WILLMAR — For many women, recovery from addiction starts in Granite Falls, where Project Turnabout has offered residential treatment programs for 50 years.

Now, Willmar is where the journey to recovery continues for those needing additional support. Project Turnabout hosted a groundbreaking on Wednesday on its Willmar campus for a two-story, 16-bed women's residential outpatient center and staff office to provide expanded services to women in recovery.

The Willmar women's residential outpatient center will be constructed next to Cheri's Place, a sober house at 325 Seventh St. N.W. Since acquiring and converting the former Hulstrand house to become the sober house, Turnabout has purchased five townhouses on this city block in north Willmar.

Cheri's Place, the townhouses and the new facility will make it possible to house up to 34 women in recovery on this campus, which occupies the entire block. The site also includes the Alcove meditation space developed by Fred Cogelow from the historic Gabbert House which once stood at this site.

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One of the key supports being offered on this campus is vocational training. Women at the campus receive training so that they can obtain good-paying jobs, independence and the stability they need in their lives, according to Marti Paulson, CEO, and Mike Schiks, retiring CEO, of Project Turnabout.

Speaking at the groundbreaking, they pointed out that many women in recovery need support to continue on the right path.

”We know that that stigma associated with addiction cuts especially hard against women in this society. The shame, the guilt, the wonder what comes next,” said Schiks, speaking at the groundbreaking.

“We can do a great job helping people get weaned off their drugs and alcohol in Granite. How do you dig people out of the hole they have dug themselves in their jobs, in their lives?”

What he and Paulson described as medium-intensity treatment and support will help women stay on the path to successful recovery.

It’s all being made possible thanks to support from the Willmar community, they emphasized. Ridgewater College, Kandiyohi County, and Carris Health all have played important roles in helping Project Turnabout expand its services in Willmar.

Overall, the new facility is part of an estimated $5 million to $6 million investment being made by the nonprofit treatment center in Willmar. The development just north of the BNSF tracks in north Willmar is one of the larger economic development ventures for this area of the community in a number of years, according to Duaine Amundson, Project Turnabout board chair.

It was his spouse, Ann Amundson, who had noticed that the Hulstrand house was for sale more than six years ago and proposed the idea of a sober house in Willmar.

After purchasing the home, Turnabout strategically acquired the remainder of the block in stages, said Amundson. Board members voted unanimously earlier this year to move forward with this latest expansion.

“As a board we have carefully evaluated the risks of building and expanding during this pandemic. And, we weighed that against the tremendous need for an opportunity to provide hope for women in need,” he said.

The decision to move forward despite the pandemic is very much in keeping with the spirit that launched Project Turnabout 50 years ago, said Schiks. At that time, there was little in the way of financial support for the costs of treatment. Caring people saw the value and worth of those struggling with the disease of addiction, and knew they deserved a chance, he said.

Paulson said the new facility should be ready for occupancy in late August or early September 2021. With its opening, the Willmar campus is expected to include a staff of 13 to 15.

Residents will come from throughout Minnesota and beyond. Project Turnabout has assisted people from 84 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, as well as people from 21 other states and four countries in the past year alone, Paulson told the West Central Tribune. It operates a 131-bed residential facility in Granite Falls and has outpatient services in Willmar, Marshall and Redwood Falls.

Engan and Associates, Willmar, and TerWisscha Construction, Willmar, are the project architects and contractor.