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Other Voices: Support Spirit Center at Friday festival

All of us want to feel whole, healthy and empowered. At times, we lose our connection to this feeling. We allow our life circumstances or a current crisis to pull us out of our natural state of well-being. In times like these, things can spiral downward very quickly, and soon we need a place of respite and recovery.

The mental health of our community matters. Fortunately for those of us who live in Grass Valley and Nevada City, there is a place for such recovery and reconnecting with our inner wisdom. A place to discover healing of mind, body and spirit. Anyone searching for empowerment will find support at the Spirit Peer Empowerment Center. It is a place of unconditional acceptance and love for humanity.

In a safe, home-like setting (a large house on several acres) they offer services to those wishing to discover their “passion, purpose and place in the community.” It is through interaction with each other and mutual support that the magic of recovery happens.



On any day, you can attend one of several groups such as the dual diagnosis group, “let’s rap” group, or a grief support group. They also work to improve mental health services in our community through advocacy and education. In the brochure it states “we aim to reduce personal suffering and increase success in life.”

Peer counselors and group facilitators awaken self esteem and feelings of self worth. They assist in raising one’s awareness of the healing power of the mind and spirit. Peers are those who have faced their own issues and are now helping others in the struggle for wellness. Peers support each other in reaching the goals they have chosen. The model is an adjunct to the services already provided in the community for people with mental illness. It is an approach that has been used for many years with great results.




A sense of acceptance, belonging and support are noticeable when you enter the Spirit Center house. The approach is compassionate and informal. In no way do you feel as if you are in a clinical setting or a patient in a facility. In fact, you feel “at home” and safe.

When I first came to the Spirit Center about a year ago I felt the warmth and caring immediately. I am currently volunteering and taking classes to become a peer counselor. My experience has been one of constant awe and gratitude for what goes on at Spirit Center. I have witnessed an outpouring of loving kindness and concern for the mental health community as a whole. I have seen how they care about each other and take care of each other. To put it concisely, you come to see that you matter.

Mental health has many aspects and may mean something different to each of us. Today it is easy to label someone who doesn’t fit into our perceived idea of mental wellness. Peer counselors seek to empower those who may have been labeled or stigmatized. Earlier this year, the Spirit Center organized a march called “Stomp out Stigma” to educate the public about mental health issues.

It has often been a painful journey for those stigmatized to reach the door of Spirit Center. The good news is that when they enter this door another kind of journey begins … one to wholeness, empowerment and well-being.

You can support the Spirit Center by attending the annual fundraising event called Spirit Fest V. It happens Friday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Miners Foundry. Dinner, music and a raffle are included.

Nancy Chase lives in Grass Valley. She is a registered nurse and health realization instructor, and currently volunteers for the Spirit Center.


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