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A rendering shows the expected outside appearance of the front of the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence after the current renovations on the former Channel 5 building are complete.
Courtesy of Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence

Wide range of veteran services/programs to be offered at 'campus' being built off Moreno Street

In the midst of the ongoing renovation work inside the building at 530 Communication Circle, Bob McLaughlin (right), director of the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence, is joined by Randy Gradishar, former Denver Bronco and part of the center management team, in displaying various renderings of the future campus.
Westside Pioneer photo
       A “one-stop center” to help the region's military veterans transition back to civilian life is being created inside the former Channel 5 building at 530 Communication Circle, 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,
A rendering shows how the main entryway of the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence will look after renovations are complete.
Courtesy of Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence
not just buildings,” said Gina Cimino, Mt. Carmel's president. “There are lots of services for veterans in the region now, but with the Center of Excellence we're connecting them, so people can go there and solve all their issues.”
       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
In the now-empty field at the northeast corner of Moreno Street and Communications Circle, the Center of Excellence has posted a sign with a rendering showing the facade of the new urgent-care and wellness center that's proposed for the site. The partially visible, reddish building in the background is the former Channel 5 building that's being renovated for the center's main facility. The lighter building at far right is a separately owned apartment building.
Westside Pioneer photo
assess their current needs and define a plan to meet the need. They may be referred to participate in one of the programs we offer, meet with a counselor, or refer them to the appropriate organization for service. Regardless of the next step in receiving service, our navigators will put every effort forward to ensure that their appointments are made, applications are filled out and that there is follow-up to ensure that they have received the support they deserve.”
       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.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 7/23/15; Land Construction)

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