Marcfirst to expand behavioral health services as part of move to new building

$500,000 in pandemic relief funds from the City of Normal will help a nonprofit agency that provides services for people with disabilities obtain a new facility and expand its programs.

Marcfirst launched an internal behavioral health program a few years ago. CEO Brian Wipperman said this is in addition to the occupational, physical and other therapies they already offer. The move allows Marcfirst to expand the behavioral health clinic, community day services, supported employment and transition to high school programs.

Wipperman said Marcfirst will sell its existing building on Hunt Drive.

“Many of the adults we already support also have mental health diagnoses, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.,” Wipperman said.

The problem was that state waiting lists went on for years for behavioral health therapy. Wipperman said having an in-house program allows Marcfirst to run billing through Medicaid, which is much faster.

“What happened very quickly doing that was we ran out of space,” Wipperman said.

The new facility will be on Jacobssen Drive northeast of Normal in the former Compeer Financial building and will be 16,000 square feet larger than Marcfirst now has in its 20,000 square foot building on Hunt Drive in Normal. Wipperman said the new location also provides the opportunity to partner with the Regional Office of Education.

“By creating and expanding our behavioral health clinic, it will allow us to provide support to Bridge Academy, which will be in-house,” Wipperman said.

The Regional Education Office will have classroom space for children who need intensive mental health support in the new Marcfirst building which adjoins Shepard Park. Wipperman said green spaces are good for Marcfirst and Bridge Academy customers.

Marcfirst is also re-partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal to create satellite offices for each agency.

“We might be able to provide each other with space — rent-free space — and support the community as a whole to remove the barrier of transportation to get to these places,” Wipperman said.

Wipperman said the partnership could be finalized in the coming months, although the timeline isn’t firm.

“I am honored to stand alongside our partners at Marcfirst, to continue to open doors of opportunity where everyone in our community has access to a place that believes in them and allows them to reach their full potential. Real and lasting change takes collaboration, big ideas and bold actions, and together we can continue to strengthen the health and well-being of our community,” said Tony Morstatter, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club.

The Bridge Academy will occupy approximately 6,000 square feet in the new building.

Marcfirst is also continuing its second expansion of its pediatric therapy services at the Gregg Chadwick Pediatric Therapy Center on the grounds of Carle BroMenn Medical Center. Marcfirst operates an annual budget of approximately $10 million and provides over 1,200 services to children and adults.

Marcfirst brought in basketball legend Doug Collins for his annual fundraising dinner Sunday night at the Doubletree in Bloomington.

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