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(Left to right) Stevens County Drop-In Center director Debby Stark, volunteer Sunnie Juergens, and visitor Linda Matsler sit in front of the Drop-In Center's array of games and books for visitors to use. The Drop-In Center will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this week.

Stevens County Drop-In Center celebrates five years in the community

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Stevens County Drop-In Center celebrates five years in the community
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

MORRIS - Since the Stevens County Drop-In Center was founded five years ago, the center has helped local adults with mental illnesses connect with each other and socialize in the community.


To celebrate their five-year anniversary, the Drop-In Center at 15 East 2nd Street in Morris will be hosting an open house celebration for the community on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. with coffee, cake and conversation.

The primary goal of the Drop-In Center since it began is to help reduce social isolation for people who have mental illnesses, said director Debby Stark, who took over as the director in March after long-time director Liz Hinds retired from the position.

"A lot of people with a mental illness, they don't want to go out," explained Stark. "They sit in their apartments, they isolate, they get more depressed and a lot of times they end up hospitalized because of that."

Linda Matsler has been coming to the Drop-In Center since it opened. For Matsler, the Drop-In Center is an "uplifting place" where she can come to connect with other people.

"When you are depressed you can go to the Drop-In Center - the volunteers are friendly, and just by visiting and talking to them you feel better," Matsler said.

Today, the Drop-In Center has a core group between 50 and 60 visitors, said volunteer Sunnie Juergens.

Some only come once every few months, while others like Matsler visit several times a week and participate in the social activities and outings that Stark organizes. The Drop-In Center draws participants from Hancock, Starbuck and Grant County.

The Drop-In Center hosts a birthday party each month, and visitors can participate in trips to the movies, bowling or local restaurants regularly. Organizers also partner with the four other counties that are part of the Region IV South Mental Health Initiative - Douglas, Grant, Pope and Traverse - to organize a bigger trip to places like the Minnesota Zoo or Science Museum of Minnesota.

People interested in visiting the Drop-In Center to participate in sponsored activities can get a free ride from Morris Transit, thanks to an agreement through the Stevens County Human Service Department.

Funding from the Drop-In Center comes from Region IV South, but the Drop-In Center works closely with other social service organizations in Stevens County because the Drop-In Center is a resource for people who may be utilizing those services.

The Drop-In Center also relies on donations and support from the community. Most of the furniture and resources at the center - games, computers, the television, books and magazines - are donations.

The core services of the Drop-In Center haven't changed much since it was founded, and attendance each month has continually increased, said Stark.

The Drop-In Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Friday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information contact Debby Stark at the Drop-In Center at (320) 589-0485.

Kim Ukura
Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing. She has been recognized by the Minnesota Newspaper Association for both business and public affairs reporting.