The St. Joseph Family Center in Spokane will shutter operations in late September, the center’s executive director, Sister Pat Millen, announced earlier this month.
SJFC, a nonprofit agency sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, has provided mental health, family and marriage counseling, as well as spiritual guidance and retreats, for about 30 years. The Spokane facility began as an orphanage in 1890, and then grew into a group home for children in 1973. It was in 1987 that it evolved into a counseling and retreat center.
The official close date is Friday, Sept. 30.
The center will close due to ongoing financial and operating challenges, Millen said in an email. When asked if the center lost funding or is closing due to other influences, such as the economy or lack of donations, Millen said the center has not lost funding from a specific funder and did not expand further.
A statement released April 6 stated: “The decision to close SJFC was not arrived at lightly. For many years, the directors of the center have been challenged with how best to raise sufficient operational funds for the ministry to continue to help the population they serve. After lengthy discussion, prayer, discernment, and a lot of grieving, this decision was made.”
Millen said SJFC is developing a timeline for the closure, and soon will identify the last date they will take new clients.
“There will be a natural attrition,” she said. “Once the word is out that the center is closing and we are no longer advertising, calls for services will decrease.”
In the center’s fiscal year of 2015, they served 1,043 counseling clients, and hosted 2,769 counseling sessions, according to Millen. The Franciscan Place at SJFC, a place of healing respite offering meditation and private retreats, was open to 1,848 clients in 2015 with 3,373 total visits.
With the high volume of clients, Millen said her staff will develop a referral list that will be shared with clients and also posted to their website.
Ongoing workshops and classes at the center over the years have included help with substance abuse, weight loss, cancer, divorce, anger management, depression, anxiety and grief. Counseling services, at minimum, range from mental health to family, individual to couple and marriage to parenting help.
Those who need assistance from any of the above can still reach out to the center despite the announcement, Millen said.
“There are many stories from orphans to counseling clients to those who have attended our Cancer Survivor (and) Women Veteran retreats, to other nonprofits who have used the center space for meetings or gatherings,” Millen said.
A closing ritual and celebration for the center will be held later this summer. People, including the Sisters of St. Francis, staff, associates, volunteers and benefactors, will be invited to visit the center for one last visit.
“We realize that this kind of change can be difficult and unsettling,” the SJFC statement continued. “We ask for your prayer and support for our sisters in Spokane and for the staff at St. Joseph Family Center. The Sisters of St. Francis offer our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our sisters, associates, volunteers, and benefactors who have continued to offer high quality professional mental health services to couples, families, teens, and seniors in the Spokane area.”
Spokane born-and-raised, Lindsey Treffry works as a copy editor and page designer for The Spokesman-Review. She graduated from the University of Idaho in 2013 with a journalism degree, and now spends her weekends cooking vegan meals and walking her dog, Griffey. She returns to Spokane Faith and Values as a freelance writer, years after interning for the publication during its inception.