By Leah Call  

It’s difficult to find a person in the Coulee Region today that does not know someone battling drug or alcohol addiction. For those suffering the effects of addiction, it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. For decades the Coulee Council on Addictions (CCA) has been there with much-needed services and support. Since July 9, 2018, they have provided those critical services from a new building, the Coulee Recovery Center, at 933 Ferry St. in La Crosse.

The new 13,000-square-foot facility more than doubles the council’s former space on West Avenue, an aging building with stairs to the lower level. “In that building we were not able to be responsive to people of all abilities—which wasn’t meeting the needs of all people seeking recovery,” explains Cheryl Hancock, CCA executive director. 

Hancock describes the new facility as a “much more positive place to go.”

“Buildings can affect people’s emotions and their perspective. When you go into a building that is dark and dank and old, it doesn’t bring with it a joyful kind of feeling,” she adds. “The response we have gotten from people as they come into the new building is that it is so much more inviting and bright.”

The welcoming space energizes council staff to carry out their vision: to help every individual and family recover. They accomplish that vision through a range of services and programming. 

From noon to 8 p.m. daily, some 30 to 50 individuals drop by to take part in educational programming, attend support meetings, participate in organized social activities or just hang out.

“People are told as they seek recovery they no longer should hang out with people they used with or drank with, because that will oftentimes lead to relapse,” says Hancock. “So here is a space where they can meet new people that are seeking the same long-term goals.”

CCA staff are involved in prevention education at La Crosse County and Trempealeau County schools, as well as collaboration and advocacy throughout the area. Inside the building, the focus is on early intervention and support for those seeking long-term recovery. 

Educational programming includes topics such as mindfulness and meditation in recovery. Social programming might be a Packer game, karaoke or various outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, disc golf or a potluck at the park. 

“We also have space for independent support groups to meet,” adds Hancock. “In our old building more than 50 support group meetings were held in a month. We anticipate that number to be much larger in the new space.”

A coffee shop inside the facility serves as space for fellowship after meetings. Hancock adds, “The building itself is meant to support people as they seek long-term recovery—a safe place for them to be.”

Building Support

A year of fundraising resulted in donations from individuals, private foundations and area businesses. “We weren’t sure what the response would be because there is a stigma that goes with supporting people in addiction and recovery, but we were very pleased with the response we got,” says Hancock. 

Brickl Bros. is among those businesses that helped make the center a reality. In addition to financial support, Brickl Bros. was involved in the actual construction along with La Crosse-based architectural firm HSR Associates, who handled the building design with some guidance from Brickl Bros.

“This project required significant community involvement,” says Greg Brickl. “The center is an important tool for our community to leverage in order to combat the growing problem of addiction, and we are extremely happy to have helped make it happen.”

For more information about Coulee Council on Addictions, please visit www.couleecouncil.org.

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