No one need be alone in Lostine

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer December 27, 2013 08:56 am

Weekly Stone Soup Drop-In Center open to people suffering from mental illness, addiction struggles

LOSTINE — In the legend of Stone Soup the villagers learn that the sum is greater than the parts. 

At the Stone Soup Drop-In Center in Lostine this message is taken both literally and metaphorically.

The Lostine Community Center is the former manse, or minister’s home, attached to the Lostine Presbyterian Church. Members of the parish have transformed the home into a multi-use facility including a commercial kitchen and temporary lodging.

And one day a week it is set aside for people suffering from mental illness, addiction and those in need of community.

Organizer Vicki Crane said, “The Stone Soup Drop-In Center provides a safe supportive social environment for people with serious mental illnesses and working through recovery.”

The Center runs under the nonprofit status granted the church. Grants helped get it up and running a little over a year ago, and participants vary from three to as many as 28 in a day, said Crane.

The Center, she said, is a warm and friendly place to drop in, meet other people and participate in social, educational and life skills activities.

Participants can take part in social activities, seek help for recovery through 12 step programs available at the Center – AA meets Mondays at noon and a codependence group meets Wednesdays at noon.

Crane said the Center offers mental health-related seminars and life skills training such as money management, health and hygiene, culinary arts, organization, housekeeping, healthy lifestyles and Wellness Recovery Action Plan, said Crane. 

Center volunteer staff are people in recovery, which makes them especially sensitive to the needs of the clients. This safe environment helps people learn about recovery, have access to resources and to develop self esteem.

Crane said she is promoting the program at church, encouraing more people to participate.

“More church members are coming in to visit,” she said. Several women are widowed and have grief issues, other are in recovery or going through a rough time and others are there to support and interact.”

There are board games, craft projects, and those who are musicians can play the organ, piano or guitar or recite poetry.

“I try and keep it as unstructured as possible,” Crane said.

Members of the community donated food from their gardens and the participants bring items for a meal they have in mind to make.

With the donations over the summer, Crane said she didn’t have to dip into her food budget until recently, but now donations are down. She said the Center is also in need of arts and crafts materials for projects and a sewing group will start after the first of the year.

Crane said the Center has a respite room for those who need a night’s stay. There is a shower and a kitchen for guests use as well as a laundry facility.

“We had a veteran stay there for six weeks until he could get back on his feet,” she said.

The Center hosts socials and parties, consumer speakers, has a referral bank for mental health services, computer access and training, self- employment opportunities through learned skills and guest speakers and workshops.

It also offers a Back to Basics seminar on life skills and 13 recovering individuals and professionals studied and completed the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in just three days, said Crane.

Multiple connections with veterans have been made, and this coming year a grant will assist in identifying their need for supports and create new program revolving around their specific issues.

The continued Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and Codependence Anonymous meetings throughout the week aid in recovery for all Wallowa County residents seeking recovery from these issues.

Steve Kliewer, the Presbyterian Church’s minister, said the church continues to find ways to meet the needs of the community.

“During the economic downturn a lot of people were struggling to make ends meet and older people who lost spouses are now alone. M. Crow’s threatened to close and the Lostine Tavern has been closed for a year, so we just started thinking about how to bring people together,” said Kliewer.

He said the church, built in the late 1800s, is a visible part of Lostine. 

“People wanted the church to be involved with the town — not just a community of faith that did its thing on Sunday morning and didn’t impact community in any other way.”

He said the parishioners started thinking of ways to have an impact on the community. The community center came up as a place for people to gather, particularly for those with no place to go that was close by.

“We got the commercial kitchen going and then we thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a broader time for people to come,’ and it kind of evolved from there,” said Kliewer. “All evidence-based practices of grief, anxiety and depression depression say for people to be able to get out of their houses connect and talk is important.”

Stone Soup Tuesday is held at the Lostine Community Center, 138 Highway 82 in Lostine every Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

 

STONE SOUP

• TUESDAYS

• 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• LOSTINE COMMUNITY CENTER,  138 Highway 82