Carson City’s Community Counseling Center rises from humble beginnings |

Carson City’s Community Counseling Center rises from humble beginnings

Brian Sandford

Mary Bryan, director of the Community Counseling Center, knows people don’t get warm and fuzzy feelings when they think of a facility that helps people with addictions.

“It’s not like we’re a summer camp for disabled children,” she said.

Because of potential public-perception issues, founders of the nearly 30-year-old center in Carson City had to work extra hard to get it off the ground, she said.

Until the early 1980s, Carson City had no state-sponsored treatment facility. The Rev. Jerry Hanley and original director Pat Bates approached the state, asking for the funding to open a small recovery unit. Bryan, who was a program administrator within the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, was tasked with finding the money.

“We gave them a paltry amount; they couldn’t even afford rent,” Bryan said.

The center opened in 1985 as the Community Addiction Clinic. Bates passed away not long after that, and Bryan soon found herself running the center she’d helped get started in her state-worker capacity.

“I never thought I’d end up here; I thought I was going to die a state employee,” she said.

After beginning as an outpatient-only clinic, the center has grown over the years. In 2000, it moved into a residential services building at 900 E. Long St. and an administrative building at 205 S. Pratt Ave. It served about 3,100 clients in 2012.

Some clients check themselves in at the center; others are referred by family members. But the majority of stays — about 85 percent — are legally mandated, Bryan said.

The center has both residential and outpatient facilities. The average stay at the former is 23 days, and at the latter, six months, Bryan said. The residential center has 25 beds.


Organizers hope to raise $10,000 for the center at the Golf Gourmand Scramble, a tournament fundraiser June 2 at Eagle Valley Golf Course.

The center receives most of its funding in the form of grants; the golf event is its only fundraiser. It’s the brainchild of Jerry Massad, owner of The Cracker Box, and began 20 years ago. It has been held every year except last year.

As many as about 165 people have participated, Massad said. He expects about 90 to take part this year.

Tournament prizes this year include Gold Dust West hotel stays, a golf towel and set of golf balls donated by Sen. Harry Reid, a stay at MontBleu and signed books. The prize for a hole-in-one is a Toyota Corolla donated by Carson City Toyota-Scion.

The event is presented by Café Adele’s, the Cracker Box and Js’ Old Town Bistro.

Adele’s owner Charlie Abowd, who is on the center’s three-person advisory board, agreed with Bryan that the center’s mission can be a sensitive one to the public. That’s part of what has fueled a desire to help.

“It’s hard to get people to commit,” he said. “It’s not a sexy thing.”