Ophelia’s Place is much more than a café

— We all enjoy Ophelia’s Place in its incarnation as Café at 407. It’s easy to dig the scene — couches and recliners complement the usual table-and-chairs — and the menu features gourmet coffees and baked goods, healthy soups, salads and sandwiches spiced by live music three evenings a week.

But let’s not lose sight of the original purpose of Ophelia’s Place.

Established about a decade ago, the non-profit organization aims to empower individuals and families to redefine beauty and health.

Ophelia’s Place Director Jodie Wilson-Dougherty keeps the effort focused on increasing self-esteem, improving body image and introducing alternatives to what she calls “dangerous desires for perfection.”

‘Breaking Free!’

To that end, Ophelia’s Place will host two new programs, one for teens and one for parents.

Teenagers affected by disordered eating and related issues can talk with others in the same situation at 7 p.m. Monday, March 18. The meeting has a hopeful title: “Breaking Free!”

A licensed clinical social worker, Wilson-Dougherty will co-facilitate “Breaking Free” along with Tyler Sliker, program director of the Q Center, a division of Aids Community Resources.

“The adolescent group is a new group that hopefully will reach young people who we’ve not reached in the past,” said Wilson-Dougherty. “Teenagers may be struggling with body image, but they don’t necessarily identify with having an eating disorder. Body dissatisfaction is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder.” For info, call Sliker at 475-2430.

On April 10, the new Parent Partner program will help family, friends and caregivers to understand eating disorders. “Many families don’t receive comprehensive information on the medical, nutritional and mental health challenges their loved one is experiencing,” said Wilson-Dougherty. “We hope to help families better grasp the complexity of this disease in order to help them support their loved ones more effectively.”

For info, call 451-5544, visit opheliasplace.org; you can also see the feature story on page 3.

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