My Sophomore year of college, a coon’s age ago…I changed my major from Physical Therapy to Health Education. I had decided that I wanted to prevent illness and dysfunction instead of rehab it. So began my journey, and the merge into Agape’s journey. A lot of awesome experiences have led me, and of course Agape, to where we are at with The Den. This development has been a definite “God Thing” and one I won’t be able to color enough with this short story.
Desiring to prevent injury and dysfunction paired with the desire for the medical field to really join hands and work together led me to really desire a way to integrate health in one place. There are a few places here and there that are doing this, but you will mostly find them on the coasts or big cities. Having disciplines under one roof doesn’t constitute integrated health if they don’t work together and utilize each other’s skills…so don’t be fooled. That desire stuck with me for years. Two years ago in 2009, Matt Smith, lead Physical Therapist at Agape, and I sat down to have a meeting about our short term vision and 5 year plan for Agape Therapy. One of the goals was to open a therapy room/clinic inside a fitness center. Pretty quickly, we had a chance to do this in Cedar Falls.
The walls were up in the building and that fitness center had some issue opening up and making some decisions. After a year and a half of messing around we them, we decided to just close that door. The Cedar Falls Agape clinic became very busy so our focus changed to really staying on track with that. Our attention went to enhancing the atmosphere and updating equipment etc. in our two current clinics. As insurance reimbursement has weakened and the battle for remaining a private clinic, competing with the big dogs heavied its burden we decided to put up a bigger fight. We wanted to remain true to the foundation that Cal and Deb desired and created with Agape clinic but we knew we had to make a big move. One afternoon, I am working on one of my regular patients and it came up about Kevin Hemmen, a Dike local, owning some buildings in Dike and wanting to build up the downtown. I quickly felt moved to give him a call. I have always wanted to create a loft space that had a multi discipline wellness approach with a cozy atmosphere…he had the the perfect buildings. A call was made to Kevin, and I told him the low down and he said I don’t have any more space…my heart sank…what a bummer. He continued, “but I am building a building as we speak.” Hope again. This sounds like I am dramatizing this (maybe a little) but it was pretty close to the real deal. He told me someone else had looked at opening a gym in Dike as well, (insert my competitive nature). Game on. I hung up told Deb and Matt about the opportunity. They were all for it. That night, I sat on my porch until 1 a.m. drawing a floor plan from a free program I found on the internet. Originally, Kevin was going to lease 2300 square feet and keep the back part of the building for his boats. As, Kevin, Deb, Joan and I sat in Deb’s office, it came to be that we were just going to need the whole building. Kevin had offered it up, maybe joking at first, Deb and Joan were all about it. I thought in my mind, “how are we going to pay for it and fill it with the size of community Dike is?” Then I looked down at my floor plan and knew that there wasn’t enough space and it was super cramped. So I agreed and we took the whole space. Bigger game on. Now I had to really buckle down and get some thoughts squared away.
Let me pause for a minute and tell you why we even decided to do this project in Dike. I had gotten the opportunity to coach basketball there for three years. Through that time I personally, along with Kristin who coached with me, and is also Cal and Deb’s daughter, also fell in love with the community and the people. As coaches, Kristin and I loved how the community supported the school and its activities; when the opportunity to open this facility came about we were excited. In addition, Bethany another Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer, joined Agape’s team the end of December and she had been Dike-New Hartford’s Athletic Trainer for football for many years. This whole story just seemed to have all signs pointing in Dike. Back to the story. The process of really getting after the nuts and bolts began. First priority was to call around and talk with people we knew from Dike, to ask them what they thought of the idea. We didn’t want to step on any toes, or do any other business any disservice. Thankfully, the response was great and excitement began to grow more and more. I will spare some of the even finer details of course but just know that God’s had a hand all over this, from small decisions, to the way things have fit together, it’s crazy cool.
I want to take the time to thank Cal and Deb Iehl for creating a company that has defied the odds and remained true to its mission. Also, I want to thank them for allowing a work environment that fosters betterment as a practitioner, co worker, community businesses and just human being. I hope The Den can carry on a new chapter in that mission, and one that will make them proud. In addition, I want to thank everyone who has listened and also offered insight and opinion on this venture that is pretty new ground. Constantly, I am asking for opinions and wanting to include all who I can in making this amazing. Thanks to Matt for heading up the therapy organization of it, and Kristin for just being there for all the little decisions a trips out there to look at footings or 2x4s and sitting and looking at a floor plan, floor types, paint colors, doing a trip to Ikea with me to completely fill a Chevy Traverse absolutely totally full of stuff to put in The Den, Joan for helping with Property Management questions and getting the insurance stuff ready, and the rest of the Agape team for adjusting and supporting this development. It’s a blessing and one that I hope brings healing and happiness to many people.
-Amy Executive Director