MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Dozens of community members attended a grand opening event for the Washburn Center for Children on Friday.

The new 55,000 square foot building is located in North Minneapolis and is twice the size of the old building, which was located off Nicollet Avenue.

Along with a ribbon cutting, Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar gave speeches on the impact the facility has on the community.

For years, the Washburn Center for Children has provided mental health support for children struggling with behavioral challenges, depression, anxiety, trauma, grief and other mental health issues. Each year, Washburn Center serves more than 2,700 children, and the new facility will allow staff to help 3,000 children a year.

Ten-year-old Anna Kerr and her mom, Mary, turned to Washburn Center two years ago to help their family.

“I was out of control, always throwing stuff and damaging stuff,” Anna Kerr said.

Anna, who had trouble coping with her anger and frustration, turned violent. She needed to be hospitalized four times within a six month stretch.

The Kerr family felt isolated and alone but asked the Washburn Center for help. Over time, a case manager and crisis therapist helped both the family and Anna control her anger and emotions.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Washburn. They truly gave us our lives back,” Mary Kerr said.

While the Kerr family always received in-home help, they appreciated the layout and design of the new building.

“It’s very warm, very welcoming. I can see children would be happy here,” Mary said.

Simple design features like more observation opportunities, curved walls and natural light will help the staff with diagnosis and treatment.

“They do good work, now, in spite of the facility. Now, they can do good work with the support of the facility,” Washburn CEO Steve Lepinski said.

Clients will be able to use the new facility beginning Dec. 9th.

The $24 million facility was paid for with a mix of public and private money.

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