Leadership made Hope Center happen | AspenTimes.com

Leadership made Hope Center happen

Dear Editor:

As an Aspen resident, I am writing to express my sincere pride in the new Aspen Hope Center. The Aspen Hope Center is a 24/7 mental health referral center and crisis hotline.

The Hope Center is a new model for community crisis intervention in mental health, alcohol and addiction, and family issues. What makes me proudest is that the community and the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, in particular, stepped up to the plate when it was confronted with the serious gap in local mental health resources.

It is well-known that Aspen has a particularly high rate of suicide. There is also a serious problem with drug and alcohol addiction in our community.

In early 2009, responding to several suicides and serious attempts that resulted in hospitalization, AVMF took immediate action. Led by Executive Director Kris Marsh, AVMF convened a number of community outreach meetings, including local fundraising efforts. Those meetings ultimately led to a community mental health needs assessment conducted by the University of Colorado-Denver Depression Center. The most important recommendation from the experts was for a central access point for people and families in need to find the right services and to get their questions answered promptly, 24/7.

This capability did not previously exist in Aspen. So many times, people say, our community is really deficient in this area or that, but that nothing can be done about it. It is easy to adopt a cynical view, because it is often so difficult to effect positive change. But, when positive change does occur, it is important for all members of the community to recognize it and value the leadership that got the job done. So, kudos to Kris and all the folks in town who worked so diligently over the past year to make the Aspen Hope Center a reality.

Aspen Hope Center’s hotline number is (970) 925-5858.

Albert J. Slap


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