Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mother who lost son to suicide helps open new mental health clinic in Bennington

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BENNINGTON, Neb. (WOWT) – Next door to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bennington sits the Lutheran Lighthouse Coffee Shoppe, the multi-use space provided by the church, which is home to a fitness group and hosts AA meetings.

Now, the building as another tenant: The Link at Bennington.

“This is the first of many free walk-in clinics that are provided for people that need it at any level,” said Debbie Bremer.

The Link was created to provide mental health services and counseling for people who need help. Debbie grew The Link through the Christopher Bremer Foundation — a nonprofit she started after she lost her son, Christopher, who was only 30 years old.

“He had went for help,” Debbie said. “That morning, he woke up and told his girlfriend, ‘I don’t think I should be here, ‘I’m struggling.’ She took him for help. Later that night when they came back home, he took his life.”

Debbie says Christopher’s death came as a shock to their entire family. Her son did reach out for help off and on, but seemed to have things together. He was loved by his family and owned a successful business, Debbie said.

The Link will operate out of the coffee shop. Trained counselors will work there to help those having trouble dealing with the day-to-day struggles of life.

“We need to do something to reach out to those how struggle in the same way as Christopher or have a mental illness of some sort,” Debbie said.

“It took us a couple of years to get to be a nonprofit and this all has been going for a couple of years, working with the church and the Bennington Coalition.”

Heather Goertz is with the Bennington Coalition, formed seven years ago when a group of parents were concerned about the welfare of their children.

“So we started having a conversation about behavioral health and what that meant,” Goertz said.

The two groups working together will provide walk-in help to anyone without insurance. They say it’s a start and a help, especially after looking over the Justice Department’s report that accused Nebraska of being in violation of the civil rights belonging to those with serious mental illnesses.

“Knowing that my son went for help and went home and was not given the tools that he needed, [the report] did not shock me,” Debbie said. “It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Knowing that whenever people go to jail, that’s where they’re expected to get their help. It’s not a good thing.”

Heather says the government can only do so much. She believes people need to rise up and get things done.

“When I think people, I think about the foundations that are nonprofit, and I also think about the small businesses and the entrepreneurs, like those people who have a heart for service and that can also provide the funding to help the people in need,” Goertz said.

“What we hope to say here though The Link is that, you are not alone, but there are people there that share your story and there are people that want to help.”

The foundation hopes to grow The Link to communities across the Omaha metro. The Link at Bennington will have its official grand opening Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., and then will be open every Wednesday following from 4 to 7 p.m.

Anyone who’d like to donate to the Christopher Bremer Foundation can click here.

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