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Compass celebrates milestone in construction of first responder integrated wellness center

July 16, 2020


HUNTINGTON –  Compass is designed to resource the City of Huntington’s police and fire personnel with the skills necessary to foster optimal health, humanity, and performance. Compass Advisory Committee hosted a kickoff event Thursday, July 16, to commemorate the beginning of construction of a state-of-the-art integrated wellness center.

The Compass Wellness Center will be built on the fifth floor of the Jean Dean Public Safety Building, 675 10th St. It will include features such as job-functional exercise equipment, group exercise space, academic and media center and office space for the fitness coaches who train with individual responders and teams to enhance mind/body fitness.

Construction will begin on the first phase of the wellness center on August 1. The City of Huntington contributed $250,000 toward the total construction cost of $440,000 for the first phase, while the Compass Advisory Committee raised the remaining balance of $190,000 from grants and private donors. Fundraising continues for the subsequent phases – training offices, the nutrition center and renovated restrooms.

Compass emerged through the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ U.S. Mayors Challenge. The yearlong competition challenged city leaders to uncover and test bold, innovative ideas to confront the toughest challenges faced by cities today. Huntington was one of nine cities in October 2018 to receive a $1 million award to begin implementation of their solutions.

Huntington leaders saw the competition as an opportunity to address compassion fatigue within its ranks of police officers and firefighters. As Compass grew, it evolved to address a broader scope that includes compassion and other components of health and humanity that deeply impact performance. The Compass Wellness Center is a critical component of this broader effort.

Compass’ approach integrates multiple disciplines, contemporary lessons from science, and medicine to resource and train first responders and their families.

Compass builds a bridge between physical and mental fitness, resourcing individuals for optimal health, humanity, and performance. Compass resources normalized occupational stress and the impact of trauma on the individual responder, the organization, and their family. Further, Compass trains skills in self- awareness, self-regulation and compassion that enhance the capacity for responding to community members in crisis with greater equanimity and skill.

While community leaders have come together in Huntington to address the opioid epidemic and provide assistance to individuals suffering from substance use disorder, there has been a growing need to develop a widely-used model for first-responder assistance, Mayor Steve Williams said.

“Through focus groups and feedback from our police officers and firefighters, we learned very quickly that the high-stress situations of being on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic required a new way of thinking about how we take care of the people who take care of us every day,” Williams said. “Compass is enabling our first responders to become part of the decision-making process in developing self-care, training and mental health resources.”

Mayor Williams and the Compass Advisory Committee would like to thank the following partners and funders:

  • Huntington City Council
  • Edward Tucker Architects: Phoebe Patton Randolph, Katherine Lea, Amber Yost
  • E.P. Leach & Sons, which will build the Wellness Center
  • AT&T. AT&T was the first entity to make a private contribution to the Compass Wellness Center. The company has also supported Huntington’s first responders during the past year by purchasing mattresses for all of the fire stations and paying for the demolition of four dilapidated structures through its “Believe Appalachia” initiative.
  • The Prichard Foundation
  • The Huntington Foundation
  • CSX
  • Joan Weisberg
  • Houston Jewish Community Foundation
  • The WV School of Medicine Foundation
  • A private donor who made a significant donation and chose to remain anonymous
  • Fire Chief Jan Rader for making Compass the designated beneficiary of her speaking engagements 
  • Restaurants that participated earlier this year in Compass Restaurant Week: Backyard, Jim’s, Calamity J, Rio Grande, SIP, and Buddy’s BBQ.

For more information about Compass, visit the program’s website at

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