APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Imagine if a single flight of stairs was preventing you from getting the life-changing help you needed.
Unfortunately, that’s a reality for some people who are trying to access the services at The Genesis Club in Appleton. The organization provides support services for people battling addiction.
“The ironic thing is that we walk through the door and think that nobody has my problems and you listen to people talk and you know what we all have the same problems,” said Len H. who is one of Genesis Club’s clients who also mentors younger people who go through the program. “I’m just happier, I’ve got support I can come in here with any problem and sit and talk with somebody.”
Len said he’s also a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He said he has bad knees so accessing the services at the Genesis Club can be difficult. The building has a staircase to get in the front door. There’s a wheelchair ramp in the back, but clients said in the winter it becomes inaccessible because of all the snow and ice.
The Genesis Club serves people from all walks of life, but officials with the organization said that they do serve a lot of disabled veterans.
“A guy walked up those steps, he has one hand on the railing, he’s a heavy guy, had a crutch and he’s literally struggling to get up the steps,” recalled Len.
“Steps are literally holding you back from changing your life, I’ve seen people have to drive away and it kills me,” said Johnathan Stavast who is one of the Genesis Club’s Board of Directors. “This place literally saves people’s lives. We have members where if they can’t come in here they wouldn’t be alive.”
Stravast said he also battled alcohol addiction. He said he got to a point in his life when he realized he was drinking too much and said the support and help he got at Genesis Cub was life changing. He said his life has improved dramatically as has his relationships with his loved ones.
“When I came here, life got a ton better and that started immediately,” said Stravast.
He said he played college football and eventually had to get a hip replacement. He said trying to get up the steps at the Genesis Club when he wasn’t able to walk very well was extremely difficult.
“The pain of the hip replacement was nothing compared to the pain of not being able to come here because I didn’t have a way in,” said Stravast.
Genesis Club board members have started a fundraiser for a new elevator lift to help anybody who has mobility issues be able to get inside the Genesis Club. The organization has set up a GoFundMe that can be accessed here and are trying to raise $140,000.
They are also hosting a 5k fun run on Oct. 7 at Memorial Park in Appleton. A link to the organization’s website can be found here.
“We’re helping disabled veterans, disabled community members, and we’re helping people with mental health issues, if you can’t support that what can you support,” said Stravast. “They’re (all of the clients here) risking their lives every time they can’t come to a meeting. If I couldn’t come to these meetings I don’t know how longer I would have had or what my future would have looked like.”
“It’s a very heartwarming, loving place to be,” said Len. “It’s like a family here.”