Center for mentally ill shutting down in Kissimmee


Sunrise Drop-in Center

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A facility that helps people with bipolar disorder, chronic depression and other mental illnesses will be forced to shut its doors.

On Friday, the Sunrise Drop-in Center reached the end of its 60-day notice that it can no longer use the building on North Clyde Avenue in Kissimmee.

Parry Stewart started out at the Sunrise Drop-in Center as a volunteer who also deals with chronic depression.

"Anyone can come here, anyone that has a diagnosed mental illness," Stewart said.

Stewart said he's been with the center for 10 years and is now the associate director.

"I can sit here and honestly tell you if it weren't for this place, I don't think I'd be alive," Stewart said.

Brian Barbato has bipolar disorder. He goes to the Sunrise Drop-in Center and said it's the only facility of its kind in Osceola County.

"They feed us, they make us feel like we're home. They let us have the computer, we watch TV," Barbato said.

Barbato said the only other place like it is in downtown Orlando, which is far away for him.

Barbato is about to see his second home shut its doors.

"I'm going to be lost without a place like this," Barbato said.

For the past 12 years, Park Place Behavioral Health Care has let Sunrise use the building free of charge.

Park Place said the building is now in need of nearly $60,000 worth of repairs.

Jim Shanks, CEO of Park Place Behavioral Health Care, said it gave Sunrise 60 days notice to move out so it can turn the building into a short-term residential treatment facility.

Shanks said the building has been used far too long in unsafe conditions.

"It's old. The stairways are unsafe. If you're going to have to spend $60,000 to bring it up to code, it's obviously got a lot of problems," Shanks said.

Shanks did say a portion of the renovated building will have space for a drop-in center, but the majority will be residential.

"Sunrise saved my life and what concerns me is what about the next 'me' that comes and the doors are closed?" Stewart said.