Musings From Andy Atwood

The Creation of The Fountain Hill Center and its sustaining presence in our community, is the result of a whole lot of creative effort from a whole lot of wonderful people.

From Experience, I have learned that the collective genius of the group is smarter than the rightest person in the group, especially if they are Spirit filled.

Back before 1974, Central Reformed Church, with Dr. Bud Ridder as it’s Senior Pastor, had a vision to create a Marriage and Family Center. Very early efforts by a group of laypeople stumbled to get the Center off the ground. Then, I arrived at the Church, was hired as Minister to Singles, and bartered the third floor of the “Fountain House” for my salary. Jan and I lived on the third floor for a year.

At first, it was master therapist Al DeVoogd and me. We were different people with a shared vision. Then there was a new hand-picked group of six volunteers who made up our first Board of Directors. Dr. Don VanOstenberg survives from that original Board. We had encouragement from the Central Reformed Church. And then one therapist after another joined us. Slowly at first, and then steadily year after year. Interns arrived. Support staff have played a critical role from year two, as they continue to do today.

Early on we were the Marriage and Family Center. The name changed around 1996 when managed care forced us to diversify our services. Somewhere around that time we were able to buy the Bundy House from the Church. With that came the need to maintain the place, a need that continues on. To this day, I am amazed at how this 1884 Heritage Hill home carries the amount of human traffic it does. Wear and tear are real and the need for upkeep is real.

Donors? There have been hundreds who have gifted us with time and treasure to keep our ministry alive and thriving for 50 years. I recall one crazy story in particular. The Church had made the vacant third floor available to the family of Vietnamese refugees in the late 70’s. The morning we had a Board meeting, there was a clogged toilet up on the third floor. When we walked in to the first floor, yellow water was dripping down the secretary’s desk. Flushing over and over, running all the way through the second floor, and down. What a mess. Board member Connie Boersma wrote a check for $3,000 on the spot and simply said, “Fix it.”

And Clients. Thousands of people have gone through The Bundy House. Children, men and women, business leaders and others from every walk of life. They, you, are the ones that give all of us purpose.

You see, it is the collective genius of the group that has established and sustained The Fountain Hill Center for 50 years.

That includes the presence of the Divine within and among us all. Let us never forget the essential presence of the Spirit.

Andy Atwood