To think it all started with a vision, an actual vision. Steve Gonzalez, a therapist and social worker for many years and a New York City native saw five or six children running and laughing. They were playing in an expanse of green field with a mountain range behind them. “It was just like watching a DVD,” he said. Then he heard a voice in his heart, “the vastness of my creation will minister to them”, and he became aware of the word, Colorado.
Steve earned his master’s in social work at Hunter college, while raising his oldest son as a single father. Later in life Steven was pursuing a Doctorate degree in Psychology but a very difficult divorce put his career on hold. As a single father again with two additional sons, he understood the importance of working through his own healing. He sought out counseling which had a faith-based approach. He evidently found someone that had similar Christian values but did not integrate it in the sessions. This experienced caused Steven to recognize the need for such an approach in therapy. A few years later, he began a support group on his own in Queen’s New York. The first meeting was attended by twenty people, all of whom were dealing with pain and loss and with nowhere else to go. This would eventually grow into a private practice with his wife Janine by his side it expanded to three locations.
He met Janine in 2001 at a tri-state conference she’d organized for counselors, therapists, psychologists and others in the mental health professions. Janine was working at Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey and Steve was the clinical director at Pastoral Counseling Center in Queens. A match made in heaven, surely. They were married a year later. He shared the vision with his wife, Janine, a licensed therapist herself. Together they made the decision to heed the message and move their faith-based counseling services, with an emphasis on helping abused and abandoned children to Colorado.
The move to Colorado involved many a road trip before they were able to settle on a location. They had exactly one friend in the whole state, in Longmont. Steve kept his vision firmly in his mind as the couple traveled up and down the front range seeking not only a new home, but the community where they could do the most good. Through faith and prayer in 2009 they established their 501 (3) and began with two offices in the Old Wellington Historical Hotel on Cleveland Ave. Their respective practices began to grow by word of mouth. Apparently, the Wellington community and beyond needed the counseling, coping mechanisms and life skills provided by the couple. By 2014, they had taken over the entire second floor of the building.
December 2015, they took another step of faith and did not renew their lease. Pastor Joshua and Jennifer Griffin opened their doors to the space at the Filling Station, as they searched for a new location. With an unexpected turn of events, by March 2016 they now had a large home and practice location just north of Grant’s Farm. Today, each has a home office on the ground floor of their home. There is also a meeting room large enough to hold 60 people. They provided services to everyone from young children to adults to geriatrics. Currently, they are looking toward building a group home on the property for children starting at the age of 5 and under to get as close to the trauma as possible. The purpose is to reunite these children with their families. For those children who are unable to return home, they will seek families that will adopt. For those not adopted who have aged out of the system, practical assistance, food and shelter, and life skills such as budgeting and renting will be provided by the couple.
They have teamed up with the other pastors in the Wellington area and are members of the Wellington chamber of Commerce. Wellington is growing rapidly but lacks an identity as anything other than stepchild of Larimer County. Steven and Janine as well as others seek to break that mindset. Pay attention as this ever-expanding town comes into its own identity building a healthy foundation. It has begun, watch as Wellington the Northern Gate of Colorado hits the mark at the amazement of others.