Aberdeen center provides place to pray, talk, heal

Dianne Duhaime, left, and Kelly Gederos stand in the praise room at There Center. The religious center has no church affiliation. It offers a healing room, soaking room and prayer groups. (Kelda J.L. Pharris/Aberdeen American News via AP)

ABERDEEN (AP) – Dianne Duhaime and Kelly Gederos are regular listeners to the voice of God.

Last year, as they listened, it became apparent to them that they were destined for a change. Duhaime, of Aberdeen, had been looking into ministry. Gederos, of Westport, left her longtime nursing job at Bethesda.

Their call centered on the heart of Aberdeen and its wayward residents and visitors. With myriad donations and help the women established There Center in Aberdeen. Work began in January. In April they began hosting prayer groups and using the center's healing room.

"We are not a church. It's just prayer and for people that need to talk to somebody," Gederos told the Aberdeen American News.

The rooms at There Center are cozy with warm furnishings set against the usual interior designs of downtown's older buildings – dark wood-paneled walls, crown moulding and nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. The latter have been replaced. The draftiness on the second floor of the old First National Bank building is gone.

"Dave Graf still owns the building. He was led by the Lord to have a place to help people," Gederos said.

The women said they've assisted addicts, people who were lost in life, those who were suicidal and others who need some help or healing in prayer. People have come from as far as Fargo, North Dakota.; Webster and Spearfish, as well as from Aberdeen. Some find their way to the room through the International Association of Healing Rooms website, healingrooms.com. Others are referred to There Center by pastors, counselors, colleagues and loved ones.

"We've seen a a lot of miracles," Duhaime said. "We have a lot of people that have problems mentally and emotionally that just need someone to talk to. A lot of lives have been changed, and everything set up is confidential."

"And it's free. If people have to go to counselors ... it takes money. We don't get paid to do this," Gederos said.

Both women said they took courses in healing rooms in North Dakota and have done the coursework for Stephen's Ministry – a Christian-based training program for those who help others through difficult circumstances and life struggles.

On Mondays and Wednesdays There Center's healing room is open. It's affiliated with the International Association of Healing Rooms. It's a space to pray or meditate whether in a group setting or one-on-one.

There is also a soaking room. Decorative columns, tulle, a lion-and-lamb statue and two angel figures flank a golden throne with an embedded crown. A TV is being added to project serene images and video with music or calming sounds. An overstuffed lounge chair is motorized to allow for easy sitting and standing for those who can't grab a spot on the floor. Duhaime's homemade oversized pillows provide additional comfort. There is no water. The soaking is metaphorical.

"This whole building emanates Christ. It's because we pray and we pray all the time in here," she said.

To help with the cost of consumables like toilet paper and cleaning supplies the center also sells homemade soaps, crocheted or knit items, purses and pillows.

Those who use the center are eventually given a key. The facility is accessible 24/7, though Duhaime and Gederos do not staff all those hours. But they're just a phone call away.

"If they need help, my number is on the doors. I only live a few blocks. I'll be more than happy to come down," Duhaime said.

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