facility,” said Courtney, the ! keynote speaker during the event.
United Services’ new, 30,000- square- foot facility opened June 5 at 140 N. Frontage Road, replacing the old rental space at 132 Mansfield Ave. in Willimantic.
The new facility is called the Windham Regional Health and Wellness Center.
United Services is a private nonprofit that operates more than 30 behavioral health programs, including outpatient programs and a domestic violence shelter.
Several local legislators attended the event, which included tours of the facility.
“Today is not about bricks and mortar,” United Services Board of Directors President John Deary said.
Rather, he said, it’s about “the people we serve and the professionals! who serve them.”
According to a 2015 “community needs” survey conducted by Windham Community Memorial Hospital personnel, 73.9 percent of survey takers claimed mental health was a “major problem” in northeast Connecticut at that time, while 26.1 percent of survey takers felt it was a “moderate problem.”
United Services President/ Chief Executive Officer Diane Manning said United Services outgrew the space in Willimantic “due to a more than 250 percent increase in outpatient services.”
She also said there was a need for ” specialty space” to add groups and wellness activities.
The expansion and consolidation project, which cost $ 13 million, was paid for using federal and local bank loans, as well as corporate donations raised through the Neighb! orhood Assistance Act program and community donations.
“All of this would not be possible without funding from the USDA ( U. S. Department of Agriculture),” Manning said.
The USDA oversees rural development programs, which the project qualified as.
Several of those who assisted with the project were at the event.
“Diane and her team set a tremendous example of how to provide compassionate mental health care and substance abuse care for patients and families,” said Emily Boushee, outreach assistant to Sen. Chris Murphy, DConn., reading remarks prepared by Murphy. Murphy could not attend the event.
“As the stigma against mental illness and addiction continues, so too does our fi! ght to thoughtfully fund staff and provide necessary treatment! services,” Boushee said, quoting Murphy.
The building is powered by photovoltaic cells on the roof and heated and cooled with geothermal wells.
” The design uses the newest technology for passive solar and insulation and we know that it will cost us far less to heat, cool and maintain this building than our old rental space,” Manning said.
Another interesting feature is the addition of an autism center, which the Willimantic facility did not have.
That center, which Manning said would be ready in the fall, will serve children and adults.
She thanked those involved with the project, noting there were more than 30 members of the project team.
“We had a dream! more than a decade ago and more than two years ago we moved forward with a team that worked to make this dream a reality today,” Manning said.
She said Courtney has been a ” tireless advocate” for United Services and the project.
“We appreciate his support over the years,” Manning said.
For more information on United Services and its programs, visit www.unitedservicesct. org.
Follow Michelle Firestone on Twitter – @mfirestonetc.