Wide range of veteran services/programs to be offered at 'campus' being built off Moreno Street
Funded through various grants and private donations, the two-story, 16,000-square-foot Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence is on track to open later this summer, possibly as soon as August.
Services/programs will include individualized support in finding employment or starting a business, adapting socially and developing/ maintaining spiritual as well as physical health.
Additionally, on a vacant lot just a few hundred feet away, the Mt. Carmel organizers intend to construct a new urgent care and wellness center, focused on veterans. Plans for the 7,500-square-foot, single-story facility at the corner of Communication Circle and Moreno were recently submitted to City Land Use Review. Plan drawings include a walkway that would connect to the building-renovation property, part of which is directly across Communication Circle from the vacant site.
“When we're finished, it [the Communications Circle properties] will be a campus,
The campus plan stems from the vision of her parents, Jay and Emily Cimino, long-time area businesspeople and philanthropists.
Jay is the president and CEO of the Phil Long Family of Dealerships.
Mt. Carmel got its start in Trinidad, Colorado, where both Jay and Emily grew up. They established a health, wellness and community center/clinic after renovating an old church there about four years ago.
Pleased with how that effort turned out, the Ciminos developed the idea of establishing a Mt. Carmel in Colorado Springs that would provide needed resources for the area's considerable veteran population. “This area has three military bases, and we will service all of them,” Gina Cimino said.
To lead that effort a year ago, the Ciminos brought in Bob McLaughlin, a retired colonel and former garrison commander of Fort Carson. “One-stop center” was a term he used while leading a recent hardhat tour of the Communications Circle building renovation project. “That's been a missing part of the equation,” he said. “There has been no single place for veterans to go.”
True, he added, the federal VA Clinic, opened in the past year on Fillmore Hill, handles veterans' physical and benefit issues, but the Center of Excellence is intended to be “more holistic - a home away from home” for those who've served in the nation's military, treating the needs of “mind, body and soul.”
The tour illustrated how the two-story building is being gutted and rebuilt by a local contractor to assign the space as needed to fulfill the vision. An information sheet summarizes what veterans going there can expect: “Mt. Carmel will be open five days a week, and our trained greeters will welcome all veterans and their families into the 'beacon of support.' Our Peer Navigators will meet with each veteran individually to
A number of the offerings will involve partnering with existing entities, such as the Small Business Development Center, the mililtary bases and the Pikes Peak Workforce Center.
Another partnership will be with the new homeless center in the south downtown area to reach out to veterans who have found themselves on the streets, McLaughlin said.
Other collaborative opportunities are being sought. “We believe partnerships are critical to serving our veterans and invite you to participate with us at the Center of Excellence,” the information sheet reads.
The building's outside will also be a focus, though part of a later phase. Including a tribute to all five military services, a “warriors' garden” with landscaped walkways will be laid out in front and wrap around the north side of the building. Depending on fundraising efforts, McLaughlin said he hopes the garden can be in place by next spring.
Mt. Carmel provides a number of services and programs now, in a temporary location in northeast Colorado Springs (1540 Auto Mall Loop). For more information, call 575-7059.
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