“It’s just a way to say to the community that we’ve been here for 35 years and we appreciate our community and the people out there,” executive director Al Reis said. “Just a way of, I guess, letting people know about our presence, and that we’d like to have as many people come out and just have a meal with us and visit for a little while on the grounds here.”
Since its founding, the Mobile Crisis Unit has been active all over the city confronting matters such as substance abuse, gambling problems, mental health issues and domestic violence. While their calls most frequently involve emergency child protection services, the unit also provides emergency financial services, home care for the elderly and a designated sexual assault program.
“We have always done crisis intervention, from the time we started service in 1977 right up to (the) present date,” Reis said. “We’re all about crisis intervention services and we’re here 24/7, seven days a week, which has been the case with us over the years.”
Throughout its history, the Mobile Crisis Unit has evolved in parallel with the city it serves.
“We’ve changed with the community as the community’s needs have changed,” Reis said. “Our services have changed to adapt to those needs, but still being responsive to whatever the crisis may be that comes up. We’ve grown in staff, we’ve grown in numbers of calls, we’ve grown in all those kinds of ways. We’ve changed locations — we’re in our fourth location now over the 35-year timeframe.”
We’ve changed with the community as the community’s needs have changed. - Al Reis
In its early years, the unit had seven or eight employees and Reis estimated that it answered 2,500 to 3,000 calls per year. As the decades passed and the community become more aware of its services, the number of staff members at the unit doubled, while annual call volume now hovers around the 10,000 mark.
“We had a really, really busy year this past year, and the year we’re in now currently is also shaping up to be another really busy year,” Reis said. “So I think the numbers bear out that we’ve had a lot of involvement in the community, and that people are for the most part aware of our services. Of course, it’s always helpful to have some word out there and for people to know more about our services.”
Wednesday’s 35th anniversary barbecue will take place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Mobile Crisis Unit headquarters, which is located in Unit C at 4050 Second Ave. W. Attendees can mingle with staff members while enjoying hamburgers, hotdogs, cold drinks and cake.
“There’s no cost or anything,” Reis said. “Hopefully it’s going to be a nice fall day and people will be able to come out and enjoy it.”