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Improving lives by encouraging recovery,healing minds and restoring hope.

Serene setting promotes healing, provides shelter

Posted On Fri. Sep 23rd, 2016
By : The Courier
Comment: 0

The creation of a new serenity garden at Century Health’s Tree Line Center brought together volunteers from throughout the community, including a young man seeking Eagle Scout status. The center will host an open house Tuesday evening to show off the facility and the new garden. (Provided photo)




Several months ago, Century Health set out to create a beautiful outdoor gathering space for those facing an ugly time in their lives. What it ended up with was just that, along with a reminder of the community’s incredibly giving nature. The serenity garden at Tree Line Center, the agency’s newest residential facility, features a fire pit circled by pine trees, bushes and geraniums, flanked by a brand-new shelter house and raised vegetable gardens that could “supply the whole world with tomatoes.” The vast majority of the vegetation, labor and materials were donated by various businesses and community organizations while the shelter house, a critical piece of the project, was a labor of love for an aspiring Eagle Scout and his mentor.


The Tree Line Center, located on Crystal Avenue, opened in January 2015. Century Health Executive Director Tina Pine describes it as “one of Century Health’s newest programs” offering “our highest level of intensity for our substance abuse programs.” It will host an open house to show off the new serenity garden from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday.


The co-ed residential facility has 12 beds and offers 30 hours of treatment — primarily for substance abuse — per week. Substance abuse program director Pat Hardy said about half of the center’s current residents are there for opiate-related issues and have been referred either by themselves, their families, a physician or hospital inpatient service or the criminal justice system. Residents participate in treatment groups, life skills development, community supports such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other programs including off-site yoga classes. Hardy said research supports the theory that offering a garden or outdoor space produces a calming effect and promotes wellness and mindfulness.


“The outdoor environment is an extension of the indoor therapeutic environment,” said fund development director and clinician Gary Bright. “If you want people to heal, you need to provide them with a place that’s beautiful.”


An additional benefit of the outdoor feature, however, is as simple as providing more space for the residents to seek solitude or to take their visitors. Hardy noted each resident can have up to four visitors at a time and, with 12 beds, the indoor gathering areas can easily become crowded. Creating an outdoor space offers a place for that overflow while also providing an alternative meeting space for therapy, art and gratitude programs.


The shelter house, the crown-jewel of the project, creates a place for residents to entertain their visitors through picnics and cookouts. It also allowed 17-year-old Michael Dudash to complete his final project in his quest for Eagle Scout status.


The Findlay High School senior got involved with the project about six months ago through his scout leader, who works in one of Century Health’s offices and mentioned the project to Michael’s dad, who happens to be his troop’s scoutmaster. Michael and his mentor, Doug Couchot, sat down with Century Health facilities manager Nita Rider and her husband, Dave, who drew up some initial plans for the shelter.


After multiple trips to Menards, four or five revisions to their materials list, four weekends and 420 volunteer hours, Michael was there to see the finished shelter house take shape. He admitted the terminology involved in carpentry was a lot to handle at first, but Couchot’s mentorship made the project much easier to handle.


“It was really helpful for him to be there,” he said of his mentor, adding Couchot also helped him to organize his team and to visualize the overall goal.


As the months-long garden project progressed, volunteers and Tree Line residents got more comfortable around one another. Hardy said finally, after weeks of shy interaction, the residents asked if they could organize a cookout for the volunteers as a way to say thank you.


Bright said the cookout was a success and helped to break down barriers among the two groups while also working to combat the stigma surrounding substance abuse and mental illness.


“It seemed totally natural. We all just sat and had lunch,” he said. “It was just people sitting down and having a meal together. And that’s huge.”


Griteman: 419-427-8477

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