Much-Used Counseling Center Gets New Facility

SOLDOTNA, AK (February 4, 2010) – The New Hope Counseling Center has been able to increase its services to students at Alaska Christian College and the surrounding community, thanks to a new building funded through donations and constructed largely by volunteer labor.

The counseling center has operated on campus since 2003 and provided services free of charge to students. It also provides fee-based services to people in the community.

The new facility, which is owned by the college and located on its property, held its official dedication in November, although the center began seeing clients in September. The 3,200-square-foot building includes four offices compared to only two offices previously, which had to be juggled by multiple staff members.

Executive Director Debbie Hamilton says the counseling center services are offered to the students as an “enrichment opportunity.” Many of the students come from small impoverished villages with high rates of abuse and addiction, and the center gives students a better opportunity to break the vicious cycle, she adds. About 80 percent of the students take advantage of counseling services.

A support group for students, called Celebrate Life, already has outgrown the office space and will now meet in the basement, says Hamilton.

Debbie Hamilton, executive director of New Hope Counseling Center, and Keith Hamilton, president of Alaska Christian College, cut the ribbon for the new facility.

The center also provides a variety of services to the community that are included under many employee assistance programs, and can be billed to most insurance. Individuals not covered by insurance also can obtain care.

The number of clients from the community continues to increase, says Hamilton. She notes, “We are the only faith-based counseling center on the Kenai Peninsula.”

Volunteer crews from various states began erecting the building on June 21, 2009, and completed the project in eight weeks. The school received funds from multiple donors, including a $110,000 donation from the Murdock Foundation and $35,000 from Forest Park Covenant Church in Muskegon, Michigan. The new building is named Forest Park in honor of the church, which has a long relationship with the school. The college held a dedication ceremony in November.

Keith Hamilton, the school’s president, says he is grateful for the contributions that have been made to the school by Covenanters. “Alaska Christian College has been blessed over the past nine years with incredible mission work teams that have built 11 new buildings to date, all but one built without a loan. We are amazed at the generosity of our Covenant family from the lower 49 states.”

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