Lighthousecenter now open

Published on Thu, Dec 14, 2006 by Jack Kintner

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Lighthouse center now open

By Jack Kintner

Joyce Bigelow opened her addiction recovery and substance abuse treatment center November 21, the day she received state certification.
“I wanted to make sure I got that!” she laughed, tapping the brand new certificate for emphasis.

Bigelow is the kind of person who likes to cross the t’s and dot the i’s, a habit developed from a lifetime in health care beginning with service with Canadian Air Force as a nurse during the Korean War.
She is currently enrolled in a counseling and psychology bachelor’s of science program at Northwest Indian College. The newly certified program is the first at the school to offer four-year degree. With previous one she will graduate in 2007.

The certificate is from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse and allows her facility to offer court-ordered chemical dependency treatment services. Specifically, she will work with drivers convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in operating an eight-hour alcohol/drug information school (ADIS) as well as intensive and regular outpatient care and court-ordered and private DUI assessments.
“It’s important to have a facility like this that people can get to,” she said, “because the only other option is to travel to Bellingham, something that can tempt people to violate the conditions of the court’s decision.”

Bigelow is state certified as a chemical dependency professional and a counselor. In addition to alcohol and drug counseling she also works with problems arising out of domestic violence, anger management issues, sexual abuse, self-esteem, and suicide and post-suicide grief counseling and related family issues.

“Drop-ins are welcome,” Bigelow said, “if you just want to see what we offer or if you want to participate in one of our groups or want individual counseling.”

The facility offers treatment on a sliding scale based on patient income, as well as space for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting five days a week from noon to 1 p.m.

She and her husband Calvin, a mining engineer, moved to Blaine in June.

“His career took us all over the place,” said the Kirkland Lake, Ontario, native. She said that she and her husband “raised our five boys and two girls on the road, and it worked out OK.”

While Bigelow may appear to be a kindly grandmotherly type, underneath can be as tough as she needs to be.

She was motivated to open her facility in part from having lost one son to alcohol problems.

“We raised his two kids,” she said, “which was fine, and they turned out so well, but my interest in this field comes from ‘been there, done that kinds of experiences.’”

She hired Chris Hobart earlier this week as her receptionist and office manager, and is looking for a second state-certified chemical dependency counselor to help take up the demand she expects.

“We’ll be able to offer the ADIS in the evenings,” she explained. She also is hoping to get interns from both Northwest Indian College and Bellingham Technical college.

She met earlier this week with representatives of various agencies such as probation officers from the sheriff’s department, court representatives and Blaine municipal judge Michael Bobbink.

“Once they know what we offer we expect to begin seeing people right away,” Bigelow said.

The facility is smoke-free and currently is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

They are located at 374 H Street but the entrance is actually off the alley that runs next to the Blaine Skateboard Park.

Patrons are asked to park in open spaces away from the building. For more information call 543-9061.