It was a busy summer for Keith Hamilton and his crew at Alaskan Christian College (ACC). When it was finished, they all shared a great sense of accomplishment as they unveiled the official dedication of their nearly 3,200 square foot New Hope Counseling Center last month. "We are still amazed. It was June 21st when our first work team showed up on campus from the lower 48, and for the next eight weeks we had successive work crews come. We were able to complete from ground up, this brand new two story counseling center that is now available both for the students of ACC, and the community, for personal counseling. It has been just an amazing gift to us," said Hamilton. According to Hamilton, prior to the opening of the new center, ACC only had two small offices and a couple of counselors available for the eighty percent of their student population who voluntarily participated in counseling. "Now we have five offices and are able to welcome community members to our counseling services as well," he said.
Debbie Hamilton, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor and is the executive director of the faith-based New Hope Counseling Center. "We are the only faith-based counseling center on the Kenai Peninsula, and we have two divisions here. We provide free counseling to the students of ACC and now we offer professional counseling services to the community of the Kenai Peninsula," Debbie told the Dispatch. She says while the counseling is often centered on offering career and advanced education counseling, many of their students come from environments of extreme trauma and abuse through alcoholism and substance abuse. "Unfortunately that becomes very generational and repeats itself. What we offer is the opportunity to heal that pattern, and gain new resources and life skills in their lives, so they don't repeat those generational patterns of abuse which they've come from," Hamilton explained.
New Hope Counseling services are included under many employee assistance programs, and are able to bill most insurance, and for those not covered with insurance, they can provide individual payment rates. "We seek to bring restoration and freedom to individuals dealing with issues such as addiction, anxiety, depression, sexual and physical abuse, eating disorders, transitions or substance abuse and encourage people not to wait until they are in crisis to seek assistance. One of things that makes us unique with our students, is that we present our counseling services as an enrichment opportunity that they can start as of day one with their educational process. We would encourage people in the community as well, that before their marriage is crumbling and facing divorce, that they would consider coming in and letting us help them build communication skills to strengthen your marriage before it reaches crisis. Or when you first start feeling the pains of depression, before you reach a level of despair, to come in and talk with us as well," said Hamilton.
Major donors for the New Hope Counseling Center came from personal donors in the Washington area as well as churches such as the Forest Park Covenant Church in Muskegon, Michigan. Hamilton noted that donations came from "People who believe that these students need an extra leg up, and as well as meeting the needs of the whole peninsula by providing a faith-based counseling center for the community." For more information the Hamilton's invite the public to visit the new center at the ACC campus near the KPC Kenai River campus off Poppy Lane, or call 260-7423 for an appointment. Information is also available at www.nhccak.org.
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