Church Opens Independent Community Counseling Center in Northeast Colorado Springs | Content reserved for subscribers

Identifying mental health care as an urgent community need in May 2021, church members in Mountain Springs have been busy raising funds to build a counseling center on the property, where Black Forest and Falcon border the northeast of Colorado Springs.

“We realized there was an increase in mental health needs since COVID, and we were getting many requests for assistance,” said Gaby San Paolo, executive director and board chair of the new MSC Counseling Center. , 7375 Adventure Way.

The church had no counselors and was referring people to city centers, San Paolo said. “But they were full; there are not enough advisers.

In a surge of spirit-filled energy, church leaders raised $430,000 in donations last September and, on top of that, secured a $400,000 grant from federal pandemic recovery funds. .

Donations funded renovations to the property’s former barn, which had a dirt floor and 3,000 square feet of open space used for storage.

The new MSC Advice Center will hold a grand public opening from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

Five licensed counselors are in private practice in the freestanding building, with individual offices. Each has a specialty, such as marriage and family, adolescents, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, general trauma, and substance abuse.

Counselors moved in on Monday and immediately began seeing patients.

“Our intention is to transform lives,” said San Paolo, who is also the church’s executive director of operations. “It was our vision to be here for the community and to serve our neighbors.”

Six interns will arrive in a few weeks and will work under the supervision of two advisers.

The church’s long-standing pantry occupies part of the building, and a church-operated aquaponic greenhouse sits nearby.

The three entities form the Family Dining Center, with the Counseling Center and Food Pantry being separate 501c3 nonprofit organizations.

The non-denominational church opened in 1995 and moved to its current location less than a decade later. Before the pandemic, worshipers exceeded 2,000, San Paolo said. The church is back to 1,800 to 1,900 members in the fast-growing area of ​​El Paso County, she said, where many young families and military households are moving to the area.

The church has made a name for itself as “not just insular but doing a very broad ministry,” said Jan Rosko, one of five councilors at the new center.

“I attend this church, and it’s really about serving the community through the pantry, the greenhouse, fixing people’s homes, and now the council,” she said. “This church is really involved.”

Rosko had been in a group practice in town, but said she wanted to link her work to the new center because she wanted to be able to make mental health care accessible to everyone.

MSC counselors accept people with insurance, people without insurance and people who can partially pay for services based on their income, San Paolo said.

Instead of paying rent, utilities and maintenance, counselors offer sessions to clients and receive payment through client fees and award money to cover those who cannot pay, said San Paolo.

The COVID recovery grant pays for staff and operations, she said, and the center is not an income-generating entity for the church.

“We want to keep it separate, because we are open to the whole community,” San Paolo said.

Clients are matched with advisors based on their needs and have the option to book an appointment with an intern for $10.

The model of a church creating a community counseling center is not unheard of, Rosko said. She interned at Pikes Peak Christian Church in Safety, which offers individual and family counseling to five interns supervised by a licensed counselor and a counselor candidate.

Sanctuary Church on the west side of Colorado Springs specializes in providing counseling and therapy to people suffering from any type of addiction.

Additionally, the multimedia organization Focus on the Family refers a network of Christian counselors in Colorado Springs to its followers.

“There are so many people hurting, and it’s like a wasteland for councilors here,” Rosko said of the Falcon, Peyton and Black Forest neighborhoods. “I’ve been through a lot of trauma and relationship difficulties, and those issues seem endless.”

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