Community celebrates Vera French Carol Center expansion

Davenport facility offers  mental health care 

Vera French Carol Center CEO
Dr. Richard Whitaker, left, CEO of the Vera French Community Mental Health Center, talks with visitors on Thursday, May 25, during a celebration for the Carol Center’s renovation project in Davenport. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Dr. Richard Whitaker was proudly looking over the improvements made to the Vera French Carol Center building in Davenport on Thursday morning, May 25.

The Carol Center, at 808 N. Harrison St., recently underwent  a massive $750,000 renovation that included the addition of a second floor, remodeling work, new siding and a new elevator in the building. The center, operated by Vera French Community Mental Health Center, offers a variety of services to help enhance mental health. It also helps homeless people find homes, provides medication management, and aids Quad-Citians in finding jobs and other services. 

“I asked (one of the clients) ‘What do you think of the new elevator?’ And I was told ‘Well, it’s a little slow, but it’s a smooth ride. … Adding that elevator made a big difference for all who use the building,” Dr. Whitaker,  Vera French Community Mental Health Center’s CEO, said at the ceremony Thursday. 

He added that the same story could be a metaphor for life – we all might be on a slow ride to our destinations, but with the help of others, we get to where we are going and it’s a smooth ride.

The Vera French official was one of more than 100 health, business and community leaders who gathered at the Vera French Carol Center to celebrate its expansion. In addition to the second floor expansion, the project also renovated about 3,600 square feet.

The day featured a Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony, many messages of thanks, and tours of the updated facility.

“I think this place looks awesome. … We have touched so many lives and have helped so many clients,” said Angi Tracy, director of the Carol Center.

The Carol Center has its origins dating back to 1986, and it has been in its current building for the past four years, said Dr. Whitaker. The center is named for the late Carol Lujack.   

The center has a staff of about 22, and serves about 40 to 50 clients at any time. The expanded and remodeled building will make it possible for the Carol Center to offer more and different services, and more space for people to meet, Ms. Tracy added.

Several officials on Thursday said they are especially happy that the renovated center will be able to better help people in need.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 25, celebrated the completion of renovations at Vera French’s Carol Center in downtown Davenport. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

The clients of the Carol Center, however, are also key to helping each other, said Dr. Whitaker.

“All of you are part of the solution. They’re not just getting help. They are helping others,” the CEO said during the welcoming ceremony.

After the ribbon was cut, many of the guests in the crowd toured the renovated facility including a new second floor that includes a “Drop-in Area” featuring computers for clients to search for jobs. There also is an office space on the new floor for the Homeless Outreach coordinator, peer support offices and offices housing the center’s other services.

Construction work on the Carol Center project began last summer and was completed a few months ago, said Ms. Tracy.

Bush Construction was the contractor and designer of the project. During the ceremony, Bush President and CEO A.J. Loss thanked the community for its support and praised his team for their work. He added that the Bush team did a great job on a project that featured one big twist – the Carol Center was operational and occupied during the renovation and construction of the second floor.

“It’s so important to have the Carol Center. … We’re proud that you’re here and part of the community,” said Davenport Mayor Mike Matson during the Thursday ceremony.

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