Oasis Community Center in Bethlehem opened its doors in 2019 as a way to help families who are impacted by a loved one's substance abuse.

Now, there is a new direction for the center to kick off the new year.

The new direction has to do with wellness and helping all families improve communication and build resilience.

69 News reporter Nancy Werteen sat down with Rhonda Miller, executive director and founder of Oasis Community Center.

Watch the interview in the video window above or read a transcript below.

"So it's a new year, and you have an exciting new direction."

"Yeah, we opened Oasis Community Center in Bethlehem three-and-a-half years ago, primarily as a support for families who have a loved one with substance use issues, because there really aren't a lot of resources available. So we offer all kinds of support groups, and therapist-led programs, everything is free and open to the public.

"But we have moved into a new direction, in terms of really introducing wellness strategies. It's so important for all of us to develop a good wellness program of our own really strong self care, and learn new communication techniques, learn ways to calm and soothe ourselves. So as we deal with anxieties, we have a strong foundation in which to turn to, and the pandemic really illuminated the need for this. There is not a single person who is not impacted by the stress that the pandemic has created. And a lot of people have spiraled into mental health issues. So we really have a focus on building up resiliency, and coping skills and developing strong positive social networks."

"So great. And I know, Rhonda, for you, you began Oasis Community Center because of a heartfelt mission after the unfortunate death of your son, Ben. So now you're seeing this bigger need, if you will, for everyone. And I think one of the things that people might not realize is that anybody can come to Oasis. And as you said, it doesn't cost them anything."

"Absolutely. Everything we offer is free. We're in a beautiful 200-year-old historic farmhouse in Bethlehem, right on the Monocacy Creek where we have established trails for hiking and meditations. We have yoga classes, we have healthy cooking classes, arts and crafts, mindfulness meditation, communication skills, books, studies wellness study, so we really have broadened our program to really address the far reaching issues of developing wholeness as individuals. So we're in the strongest place possible to cope with whatever storms come our way."

"And you are a true community center, you're creating your own community, but you really want the whole community to become involved."

"We have a far-reaching base of folks that come to our center. We serve primarily Northampton County, but we're right on the edge of Lehigh County, so many folks from Lehigh, and even the other surrounding counties travel, because the services that we offer are very, very unique. We're the only center like this established in Pennsylvania, and likely the nation. So our time has come to really serve families and friends and develop wholeness of wellness."

"And especially now, because you said you started with three-and-a-half years ago, so right before the pandemic, which set you back. But now it sounds like you're ready to really hit the ground running."

"Yeah, and a lot of the programs because of the pandemic, we offer virtual options. So we have both in-person programs, and many of the programs have that virtual component. So if folks can't travel, they can just Zoom in to our many of the programs, but of course in-person is always best to participate."

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