Our Story - Main Streets' Aspire Behavioral Health Services
When Kyle Dasher, LISW decided to leave full time employment to open her private practice in Corning, Iowa she found a distinct shortage of rental space suitable for her needs. Someone pointed out a small building at 816 Davis Avenue that had been for sale for years. The nearly 100-year-old building had been occupied by services such as an insurance agency, a hair salon, a daycare/preschool and was in sad shape. Her first reactions upon inspecting it were dismay and disappointment. At first glance there were obvious issues like broken windows, a bad ceiling, the basement was moldy, damp, smelled bad and was full of abandoned items from the previous owners. Space was another issue as the interior was just one big room which didn’t lend itself to the privacy needed for mental health counseling. The entrance was not ADA compliant and a false front seemed out dated.
Her husband Barry Newton had the vision to point out that it was on Main Street, had excellent parking and was just across from a beautiful park. With the support of the local PCSB bank, they took the plunge and bought the building in June of 2018. With advice from Main Street, both local and State, and, after spending a lot of time looking at other buildings on Main Street for architectural value, colors, signage, and canopy elements with an eye to preserving historical elements but adding sophistication, function and comfort, they finalized their plans and were able to apply and be approved for a Facade Grant from the local Main Street organization. From there transforming the building became both a scavenger hunt and a family project. Their five children, aged 11 to 22, pitched in and cleaned out the basement. When the contractor redid the interior walls and ceiling, he broke up the big room with new interior walls, insulated and sound proofed. The youngest children learned to strip, sand, stain and finish oak wood trim re-purposed from a local funeral home undergoing a renovation to a daycare. The desks and file cabinets came from another business that was disposing of them. Her oldest son repaired the damage and removed the stains making them into beautiful furniture. The sofa/display table in the waiting room had been a plant stand in her mother-in-law’s home for decades. It was the wrong color, cracked and weather checked but it became the rich focus of the waiting room offering coffee, tea and cocoa. The solid oak interior doors were repaired and refinished and adorned with unique hardware. Research showed the false front to have significant historical value and to be architecturally unique, so it was repaired and preserved. A warm neighborly relationship with the attorney next door resulted in an attractive shared ADA compliant wooden stairway and ramp complete with a landing for a relaxing view of the street and park for them both.
The end result has been nothing short of amazing. Now the back half has everything needed for their children after school, including a separate entrance, kitchenette, bathroom and a connection to the business side that can only be unlocked from that side. The front half has two offices, carpeting, an ADA compliant bathroom and a comfortable waiting room complete with a large TV and a small marble water fountain. In the words of Martin Olive, Corning community volunteer, “I used to take my mother to the beauty shop in the building that Kyle remodeled and the first time I walked in after the remodel I was blown away by the change! The outside is striking with rich colors, new access by steps and ramp, and the completed exterior repair work, but when you open the door, it doesn’t look anything like what was there before. The craftsmanship and attention to detail created a space that is simply hard to describe. You notice calm, modern colors, historic decorative detail, beautiful woodwork, and I just kept saying Wow. The remodel created a lasting benefit to our community in terms of a saved building that is now exceptional in the change but also a perfect space for sorely needed mental health services that are provided locally. We are lucky to have this, and I compliment them on the outcome.”
Kyle opened her building to clients in November 2018 as Aspire Behavioral Health Services, LLC and has built a full-time active practice. Her clients tell her that they feel comfortable, welcome and safe which she says is the best feedback she could possibly receive. As a thirty-year resident of Corning, she is proud to be able to give back to the community in the form of her renovated building on Main Street and her services as a mental health therapist. She hopes to give back to her profession as well by being a mentor and a practice site for upcoming mental health professionals.
Looking back on her construction experience, Kyle sums it up this way: “The number of visits before and after by community members is amazing with so much input, support and feedback. We didn’t just open a business, we joined a community!”
The work done on the interior and exterior of this building was recognized by Main Street Corning who nominated Aspire Behavioral Health Services for the Terrific Total Building Rehabilitation Award. The nomination award was presented to Kyle on March 5 during the Main Street Award Ceremony at the Corning Opera House.
Main Street Corning Public Relations Committee