SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Soon, space and social distancing will no longer be a concern for one non-profit in Southwest Missouri.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a new home: the former Victim Center building on Boonville. This is the first time the non-profit has ever owned a building in Springfield.
Executive director Stephanie Appleby says she’s couldn’t be more grateful for the community’s support.
“We had an amazing donor that came forward and said ‘What are your needs? I want to help you,” Appleby said. “I said, ‘We really would like to have a new building.’ The pandemic has caused a lot of issues with social distancing, especially for our support groups. A lot of people don’t think about that. It’s been very difficult in our current location to social distance.”
The donor wants to remain anonymous, but Appleby says the man is a Springfield business owner who has a family member who lives with a mental illness. She says the man wanted to contribute and give back. He donated $100,000.
“A lot of times we are the last ones to get things like that,” Appleby said. “Mental health isn’t something that people generally want to give to. So we were shocked and surprised and just super humbled. I never thought this would happen.”
Once Appleby received the donation, she started looking around Springfield for a potential property to buy. She noticed a ‘for sale’ sign at the Victim Center’s old building.
“I rushed over super fast and looked at it and fell in love,” Appleby said. “I thought this was something that would work for our clients. I wanted to get something that was familiar to them. A lot of times our clients don’t like change. It makes them anxious. I figured this was something that would be perfect.”
NAMI’s new home is only five minutes away from its North Robberson location. Its new space is being renovated right now. When it’s finished it will have two support group rooms, an art room, an expanded computer lab and a mental health resource library.
NAMI wanted a library at its Robberson center but there wasn’t enough room.
“I love everything about this location,” Appleby said. “I love that we’re on a bus route still. [I love that] we’re close to resources for our folks that can walk across the street. I love that we’re near the hospital. I also love that we’re not in a medical tower anymore. A lot of times that caused some anxiety for some folks. This gives us a separation from our current location.”
The nonprofit will also have outside groups and socially distanced events at its building.
“There’s so much more that we’re going to be able to do,” Appleby said. “We’re still going to have our Warm Line. We’re super excited to look at the different options. We want the community to weigh in and say what they feel like they need or what’s needed. We’ve got a lot more freedom now. I’m so excited.”
NAMI paid $515,000 dollars for the building. It still needs to buy new furniture, flooring and paint.
“We put of a lot of funds into the down payment for this,” Appleby said. “We’re still needing a lot more. We don’t want to use all of our resources for the building because we still want to continue to provide the services that we do now, which is help with medications and special needs help and be able to go out into the community and do what we do. It would be really helpful if we had some donors step forward and maybe help us out.”
Appleby says her group will provide naming rights to people who donate substantial amounts of money. To help, you can call NAMI’s local office at 417-864-7119, or click here. Appleby says donations of up-to-date mental health books and crafts supplies would also be helpful.
NAMI plans to move into its new location by late September. It hopes to be fully open by October. Its center on Robberson Avenue will still be open in the meantime.