ENTERPRISE — The Hearts for Health Integrated Care Center construction campaign recently picked up a huge financial boost.
A virtual live fundraiser for the care facility, which took place Feb. 6, raised more than $221,000, the second-most raised in annual fundraising for the building — a partnership between the Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness and Winding Waters Clinic — which is currently under construction in Enterprise and set to be completed late this summer.
It was the fourth such fundraiser — though the first virtual one — and was surpassed in giving only by the inaugural fundraising event, according to Tosca Rawls, Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness public relations and development director.
“The first year, we actually raised $324,000, which was surprising,” Rawls said. “It was the first year Center for Wellness had done any public fundraising.”
The previous three years, the event has been held at the Wallowa Lake Lodge, and last year only brought in about $55,000.
“Specific to this event, and just in general, I am always surprised and just grateful for community support for this project, and then also for the other worthy projects out there,” Winding Waters Clinic CEO Nic Powers said.
Rawls believes two items attributed to the boost in fundraising this year.
“Going virtual allowed us to reach more people during an event,” she said. “When we were in the lodge in person ... we had 84 guests. This year we were not limited to the size of a location. Virtually, you could join from anywhere as long as you had internet. I believe that is one piece.”
She noted, for example, that at one time during the event, it was being viewed live on 95 devices, and likely had more eyeballs than that watching. The clip of the event has received more than 400 views on YouTube.
The second reason for the boost, Rawls said, was the community backing for the center, especially during the pandemic.
“They really believe in this project,” she said. “They believe in the integrated care model that will take place in the new building. I believe that during the event we told a compelling story. We were able to create a video for people to watch that (showed) the integrated care model.”
The 97-minute event included the story of Wallowa County resident Kimberly Botts, who shared her struggle with substance and alcohol abuse and triumphs gained through the integrated care model.
The integrated care center will offer a wide range of care options, including everything from behavioral and mental health and substance abuse services to dental, medical and nutritional care.
“We’re going to have a teaching kitchen, which will provide opportunities (to learn about) healthy cooking. People can take and teach virtual nutrition classes,” Rawls said. “We’ll have a very large conference area with some state of the art technology, where our community could hold trainings. A lot of our staff travel for training. Our hope is with this facility as an option more trainings are brought here locally.
“The world is the community’s oyster with this facility.”
Rawls added the center has discussed the idea of including veterans services, as well.
The hope is that having a variety of options in a one-stop shop location, Rawls said, will further help those who need mental help from being identified as such from the outside world from something as simple as seeing their vehicle parked outside the center.
“We hope it helps to reduce the stigma for receiving mental health services,” she said. “If someone feels self-conscious about receiving mental health services, no one is going to know why you are there. Hopefully it gives people some anonymity.”
The construction costs of the center is expected to come in at about $8 million. Rawls said grants are being sought after to help bring in the remainder of the funds.
“I know we’re working hard to avoid going into debt to finish the building,” Powers said. “The ability to show community support to fund this project makes it more likely that as we reach out to foundations for capital support they’ll want to jump on to support the project.”
Tours of the facility are being planned for the springtime, Rawls said. Those who missed the event but still want to donate to the project can visit the Center for Wellness website, www.wvcenterforwellness.org.