By Jason Burger, Assistant News Editor
A $200,000 new grant was given to the Marriage and Family Therapy department at Oklahoma Baptist University to further benefit the college and the city of Shawnee.
The grant was given by the Pottawattamie County-based Avedis Foundation, which is a private group that is dedicated to, “…improving the health, wellness, and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomi County and its surrounding communities.”
The grant is allowing the OBU Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program to extend its facilities and services to the old Pizza Hut building located south of campus on Kickapoo Street.
Dr. Canaan Crane, Associate professor of Psychology and Director of the Marriage and Family Graduate Program, said he was pleased with the grant and the new direction the program could take.
“When the Pizza Hut went out of business, OBU was able to acquire that location and we were talking about some of the options that it might be used for,” Crane said. “Of course, lots of ideas were on the table, so we approached the Avedis Foundation for funding, to remodel the space so that it could be used as an actual counseling center.”
Crane not only sought out the grant to give the Marriage and Family Therapy department more real-estate, but to also begin outreach into the city of Shawnee and the surrounding areas.
“In the last year or two, we have become the main provider of counseling services to OBU students, faculty, and staff,” Crane said.
“One of the dreams is that we would continue to expand those offerings to the OBU community, and also have the opportunity to provide services to the local Shawnee community, and the Pottawatomie county local area,” he said.
Dr. Crane said the counseling services provided at the new center would include a sliding fee scale.
“The fee that you [the client] pay is based on the amount of income that you have,” Crane said.
This sliding fee scale makes the services attainable for low-income families.
“If someone cannot afford, for example, $150 a session, then they will have substantially lower rates.”
Although the new location and vision of the Marriage and Family Therapy program aims to better the Shawnee community, it also looks to enhance the experience of students enrolled in the graduate program.
“Part of their training [as graduate students] is the actual provision of service, under supervision,” Crane said. “We are able to maximize the benefit for the community so that they get the benefit of our graduate students as they are training.”
Kelsey Linsenmeyer, a graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program said she is excited for this opportunity to give back to the community.
“Shawnee has influenced me and helped me grow in so many ways,” she said. “I think it’s important for me to do my part in giving back to that. I look forward to working with those who live here.”
With the finalization of the details of the new plans for his department, Crane said that the Avedis foundation is very serious about funding this opportunity.
“This is a way for Oklahoma Baptist University to improve the quality of life and health in our community,” Crane said. “That’s really the dream.”