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SWFAS to mark 20 years of service to community

By Staff | Oct 22, 2011

Southwest Florida Addiction Services will celebrate its 20th year of operation in Cape Coral with an open house on Nov. 9.

The facility, which was built with state funds, was dedicated on Nov. 10, 1991 to Outreach, Inc. another treatment program that provided services to the youth.

The facility was created by a passionate and dedicated group of folks who wanted to provide substance abuse treatment in Cape Coral because there was a lack of meaningful programs for young people, SWFAS CEO Kevin Lewis said.

When Outreach, Inc. first opened they provided a home placement treatment program where kids would go home with other patients for extended periods of time, said SWFAS Executive Assistant Michelle Sutherland.

Outreach closed its doors three years later.

They reached an agreement with SWFAS to assume their debt and take ownership of the building for treatment programs for substance use disorders.

Sutherland said when they opened, children and families could come in for an assessment at no charge and a treatment recommendation would be provided, if need be.

Lewis said they have been in the building for 17 years and have treated more than 7,000 folks. Coral has grown as a community with the choice of drugs changing over time, he added.

Those youngsters and adults have sought out services by receiving assessments and access outpatient substance abuse treatment, along with classes for anger management and violence diversion.

In addition, services also have been provided for Juvenile Drug Court participants who attend weekly counseling sessions, which is a court-ordered alternative to a detention center, as well as weekly therapy sessions for the parents.

The open house will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Nov. 9 at 1105 Cultural Park Blvd. Refreshments and guided tours will be held for those who attend, along with remarks from Keith Arnold, who was the key person to bring funding to Cape Coral, as well as Mayor John Sullivan and a spokesperson from the board.

The open house is being held to celebrate how long they have been in the city, along with providing education for the community, Lewis said, adding it is important to educate the community that the issues that created the facility still exist.

The open house is being held so the community can find out what services they have to offer in Cape Coral.

All the facilities will be open and SWFAS will have clinicians on hand to explain what they do.

“We are really proud to be a part of the Cape Coral community,” Sutherland said. “We hope to continue to serve more people.”

She encourages everyone to come out and meet them and see what they have to offer during the open house.

The facility also is a designated United Way House that provides more than a dozen full-time or part-time agencies which offer their services. Those agencies include Lee Mental Health Center, Lee County Juvenile Drug Court, Literacy Volunteers of Lee County, Children’s Advocacy Center, CCMI and its Everyday Cafe and Marketplace, Lutheran Services of Florida, NAMI, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, along with various substance abuse recovery groups.

“Cape Coral residents now can access everything from food and job searches to mental health and substance abuse counseling without leaving Cape Coral,” Lewis said in a prepared statement. “We recognize the need for more services in Lee County’s largest city, so we’ve gladly made space available in our building for other non-profits.”