“For some, (Friendship Place) is their stability and support that gets them through the week”

"I love it here. It helps me so much," says Christine Dassey as she and Clare Pfaendtner bantered back and forth while playing a board game.

Dassey kept her hands busy between turns by crocheting one of two brightly colored blankets, one that she says will be for her daughter.

Photo caption: Christine Dassey, who often participates in programs at Friendship Place in Oshkosh, crochets as a way to cope with anxiety and make beautiful objects for loved ones.

Dassey, of Omro, and Pfaendtner, of Oshkosh, are regular visitors at Friendship Place in Oshkosh. The nonprofit provides outreach programming for people with mental illness at a Neenah location as well.

With 100 percent of staff as trained professionals, they provide counseling, socialization, education and recreation that can be life-saving and life-changing, says Lori Hill, executive director. With limited treatment available in the Fox Cities, people in crisis wait three to six months to see a psychiatrist.


"I GET TO COME (TO FRIENDSHIP PLACE) AND BE AROUND OTHER PEOPLE, AND IT DOESN'T COST MONEY." - Christine Dassey, Omro



Friendship Place provides the stability and support for people to cope with their illness.

Coming to Friendship Place was hard, Dassey says, but strongly recommended by her health care provider. She's attempted suicide more times than she can count on one hand, and sitting in her apartment was not helping her get better.

"It was really scary. I didn't know what to expect," she says. "I'm scared of people and there were a bunch of people here that first day. But I forced myself to keep coming back and now, it's like a second home."

Thanks to grants from the Foundation, Friendship Place is a second home to almost 20 people on a daily basis – double what was anticipated since opening the Oshkosh location in 2014, Hill says. And 93 percent of visitors have said coming to Friendship Place has reduced the frequency of their hospital stays.

"We were really overwhelmed by the demand in Oshkosh because individuals with high anxiety really don't get out of the house that much," Hill says. "We thought it would be really difficult to have people feel comfortable coming in, but the word of mouth with individuals who receive services is that this is really working."

Support programming of organizations like Friendship Place with a gift to the Community Impact Fund

 

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