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CooperRiis residential mental health recovery campus as seen from above with rolling hills and Blue Ridge mountains on the horizon

Join us in celebrating 20 years of RECOVERY

CooperRiis 20th Anniversary

A message from Marketing & Outreach Director, Kim Nelson

I am honored to have “spread the good word” for almost seven years at CooperRiis Healing Community. Reflecting on the history leading up to our CooperRiis 20th Anniversary, I am humbled and awestruck. My heart is filled with hope when  thinking about all of the lives this community has touched. Not only the lives of the residents who have come through our campuses, but their families, our referring mental health professionals, and the caring, incredible staff all over Western North Carolina. They have all helped make us the Healing Community that we are. I wonder how many more lives we will be able to touch over the next 20 years.

-Kim Nelson,

Marketing & Outreach Director

Stories of Recovery from our Alumni Community

by Stephanie Wilensky, Development Director

A family perspective…

We know when the family is an active part of the team, it increases the likelihood that gains made during the recovery process are much more sustainable over time. We understand families walk on this journey with their loved ones. 

Hearing from families when they see positive shifts and growth on the path to recovery is very rewarding. Recently, a father had this to share…

“As my son transitions from the Farm to the Asheville Community Program, I’d like to express my deep gratitude and respect to his Recovery Coordinator, Mel Johnson.

In just a short while, ‘James’ blossomed from an angry, aggressive child, to a pleasant young man, confident and able to take on the world. He will always carry in his heart Mel’s support and encouragement. She believed in him and dreamed his dreams for him. Ever so slowly and cautiously she withdrew the poison from within him, the pain, the hurt, the fury, the confusion. Whatever he accomplishes in the future belongs to her; her wisdom, her tenacity, her ability to find the good in him and nourish it to fruition.

Thank you Mel, for an extraordinary job, and thank you CooperRiis for providing such a wonderful human being for my son. May God bless you with success and good health always.”

-Anonymous Parent

Coping Skills Highlight

Happy February! As we continue further into 2023 with our CooperRiis 20th Anniversary blogs, the coping skill that we have chosen to highlight this month is Breaking Problems Down.

Problems become more stressful when they feel overwhelming.  Breaking life’s inevitable challenges down into smaller, more manageable chunks is an effective way to pare the stress down. Take the example of finding a job. This can be a tedious and time-consuming task which could easily lead to stress overload. Creating smaller goals, like spending 1 hour per day job hunting online or submitting 3 applications each day, can help you feel like you’re making measurable progress towards your employment goals. 

Employee Highlight

Jennifer Brock
Years of service — 4 years
Current role — ACP Integrative Therapist 

Special memory of your time at CooperRiis?
“It is hard to reflect on just one… There have been several times throughout the years that alumni come to visit or share their story with the community and share the impact CooperRiis has had on their life and recovery… never gets old and always so inspiring. The culture of the CooperRiis community is eclectic, embracing, and powerful. Whether gathering at the holidays or community events, fun times and opportunities to connect on a more personal, casual level with teammates adds to the appreciation I have to be a member of this community.” 

Something you particularly enjoy about working at CooperRiis?
“I am grateful to be a part of a community where collaboration, creativity, integrity, and passion exist in abundance. I feel honored to be a part of people’s recovery and have so much appreciation for the vulnerability and authenticity of all those I work with.” 

Favorite Recipes

Vegan Protein Bars

PREP:20 min
TOTAL:35 mins
SERVINGS: 12 bars


1 cup creamy peanut butter or almond butter plus 2 tablespoons

10 medjool dates pitted (about 1 cup)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 tablespoons chia seeds or flaxseed meal

1/2 cup vanilla or chocolate protein powder of your choice

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

2 to 4 tablespoons almond or oat milk

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips


· To the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the peanut butter, dates, and rolled oats. Pulse several times until the mixture breaks down, and the ingredients begin to incorporate with one another.

· Scrape down the bowl then add the chia seeds, protein powder, and 2 tablespoons of milk. Pulse until all ingredients are well combined. Depending on your food processor, this may take a few minutes.

· Check the consistency of your dough. When you pick up a small handful of it and squeeze, it should hold together and resemble cookie dough. If it is too dry, continue pulsing in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the chocolate chips and, with a spatula (or your fingers), stir to combine the chips and moisten any bits of dough that the food processor didn’t incorporate evenly.

· Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it into an even, flat layer. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 minutes or to the refrigerator for 1 hour, until the bars firm up.

· Lift the bars from the pan using the parchment handles and transfer them to a cutting board. Slice into bars of the desired size (I made 12) and enjoy.


· TO STORE: Store the bars in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Due to their “no bake” consistency, the bars will become soft at room temperature.

· TO FREEZE: Place the bars in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Learn more about our diet, nutrition and our integrated wellness approach at CooperRiis here

Beloved Animals & Favorite Memories

Beloved Animals & Favorite Memories

These CooperRiis 20th Anniversary reflections come from Lisa Schactman, Chief Program Officer. 

“I have several memories that I wanted to share:Live nativity at the barn around Christmas, there were luminaries from the main house all the way down to the barn. Folks would dress up as the three Wise Men, etc, all the animals were there and we’d sing carols and tell stories; it was magical.

We had a series of farm-to-table dinners one summer, and once we cleaned out the animal barn and staged the dinner there. George’s band (staff member) played live music and we had one long table with all the decorations.  Our chef set up the bar-b-que right outside the doors. It was super fun.

Weekends were filled with walks around the farm, snacking on fresh veggies. In the picture below, my daughter, Lily had just harvested a carrot for a snack. We also visited the animals a lot. One of our favorites was Beau, the kissing llama.

Fun fact, the animal crew manager and I witnessed the birth of Beau in the field behind the greenhouse while we were both pregnant; it was a really cool experience.  When you walked up to the fence, Beau would walk right up and give you a kiss!”




“The kids were fully involved in the community, helping with dishes and sometimes joining a Community Work and Service Crew.  On holiday’s Lily would offer to paint nails and Louis would bring out his legos to see if any residents wanted to build with him. 

Louis liked to stand on the counter in the morning meeting room and share jokes during morning meeting. Lots of staff and residents enjoyed these interactions.”

Louis helping out in the kitchen by doing dishes for the community.

CooperRiis Trivia

Our CooperRiis at Asheville campus is located in what well-known downtown neighborhood?

The 85 Zillicoa location in Asheville is in the city’s historic Montford district.

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