St. Cloud Children’s Home adds new residential treatment building

Categories: Around the Diocese

New cottage designed to address today’s needs

 August 16, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Arriving at the St. Cloud Children’s Home at age 17, Cynthia (Scott) Harter already had lived in several facilities and needed a boost to get on track.

She had battled chronic depression for several years, needed to manage borderline personality disorder issues, attempted suicide and hurt herself.

At Cottage 2 of the Catholic Charities St. Cloud Children’s Home, a secure unit, she felt her life begin to change.

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Catholic Charities recently broke ground for a new intensive treatment cottage at the St. Cloud Children’s Home that will be built to better meet the needs for its current programs.
Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully / The Visitor

She found guidance through the staff and a pastor, attended classes and was able to interact with peers.

Beneficial classes

“It was probably what I needed to restart life,” she said. “The staff was really supportive and really helpful in giving me the reality of life. And to be able to interact with other kids was a nice thing. They had a basketball team and karaoke nights, making you feel a part of something.”

Cottage 2 helps children with mental health illnesses. Residents work on specific treatment goals through individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, recreation group, life skills training and education.

“I don’t think I’d be where I’m at without C2,” Harter said. “I ended up becoming more independent because I went through the program. They had a lot of classes. One was a life skills class on money management and taking care of your apartment and cooking. The nurturing staff helped too … there always was someone to talk to.”

Being the oldest at the cottage allowed her to be a leader and a mentor, which also helped her realize that “life can be worth something.”

Harter completed the Catholic Charities program in spring of 2009 and graduated from the site’s high school, Riverwoods, in June 2009. Now she is married, has a two-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son and works as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. She lives in Pipestone, Minn.

To continue to help young people like Harter, Catholic Charities is building a new intensive treatment cottage at the St. Cloud Children’s Home.

The new building will provide programming currently offered at Cottage 2. It will be 18,000 square feet and have additional recreational areas to better serve youth. Like Cottage 2, the new building will serve children with mental illnesses. Children stay at the cottage for six to nine months.

St. Cloud Children’s Home also has five other cottages, but Cottage 2 is the one that hosts the intensive treatment program that limits the residents’ access to the outdoors by locking doors to prevent the residents from harming themselves.

A new building is necessary to better meet the needs of today’s programs, said Steven Bresnahan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Cottage 2 was built as part of an orphanage in 1924.

Updates include all one floor, more natural light, secure materials and a more comfortable, friendly and calming design, he said.

The new building will have 16 bedrooms, a gym, dinning area, day room, offices, exercise area and classrooms. Ground broke mid-July, and work is estimated to be completed by June 2014.

Adonis Majette, Cottage 2 supervisor, says the new design will allow staff to better supervise the children because it is one floor and does not have the odd corners that Cottage 2 has.

Plus, the additional recreational areas with the gym and outdoor court area, craft area, computer room and larger classrooms will be beneficial for the children, he added.

No longer confined feeling

Harter is also excited for the new building. She said Cottage 2 was outdated and too small, making one feel stuck in a confined area. She thinks the additional recreational areas will be very helpful.

“When we were there, a lot of us had so many interests,” she said. “We like sports and reading and doing art stuff. I’m a firm believer in art. I think it’s a great outlet for emotions.”

Once completed, the new building will be able serve up to 16 residents. Currently it serves nine. Five more staff members will be added.

Plans for the future of Cottage 2 are not set yet, Bresnahan said.

Almost all bids for the new building were awarded to central Minnesota companies, he added.

The building is estimated to cost $4.6 million. It is being funded through the capital campaign, Saving Children, Saving Families, which is also raising money for Catholic Charities in general.

 

To contribute to the campaign, contact: Penny Casavant at 320-650-1642. Checks, with Capital Campaign in the memo line, can be mailed to Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 2390, St. Cloud, MN 56302.