DeWine cuts ribbon on residential facility


COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine joined central Ohio mental health and community leaders at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of a new residential facility in Columbus known as Melissa’s House.

The home will provide a comfortable, supportive, and secure environment for individuals facing serious mental health challenges to focus on their treatment and recovery.

“By opening Melissa’s House, we are opening the doors to what will be one of the finest residential mental health care facilities in the country,” said Governor DeWine. “It’s yet another example of our all-of-the-above approach to building a world-class system of mental health supports in Ohio. Recovery is for everyone. We are expanding a continuum of housing options, so all Ohioans – no matter their circumstance in life – have access to the care and support they need, when they need it.”

Located in Old North Columbus, Melissa’s House will offer up to 16 beds for individuals facing various mental illnesses. Staff will be on-hand 24/7 to coordinate quality treatment in a holistic, family-centered environment – creating a sense of community among residents and bringing peace of mind to residents’ family members that their loved ones are being supported in their recovery journey.

Melissa’s House is named after Melissa Goldberg. A central Ohio native, Melissa was a standout student and athlete who was known for her infectious laugh. However, during her college years, she began to struggle with serious mental illness.

With the love and support of her family, Melissa spent many years in and out of institutional settings throughout the country. But despite their best efforts, Melissa’s illness continued to become more pervasive. She died in 2006 at the age of 36.

In the years since, the Goldberg family has worked to establish a residential adult care facility that would provide a loving home for individuals facing mental health challenges who do not need medical care in an institutional setting, but who also may not be ready for independent living.

The Goldberg family was successful in raising the necessary funds to open such a facility, but over the years, they continued to run into roadblocks preventing Melissa’s House from becoming a reality.

That all changed recently. Under the leadership of Governor DeWine and his commitment to building a multifaceted system of mental health supports, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) approved a $1 million capital grant to help finance the purchase of a location for Melissa’s House.

“When we received the call to help, we didn’t hesitate. The Governor made a commitment to build the community system of care that was promised decades ago, but never fully realized. With his unwavering support, we are doing that every day,” said OhioMHAS Director LeeAnne Cornyn. “Melissa’s House represents the best of us. It’s a symbol of collaboration, determination, and compassion. Today is more than a ribbon-cutting. We are opening doors, restoring hope, and inspiring new beginnings.”

OhioMHAS’ support of the project is part of a larger public-private partnership being coordinated by Terry Russell, senior advisor at Ohio’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Ohio), and director of the Terry Russell Housing Initiative.

“Eighty percent of the people caring for those with serious mental illnesses are family members. Not only are these families often ill-equipped to deal with the symptoms and behaviors of their loved one’s illness, they also worry about what will happen to their loved one when they are no longer able to be a caregiver,” said Russell. “With the passion of the Goldberg family and support of our partners, Melissa’s House will be the answer. It will offer a home for Ohioans battling mental health challenges, allowing them to get the support they need to live a high quality of life.”

The Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Board of Franklin County has also provided assistance with the project, working with OhioMHAS and NAMI Ohio to help process the purchase of Melissa’s House.

Ohio-based nonprofit New Housing Ohio Inc. has been brought in to handle daily operations and management of Melissa’s House. They currently operate numerous homes across Ohio that serve individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

Additionally, Columbus City Council and the University Area Commission each unanimously approved zoning adjustments necessary to make Melissa’s House possible.

The result of this collaboration is a top-of-its-class adult care facility, which will provide all the modern amenities of home for residents. Each resident will have their own room and access to shared kitchen facilities, as well as other common areas.

In addition to helping with personalized treatment needs, staff will also coordinate group activities, both inside and outside of the home.

“It takes the collective buy-in of the whole community to bring an exceptional resource like this to life,” said Governor DeWine. “I congratulate everyone who has contributed to making this day possible, especially the Goldberg family, for their tireless work over many years. Through your efforts, you have ensured that Melissa’s legacy will live on through Melissa’s House – as a beacon of hope for those struggling with mental illnesses and their families.”

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