The Pilsen Wellness Center, a non-profit community healthcare organization operating 14 clinics across Chicago and its suburbs, is opening its newest location at the former Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and adjacent properties in the heart of Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood.
Wellness center executives detailed the center’s services and answered questions about their new location at 3528 S. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, during the March 1, 2023, meeting of the McKinley Park Civic Association.
“We’re here to build community,” said Paul Naranjo, division director for Pilsen Wellness Center. “We’re not just using a building.”
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Narajno outlined the anticipated use for the center, which begins operations on April 3, 2023. Substance abuse prevention services, counseling for individuals, groups and families, and crisis intervention and psychiatric care were some of the core services on offer, Naranjo said.
“No methadone — only substance use prevention” will be offered at the McKinley Park location, Naranjo said.
Needs Major Renovation
Church properties purchased by the center include the former Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, parking lots on either side of South Hermitage Avenue and the distinctive mid-Century modern circular building at the northwest corner of West 36th Street and South Hermitage Avenue.
“This needs major renovation,” Dr. Francisco Cisneros, president and CEO of the Pilsen Wellness Center, said of the circular building. They will try to keep it, he said, and they don’t plan significant changes to other buildings.
At a price of around $1.5 million, the Pilsen Wellness Center was the winning bidder for the properties, Cisneros said. They won against other bidders in part because of the value the Archdiocese of Chicago saw the center bringing to the former church properties, he said.
Services at the center will be rolled out in stages, said Dr. Pablo Mercado, program supervisor in charge of outpatient behavioral health services at the McKinley Park location.
Teen Reach Program
This will begin with mental health counseling, Cisneros said, using the rectory space first, then expanding to more areas of the property as they are rehabilitated.
Naranjo highlighted the Pilsen Wellness Center’s Teen Reach initiative, which is a summertime program for ages 11 to 17 providing “a safe space for teens,” he said. Other youth services include youth mentoring and substance abuse prevention studies and workshops, he said.
Close To People
Cisneros said there’s a great need for the mental health and counseling services the Pilsen Wellness Center provides. “We have a huge waiting list,” he said.
The new location is a great fit for both the Pilsen Wellness Center and the McKinley Park neighborhood, Cisneros said.
“We try to be close to where people live,” he said.