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Recovery Community Center

Support groups, family workshops planned

By Angie Landsverk

A community center for those in recovery will open soon in downtown Waupaca.

The Recovery Community Center will be located at 200 N. Main St.

It will open to the public on Monday, Dec. 17, with hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Wes Van Epps will be based in the center full time as its operations coordinator.

“It a place where people in the community can go,” he said.

Workshops for families and recovery coach training will be offered.

Van Epps said it will also be a place where those in recovery may go to work on their resumes and job interview skills.

He also envisions yoga, mindfullness and meditation classes being held there.

“And we’re opening it up to other support groups, any type of support groups,” Van Epps said. “We want people to support it.”

He said there are movements in the community already with Waupaca County’s drug court and the recent opening of the Oxford House.

“This will add to that,” Van Epps said.

The Recovery Community Center is part of Project WisHope, an organization recently launched by Van Epps and Peter Brunzelle.
Brunzelle is the project’s director.

He is also the director of SALS Recovery Center, in Waukesha.

“Project WisHope is a project that came out of that business,” Van Epps explained.

Van Epps connected with Brunzelle several years ago.

“I myself am in long-term recovery for substance abuse,” he said.

Van Epps, a 2008 graduate of Wild Rose High School, said he admitted he had a problem in 2013.

He went to an in-patient treatment facility in Oshkosh, followed by six months at a halfway house in Prescott, Arizona.

“There it was more about life skills, sober living,” Van Epps said. “Once you do treatment, you hope things change. When I moved back (to this area), I didn’t connect with recovery groups. After about nine months, I went back to the halfway house.”

That is when he reconnected with Brunzelle, who he previously met there.

Brunzelle shared with Van Epps how he was moving back to Wisconsin.

They stayed in contact during Van Epps’ six months in Arizona.

“When I was done, I reached out to Peter,” he said. “I was offered a sober living house manager position in Waukesha.”

During that time, Van Epps completed the necessary education for a substance abuse counseling license in the state.

After completing that in November 2016, he moved into an outpatient coordinator position at SALS Recovery Center.

A couple years ago, the two of them started talking about creating a resource platform for Wisconsin.

Brunzelle came up with the idea of a behavioral health resource map for the state.

“We worked on it for 18 months,” Van Epps said. “We asked each place questions.”

He said www.wishope.org has been used by more than 4,700 people since they launched it in September.

“Now any organization already on the map can update their information, or someone can submit to be added,” Van Epps said.

The map was for the first step for Project WisHope.

They are seeking nonprofit status for the organization.

Since creating the resource map, they added a peer to peer recovery resource and support line: 844-WIS-HOPE.

They opened a Community Recovery Center in Waukesha and now one in Waupaca.

Van Epps recognized the need for a center here.

“Another piece of the project is having recovery coaches available at local hospitals,” said Van Epps, who is a recovery coach trainer.

“I know there are some recovery coaches in the community already,” he said. “I’ve been connecting with people here – other recovery coaches, drug court. I’ve been really trying to connect, put the pieces together.”

They are seeking grants and will host fundraisers to support the center’s efforts.

He said one side of the center’s space will be a lounge area and the other side a space for training.

Those interested in its vision or in donating funds toward the center may contact Van Epps at 844-WIS-HOPE.

“You never know what will happen, as far as other services we can provide,” he said. “The peer to peer movement is increasing in Wisconsin.”

Van Epps said he has bought into the movement, because he has seen it work.

He keeps himself in check with his own recovery and wants opinions from others in the community about what is needed and how they may help.

“To be able to do something here like this is pretty amazing,” Van Epps said. “When I first got into recovery, I had lots of hopes and dreams. It’s been a lot of work, but a lot of people who supported me along the way.”

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