The year 1970 was a tough time for many in our community. It seemed like a time that if you didn’t help yourself, no one else would. So a group of people, mostly college age, incorporated as a non-profit, took over an old firehouse in the Vine Street Neighborhood on the edge of Western Michigan University’s campus, and started a Youth Drug Drop-In Center, calling it Gryphon House.
It turned out, however, that other people, and other organizations, did want to help. By 1971, Gryphon started its Overdose Aid Drug Information line, and by 1972, became the helpline (269-381-HELP) for crisis intervention, information and referral, a crisis phone line that Gryphon still answers to this day. Volunteers also formed Flying Squads for suicide rescue for overdose and suicide attempts.
The name changed to Gryphon Place in 1973, and by the following year, the helpline became a 24-hour operation. It soon became funded by the Greater Kalamazoo United Way, and in the decades that followed, connected and cooperated with other regional organizations and enhanced the services it offers. Gryphon Place by the late ’80s became a suicide prevention center as certified by the American Association of Suicidology.
Entering the 21st century, Gryphon Place became a regional partner with Michigan’s 2-1-1 call center to provide information and the right connections to more than 300 health and human service agencies in the region. One significant change for Gryphon Place came in the second decade of the 21st century when the organization moved out of the old firehouse and into a new building on 8th Street to better house the current-day operations run by approximately 60 staff members and numerous volunteers.
We continue to improve and enhance our programs and service to help people in conflict and crisis in their lives. Gryphon Place remains true to its original mission of 1970.
Today, Gryphon Place is a leader in suicide prevention in the area. We are still best known for our 24/7 contact center, which answers calls for the helpline (269-381-HELP), and our 2-1-1 information and referral line. Calls are confidential and answered with respect, empathy, and compassion. We are expertly trained in suicide prevention and are fully certified by the American Association of Suicidology. Gryphon Place is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network and meets national standards for Best Practices for Suicide Prevention Hot Lines.
Our 2-1-1 line connects people to local resources to fulfill their needs and can connect people to volunteer opportunities in the area if they are looking to give back to their community. We also offer a youth suicide prevention curriculum in schools, called The Gatekeeper Program. Gryphon Place also has several Conflict Resolution Services. Through that program, we are able to offer mediation services on a sliding fee scale. We also have a Restorative Practices program in the community and in some local school districts, including KPS. Through this program, we are able to help reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions and keep students in the classroom. Whether a person needs help locating a specific service or is having trouble securing basic needs, we can help.
No matter what you need, Gryphon Place is here for you.