Iris Place open and serving guests

NAMI Fox Valley’s new Peer Run Respite, Iris Place, which opened its doors in April in Appleton, has been welcoming guests, providing 24/7 peer support through hundreds of phone calls and is making an impact.
“I don’t know what I would have done without this place at such a crucial time of my life,” wrote one guest, following a stay this past summer. “I appreciated the staff being so comforting. This was like a sanctuary, a place for me to process, a place of hope, strength and encouragement. I felt like I could be myself, grow through my own strength and I felt like I belonged. I couldn’t have done it without this place.”
Iris Place, the state’s first peer run respite center, offers a short-term stay in a home-like environment with peer support for adults who want and need peer support to navigate a time of increased stress, emotional distress or crisis related to trauma, mental health and/or substance abuse. Iris Place’s mission is to provide a safe and welcoming environment that offers an opportunity for individuals who are experiencing emotional distress or crisis to grow and change through the support of others with lived experience.
“For so many of us, this is a dream come true,” said Karen Iverson Riggers, Iris Place director. “It has blown away all of the expectations we had, and it’s the place many of us wish we would have had during our recovery journeys.” Iris Place is open 24/7/365 and is staffed by a team of nine peer companions, including Karen, who are trained to provide peer support, connect guests to community resources, and support guests as they develop their recovery plans. All of the staff have lived experience related to mental health, substance abuse and/or trauma and have received training on using their experience to support others.
Iris Place is located at 1213 S. Matthias St. in the former convent and home to Head Start on the grounds of St. Bernadette Parish. To date, Iris Place has served 40 guests. In addition, Iris Place staff have fielded more than 400 calls from individuals looking for peer support or information about Iris Place.
“We expected to be full from the minute we opened our doors,” says Karen. “But what has surprised us the most is that the majority of work we do is peer support phone calls. The vast majority of people who call us are interested in a stay, but after 20 minutes or a half-hour talking to us, they say ‘I’m good, and knowing that you are here for me is really helpful.’” For many people, added Karen, having someone to talk to who understands their journey is very validating for them.
“We’ve had so many people thank us for listening and say it’s the first time someone has seen and acknowledged their pain,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>