A sign on the wall at Marion First Church of the Nazarene (Marion Naz) says the downtown congregation is “a church in the heart of the city with a heart for the city.”
Spend a couple of minutes with Senior Pastor the Rev. Steve Estep and you quickly realize that’s much more than just a catchphrase or marketing tool. His deep, intensely personal desire to serve the community through a broad range of ministries has resulted in the church’s latest venture called Hope for Health Counseling and Clinic.
Still in its fledgling stages, the clinic on the downtown campus of Marion Naz, located at 233 W. Church St., offers counseling services for individuals suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues.
“The mission of Hope for Health is to provide holistic health services − mental health, counseling, health care, and social services − in a Christ-centered environment to the underserved population of Marion and surrounding communities,” Estep said. “In a lot of ways it will complement the great things that are already happening. We have some great Christian counselors in Marion, but there’s more need than there are resources. We’re not trying to replace anybody, it’s not a competition, we just see this as another layer of assistance to an underserved population.
“One of the things that makes it unique is that it is unapologetically Christ-centered. Our folks that come in (for counseling), unless they just say, ‘No, we don’t want that,’ everybody will be prayed for.”
For the past seven years, Marion Naz has been offering Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program that meets each Thursday on the church campus. That ministry serves more than 200 people weekly.
Estep said prayers and planning for Hope for Health started in August of 2021, when he “shared the vision for a Christ-centered mental health/counseling clinic with the congregation of Marion Naz,” which in turn spurred further discussions and then significant action on the topic.
“Dr. Roxanne Oliver was in attendance that day and immediately offered her assistance to help develop and implement the plan for Hope for Health,” Estep said. “We subsequently began to recruit a board of directors and research what would be needed for this vision to become a reality. In January 2022, we had our first board of directors meeting, began the process of securing 501c3 status, and recruiting potential providers. Immediately after our inaugural meeting, board member Vaughn Sizemore connected us with Columbus attorney Rick Bruner. He offered to help us pro bono and by April of 2022 we were officially a 501c3 organization.”
Local consultant Theresa Lubke, former executive director of the Marion Family YMCA, has been assisting the board of directors in the development of short- and long-range goals and submitted a grant application to the Hillman Foundation on behalf of Hope for Health. She is also helping the board of directors research other grant opportunities, Estep said.
Thus far, the congregation of Marion Naz has donated $10,000 to get the project started. The Marion Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to the counseling center. Most recently, United Way of North Central Ohio awarded a $5,000 grant to Hope for Health. United Way Executive Director Amber Wertman presented the check to Estep last Wednesday during a brief ceremony at the church.
“There’s just an awful lot of need (for counseling services in Marion County) and not enough resources,” Wertman said. “(Hope for Health) putting your time, efforts, and talents into this means a lot for the community. (United Way) wants to help in any way we can. (The $5,000 grant) is an initial investment, but I’m sure as the need grows and people discover that it’s a great resource, I think it’ll be prosperous and helpful to the community.”
Estep said the financial donations have allowed Hope for Health to set up offices, buy equipment, purchase a security system, hire a part-time biller/credentialing specialist, and subscribe to an EMR (electronic medical records) provider.
“There is great synergy being created by these friends in our community who are happy that Hope for Health is joining the effort to address the mental health needs that are so prevalent in Marion,” Estep said. “We have been encouraged by other local counselors, including the Dan Ward Counseling Group, who are doing great work for the people of Marion, but know first-hand the gap between the need for Christ-centered mental health services, and the resources available to meet that need. We are excited about helping meet these needs in our community and seeing individuals, couples, and families find hope and help in the name of Jesus.”
Denise Thiel and Vanessa Jones run the day-to-day operations of the clinic. Thiel serves as acting director of operations and Jones is the administrative assistant.
Counseling team members include Brandi Spaulding, Ph.D., LICDC, who specializes in individual, couple, and family therapy, and addiction counseling; Murphy Stansberry, a certified substance abuse counselor; Kim Turner, LISW-S, Cornerstone of Hope Grief Support, a certified EMDR therapist, with years of experience providing care and crisis intervention to diverse populations; Warren Hastings, facilitator, Cornerstone of Hope Grief Support; and Dave and Cindy Gossard, facilitators for the PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) Support Group.
Hope for Health is currently open each Wednesday from 1 to 8 p.m. Spaulding is available to provide counseling sessions each week. Stamsberry is currently available to provide substance abuse counseling one Wednesday each month. The Gossards are facilitating the PAL Support Group and Turner is facilitating the grief support group.
Estep said the board of directors hopes to capitalize on the current momentum of Hope for Health with the goal of building a larger base of providers and partners for the clinic.
“We are striving to create a well rounded learning environment for future providers,” Estep said. “We are currently looking into partnerships with local colleges and technical schools to see how students can be integrated within the clinic.”
For information about Hope for Health Counseling and Clinic, call 567-213-5090, or email [email protected]. Information is also available on the website hopeforhealthmarion.org and the Hope for Health Counseling and Clinic Facebook page.
Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @AndrewACCarter