Wellpoint Care Network’s New Social Hall Opens, Will Expand in Future
As part of Wellpoint Care Network’s ongoing campus transformation project, we are excited to announce that phase one of our Social Hall project is now complete.
Today, the Social Hall serves as the temporary main entrance to our building, waiting room for those in our care, and an open space for our employees to meet with partners, guests, or each other.
The second phase of the project will involve opening the space to the public. We envision the Social Hall as a place where community members can convene and collaborate.
“The Social Hall is really a shining gem of the ‘why’ of our campus transformation,” said Ann Leinfelder Grove, President and CEO of Wellpoint Care Network. “For so many years, our campus and our facility had been a place where great things were happening to support children, youth and families, but fairly closed to the community and restricted just to those people who were here for care and our employees. Now, we’re really shifting the paradigm to say that we’d like to open up our doors and invite our neighbors to see this as a place that they’re welcome.”
Wellpoint Care has been community-facing in all its 173 years of operations, but in different ways over the different eras of our history. Today, we strive for neighbors and community members to see Wellpoint Care as a community anchor.
“The Social Hall will really expand our reach into the community,” said Alex Williams, Director of Community Engagement at Wellpoint Care Network. “People from the community should feel comfortable coming into this space to meet, share and learn from each other. They can connect with us and learn more about our services and about our work. They should feel comfortable and at home in this new space, their space.”
A PLACE FOR EVERYONE
Once fully open to the public, Wellpoint Care Network’s Social Hall will have operating hours throughout the week. It will include a space to meet, relax, recharge or just simply enjoy a cup of coffee with friends.
“The Social Hall, I feel, is going to be an intergenerational space,” said Williams. “I’m really excited about that aspect of people connecting cultures and connecting across different demographics, borders and barriers. It’s about creating community. Now, we get to create our own community with the Social Hall.”
Wellpoint Care plans to hold future events and meetings in this new space, and throughout our entire campus. We invite community organizations to ask about hosting their events or meetings on our campus as well.
“Our trauma-informed commitment has taught us the importance of connection and relational wealth for all of us,” said Leinfelder Grove. “Human beings are wired for connection. Our brains and our existence are about other people and being connected to them. The way we’re seeing the campus, the Social Hall in particular, is to make it easier for people to have that type of connection in the community. Also, to give voice and space for the issues and ideas in the neighborhoods right around us.”
Wellpoint Care’s commitment to Trauma Informed Care shines through in the design of the Social Hall.
When you visit, you will be in a space that’s bright, comfortable and welcoming.
“The beautiful big windows of the Social Hall are an intentional design element to reflect Trauma Informed Care and its connection to nature as being a big part of how people feel comfortable and safe and how they heal,” added Leinfelder Grove. “As you look out the giant windows to the east and to the west, there are beautiful large maple trees. Four season beauty that you can’t make up in a picture or a painting. The space having very high ceilings and being open and bright is another dimension of trauma-informed design. With space comes comfort and a quieter environment; it’s not too crowded or too cramped.”
Furnishings within the Social Hall will include couches and chairs for casual conversations, as well as tables where one may choose to work.
“Safe spaces have been dwindling in Milwaukee,” added Williams. “There are fewer and fewer places where young people feel safe, where adults feel safe. We want to bring some of that back, and we do that by giving the community somewhere they feel comfortable coming, no matter the reason. Hopefully that means that they value the space, and they want to keep it safe. Having spaces where people can get away from the stresses of life or work, I think that’s invaluable as a resource.”
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS
The opening of the Social Hall is part of Wellpoint Care’s vision to more easily invite the community in to be connected and engaged with each other and with our services.
But both Leinfelder Grove and Williams agree that the full vision is still evolving, and will really depend on what the community would like to see in this new space.
“This is an opportunity for us to expand our sense of community,” said Williams. “I definitely see resource fairs for community-based organizations happening in the Social Hall. Hosting workshops, hosting community listening sessions, youth art nights, open mic nights, book readings. I think that the possibilities are endless.”
“It’s all about convening community conversations,” said Leinfelder Grove. “For example, we’ve hosted two panels addressing the need for more black mental health professionals. Convening a conversation of that importance within the community — trying to organize the dialogue and create some action steps moving forward. The Social Hall will allow for that.”