$1m state grant supports behavioral wellness center

As Philadelphia continues to grapple with its ongoing opioid epidemic, state Sen. Sharif Street and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta announced that they have secured $1 million in state funding to aid the efforts of The Behavioral Wellness Center at Girard (Be Well Center).

Government officials, public health specialists and community members gathered at The Be Well Center to celebrate Street and Kenyatta as they presented the Center with the RACP grant, which Kenyatta said he hopes can “help to expand the scope of services and the reach that (the Center will) have in helping our communities actually be well, be prosperous and be on a path where people can feel good.”

According to a news release, the grant is intending to go towards “multiple renovation and service projects including the expansion of the acute psychiatric unit, an outdoor recreation space for in-patient units, an automatic sprinkler system, transport vehicles and employee safety devices.”

“I am proud to secure these funds for The Behavioral Wellness Center at Girard so that they can continue to provide an outstanding level of service to our communities that are struggling with the opioid crisis,” Street said. “As public officials, it is perhaps our greatest responsibility to ensure that our citizens and communities have the tools necessary to ensure safety and to provide the highest quality of public health.”

The Be Well Center is a drug and alcohol treatment center that offers “substance use disorder, inpatient psychiatric, outpatient drug and alcohol treatment services, a withdrawal management/induction unit and a mobile services unit.”

RACP funding comes from the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget and is reserved for projects that have “a cultural, civic, historical, regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases in employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity,” according to a statement from the office.

Kenyatta said this state investment is especially important to him because when he was first running for office his focus included dealing with the substance abuse and mental health crises. Now it is these two issues that he said the grant money will directly support.

“The mental illness and substance abuse disorder crisis has a devastating impact upon communities, contributing to violence, crime and housing insecurity,” said Kenyatta. “Given the enormity of this crisis, this grant will support the center’s programs and facilities that will go directly to individuals and families in need.” 

From The Philadelphia Tribune
Photo: Susan Wilkinson