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Catalpa and partners bring healing to Waupaca’s youth

Lindsay Fenlon of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Maren Peterson of NAMI and Lisa Kogan-Praska of Catalpa celebrate the ribbon-cutting. Watch it on the Waupaca Information Network.

A boost to the mental health of Waupaca’s youth announced its arrival Tuesday with the grand opening of offices in the Waupaca Woods shopping center for the Appleton-based counseling provider Catalpa Health and its partners NAMI Fox Valley and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley.

Lisa Kogan-Praska, President and CEO of the five-year-old nonprofit, said Catalpa’s service to Waupaca could not have happened if it had not been selected to receive a $50,000 “Forward Together” grant from the Tim and Joy Neuville Family Fund within the Waupaca Area Community Foundation, along with other community support.

Tim and Joy Neuville.

“We offered the grant hoping to get something in the community that would make a difference,” Tim Neuville, President of Neuville Motors in Waupaca and Chairman of WACF’s Board of Directors said. Catalpa meets that goal. WACF awarded an additional $7,500 from its Waupaca Area Community Foundation Fund.

Kogan-Praska said 350 families had already been making the 40-mile trip to its Appleton and Oshkosh clinics for youth mental health services.

“We’re all thrilled to be here,” Maren Peterson, NAMI Fox Valley executive director, said. “We really are playing off one another.”

Lindsay Fenlon, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, called the combined group “one caring and compassionate staff.”

Therapist Julie Decker said the problems of Waupaca’s youth are not that different from what she saw previously in the Fox Valley. Opiate abuse may not be as bad, she said, but bullying has been a significant issue.

Peterson said the differences are more in the community’s sensibilities than in the types of challenges youth in Waupaca face.

Neuville said more large grants may be in the WACF’s future as the regional affiliate of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region seeks to make a difference in more substantial ways.

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