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Abbott House transitional facility for girls opens in northern Mitchell

The Vyas Family Bridges Home, a transitional facility for girls run by Abbott House, is located at 1808 N. Minnesota Ave. near the Highway 37 bypass in Mitchell. The 3,500-square-foot, seven-bedroom Bridges Home was completed this month at a cost of approximately $450,000. (Chris Mueller/Republic) 1 / 2
Attendees at an event Tuesday celebrating the completion of Abbott House’s Vyas Family Bridges Home, a transitional facility for girls, tour the finished home located at 1808 N. Minnesota Ave. near the Highway 37 bypass in Mitchell. The Bridges Home is meant as a place for girls ages 12 to 18 who have completed treatment at Abbott House’s main facility but have nowhere else to go. (Chris Mueller/Republic) 2 / 2

For six girls from the Abbott House, a new house in northern Mitchell will soon be home.

On Tuesday, the Abbott House, a residential treatment home for girls, celebrated the completion of its Vyas Family Bridges Home, a transitional facility for girls who have completed their treatment at the Abbott House’s main facility but have nowhere else to go. About 125 people attended an event at the Bridges Home celebrating its completion. Read more about Abbott House supporters honored at the celebration.

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“They’re kids that, for the most part, are not adoptable or have no place to go when they finish their program at the Abbott House,” said Virginia Wishard Lambert, Abbott House’s director of development. “The whole reason for this home is to give them a home to go to.”

The Bridges Home, a 3,500-square-foot, seven-bedroom house located at 1808 N. Minnesota Ave. near the Highway 37 bypass, was completed this month. Its first six residents, girls between the ages of 12 and 18, are expected to move in Friday.

“They just can’t wait to have a family of their own, and a room of their own,” Lambert said.

Marty and Gary Johnson, a married couple who have worked with Abbott House in the past, will live primarily at the Bridges Home and serve as foster parents for the girls living in the facility. Their reason for taking on the task was simple.

“There is a need,” Gary Johnson said in an interview with The Daily Republic at the event. “There is a desperate need.”

Staff from Abbott House will also continue to offer counseling and therapy for the girls living at the Bridges Home.

“This is a little bit more of an intensive foster home,” Lambert said.

The Bridges Home will also have two separate, one-person apartments for girls ages 18 to 21 to make the transition to living independently.

“It’s a good place to start,” Lambert said, referring to the apartments. “It helps them get their feet on the ground.”

At its main facility, located at 909 Court Merrill St., near Dakota Wesleyan University, the Abbott House provides residential treatment to girls ages 7 to 18.

“We treat kids who have some sort of abuse, neglect or self-harm in their background,” Lambert said. “So, it’s not just necessarily kids that come from a dysfunctional family.”

Abbott House already runs a transitional facility similar to its Bridges Home across from its main building.

“We have that one and it has been full, and we still haven’t had a place for girls,” she said.

With this new home, Lambert said, the organization will be able to expand its services and give help to more girls.

The Bridges Home cost approximately $450,000 to complete. The Abbott House raised $300,000 for the project through private donors, including the Gopal Vyas family, for whom the home is named.

The remaining $150,000 will be paid for with a loan, which the Abbott House will pay back using money it receives from the state for taking care of girls referred to the organization by state agencies, such as the Department of Social Services or the Department of Corrections. The land for the Bridges Home was donated by the city of the Mitchell.

“We built it, really, with the help of people who believe in what we do and believe in helping kids,” Lambert said.

For Lambert, the project is about providing hope and a real family environment for girls who have already finished Abbott House’s main treatment program.

“We really see it as finishing the job we started,” she said.